Theoretical and experimental aspects of numerosity and quantification in Lebanese Arabic : dissertationAli Al Moussaoui
, 2021, doctoral dissertation
Abstract: A question that is receiving an increasing attention in linguistics research concerns the language components of counting. This topic is approached from syntactic, semantic and pragmatic points of view. While some accounts advocate for purely syntactic or semantic approaches of countability, other adopt hybrid accounts in which labor is divided between syntax and semantics. At the same time, research finds that there is a pragmatic component enriching the interpretation of countability and numerosity in language. This dissertation attempts to contribute into the lines of research concerned in the syntactic, semantic and pragmatic aspects of countability with a focus on Lebanese Arabic (Henceforth LA), a language that has received little attention in the literature of counting.
In this dissertation, a broken agreement pattern in LA between the cardinal numerals and the post-numeral counted noun phrases is examined on the basis of a syntactic-semantic model of countability developed by Stepanov and Stateva (2018). We argue that the current existing model can be used to account for the countability broken agreement pattern in LA when necessary modifications are applied to it. The
success of this model in accounting for the numeral-noun-phrase agreement in LA is added to its success in similar missions in countability in Russian (Stepanov and Stateva 2018) and previously in Japanese (Watanabe 2010).
The pragmatic component of countability in LA is also examined from the angle of pragmatic strengthening. The traditional difference between singular nominals and plural nominals which makes a distinction between domains of atoms
and domains of sums is seriously challenged by current semantic and pragmatic research. The plural is found to be more complex than a simplistic view of more than one, and its interpretation has a pragmatic component which involves enriching the meaning of plurality against singularity. In our dissertation, we intend to examine an enriching pragmatic process of plural against duality in LA, a language that still preserves special morphological marking for duality. So, our research investigates the pragmatic strengthening of the plural morphology in LA against the dual morphology which results in at-least-three meaning of the plural.
On the assumption that pragmatic reasoning contributes to the interpretation of plural nominals, we extend our research to the area of bilingual LA speakers who can be an ideal environment to look into the cognitive processes involved in the interaction between two linguistic systems that have diverging features pertaining to a given linguistic phenomenon, which is countability in our study. We predict crosslinguistic variation in the interpretation of plural morphology. If languages like English associate plural with an at-least-two meaning as a result of pragmatic enrichment with an anti-singularity inference, then, in languages that
morphologically differentiate among singular, plural and dual number, the morphological plural is predicted to correspond to an at-least-three meaning. In this study, we ask whether the predicted variation in the interpretation of plural
morphology among the non-dual and dual-featuring languages is a locus of negative pragmatic transfer of features from LA as a mother tongue and English/ French as foreign languages.
Keywords: countability, numerosity, Lebanese Arabic, countability model, negative pragmatic transfer, and foreign language exposure
Published in RUNG: 16.07.2021; Views: 2365; Downloads: 117
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