[Grammaires Créoles] Muhsina Alleesaib (U. Mauritius)

Les constructions quantificationnelles du type enn_X_Nom en mauricien
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Muhsina Alleesaib (U. Mauritius)

Les constructions quantificationnelles du type enn_X_Nom en mauricien

Résumé en anglais (la présentation sera en français)

Quantifiers of the 'enn_X' kind in Mauritian Creole Determiner Phrases (pdf de l'exemplier)

lien :                   https://rdv2.rendez-vous.renater.fr/grammaires-creoles-alleesaib-mauricien
mot de passe :    grammaires-creoles-alleesaib-enn-N

The purpose of this paper is to examine the internal structure of Determiner Phrases of the form enn - X - Noun, in which enn - X quantifies over the Noun. Examples are enn pake let 'many letters or a bunch of letters', enn ta problem 'many problems or a bunch of problems' and enn bann garson 'many boys or a lot of boys'. Enn is both an indefinite article and a numeral. The two possible syntactic representations for enn - X - Noun are either

(a) a binominal construction enn N1 N2 in which X is a noun; or 

(b) [enn N]Quantifier + Noun, in which case enn N is a unanalyzable chunk.

The categorization of X-type items is related to that of measure nouns, that is, nouns which express the quantity of another noun. Some linguists have observed that some of these measure nouns and their indefinite determiner form fully lexicalized expressions. Others have concluded that some English measure nouns are fully grammaticalized (Brems 2003).

We will follow Broekhuis and den Dikken (2012) in distinguishing between different types of quantificational constructions involving an X-type item. Some of these constructions may be analyzed as in (a) above, while in others, the evidence shows that X does not have descriptive content. The semantic tests that will be used are:

(a)  using a size-denoting adjective to modify X;

(b)  using the diminutive clitic ti ‘small’ to modify X;

(c)  combining X with a numeral and with a quantifier;

(d)  binding reciprocals to check whether the Determiner Phrase is semantically plural. The semantic plurality of the DP shows that X is not the semantic head, and that it is instead just part of the quantifier enn X.

These semantic criteria constitute evidence for a sub-category of non-referential terms - labelled Quantifier Nouns following  Broekhuis and den Dikken (ibid). They are distinct from other partially referential terms, such as Measure Nouns, Container Nouns, Collective Nouns and Partitive Nouns.

Interestingly, the quantifier enn pake (‘lots of’ or ‘a packet of’ or ‘a bundle of’) may shift from one category to the other, depending on the Noun with which it is combined. The different constructions are exemplified below:

  • Quantity Nouns: enn ta, enn trale, enn pake, enn bann ‘a lot [of]/ lots [of]/ a bunch [of]/ a large quantity [of]’’
  • Measure Nouns : enn lit   ‘a litre [of]’
  • Container Nouns: enn panie   ‘a basket [of]’
  • Partitive Nouns: enn bout  ‘a piece [of]'
  • Collective Nouns: enn lekip  ‘a team [of]’ 

Selected References:

Brems, L. (2003) Measure Noun constructions: An instance of semantically-driven grammaticalization. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 8:2 , 283‒312.

Broekhuis, H. & den Dikken, M. (2012) Syntax of Dutch: Nouns and Noun Phrases (Volume 2), Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.