A functional view of the aspect of the nominal phrase in English

  1. Beatriz Martínez Fernández 1
  1. 1 Universidad de La Rioja

    Universidad de La Rioja

    Logroño, España

    ROR https://ror.org/0553yr311


ISSN: 1134-8941

Year of publication: 2006

Issue: 17

Pages: 708-717

Type: Article

More publications in: Interlingüística


This paper studies the notion of aspect within the nominal phrase in English. Dik (1997) and Van Valin and LaPolla (1997) define nominal aspect in terms of the mass/count distinction and other notions such as ensemble, mass, set, proper, count and collective nouns. Count nouns are those that refer to things, people or places that can be counted, whereas mass nouns refer to substances, things, or abstract entities that cannot be counted. However, some of these mass nouns can be made countable when inserted in count structures of the type a carton of milk, a tea bag, etc. And, in turn, some count nouns may be used to refer to a mass, as shown in We had chicken for dinner. For this reason, here I distinguish between noun aspect - an intrinsic, paradigmatic property of the noun - and nominal phrase aspect - an extrinsic, syntagmatic property of the noun. In order to study the aspect of the nominal phrase, I make use of Givón¿s (1993) list of pre-nominal modifiers, in their singular and plural versions, in combination with count and mass nouns. This way, the most basic realizations are accounted for. The results of this study are offered at core and phrase level, according to Van Valin and LaPolla¿s (1997) idea that nominal phrase operators realized by, among others, determiners and noun classifiers, parallel the scope principle of operators in the clause. The examples displayed are by no means exhaustive, but I hope they will suffice to illustrate the way aspect varies within the nominal phrase