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Words without ObjectsSemantics, Ontology, and Logic for Non-Singularity$
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Henry Laycock

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199281718

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0199281718.001.0001

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A Proposed Semantical Solution to the So‐called ‘Problem of Mass Nouns’

A Proposed Semantical Solution to the So‐called ‘Problem of Mass Nouns’

Chapter:
(p.16) 1 A Proposed Semantical Solution to the So‐called ‘Problem of Mass Nouns’
Source:
Words without Objects
Author(s):

Henry Laycock (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199281718.003.0002

This chapter takes issue with the common assumption that referential expressions and definite descriptions involving ‘mass nouns’ are semantically singular, thereby designating so-called parcels of matter or individual instances of stuff. The trouble is that whereas count nouns are either singular or plural, the so-called mass nouns, because they are non-count, are semantically neither singular nor plural. Russell’s Theory of Descriptions as well as considerations on persistence, identity, and flux are invoked to reinforce this point.

Keywords:   body, physical object, parcel, non-singularity, semantic value, identity, transformation

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