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Title: A Piece of Cheese, a Grain of Sand: The Semantics of Mass Nouns and Unitizers
Contributor(s): Goddard, Cliff  (author)
Publication Date: 2010
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Abstract: In her classic paper "Oats and Wheat: Mass Nouns, Iconicity and Human Categorization," Anna Wierzbicka (1988) argued the case for the existence of numerous, subtly different, subclasses of mass nouns and postulated detailed explanatory links between underlying conceptualizations and grammatical behaviors. She also stressed the partly language-specific character of these subclasses and suggested that differences between languages are often related to culture (e.g., connected with different eating and food preparation practices). In this study, I aim to extend and improve on Wierzbicka's arguments and analyses, concentrating on concrete mass nouns in English. The two overriding points of the entire study are that the formal linguistic properties of mass nouns are systematically correlated with their conceptual content, and that this conceptual content can be identified with rigor and precision using appropriate methods of linguistic semantics. The analytical framework is the Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) system of lexical semantic representation (Goddard and Wierzbicka 2002; Wierzbicka 1996).
Publication Type: Book Chapter
Source of Publication: Kinds, Things and Stuff: Mass Terms and Generics, p. 132-165
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Place of Publication: New York, United States of America
ISBN: 0195382897
Field of Research (FOR): 170299 Cognitive Science not elsewhere classified
200408 Linguistic Structures (incl Grammar, Phonology, Lexicon, Semantics)
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture
HERDC Category Description: B1 Chapter in a Scholarly Book
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Series Name: New directions in cognitive science
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