Determiners and Quantifiers - Differences

Term Paper (Advanced seminar) 2008 21 Pages

English Language and Literature Studies - Linguistics


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Preconditions

3. Determiners
3.1 General Remarks
3.2 Number
3.3 Definiteness – Indefiniteness
3.4 Quantification
3.5 Pronouns as Determiners

4. Quantifiers
4.1 Q as a category?!
4.2 Features of Q

5. Conclusion

6. Bibliography

1. Introduction

Determiner and quantifier – two technical terms for two distinct word classes, or does the latter denote a subset of the former? Paying attention to the linguistic discourse does not solve these questions at once. There are numerous differing and even contradictory notions of classification possibilities concerning the entities in question. The outcome of multiple approaches is that quantifiers denote a sort of subtype of the syntactic category determiner (Crystal 1995:222, Huddleston et al. 2002:356ff, Longbardi 2001:581f, Stowell 1991:47f, Quirk et al. 1972:138f). In addition, the concept was put forward that determiner and quantifier act as functional categories within the class of pronouns (Long 1961:46ff, Radford 2004:45). Yet another opinion is held by Lyons (1999:298ff), who suggests that determiner phrases do not represent a word class, but the grammatical category of definiteness.

This brief summary of possible classifications only foreshadows the numerous similarities, but at the same time the differences, of the variety to be classified. Nevertheless, the purpose of this term paper is to name and describe these differences. In order to do so, a feature-based-analysis with respect to syntactic and semantic properties of the relevant members, bearing the label determiners and quantifiers will be presented. On the basis of this outcome, a conclusion will be drawn. However, the overall expectation to classify one, or possibly two, unitary categories cannot possibly be met within the framework of this work.

Before turning to the core of this term paper, some abbreviated remarks have to be made in order to set a frame for the subsequent paper.

2. Preconditions

First of all, the outline of arguments within this paper is based upon what is known as the DP-analysis in the tradition of Abney (1987:266ff). According to Abney the syntactic head of a phrase like the book, is the determiner rather than the noun, as D takes the maximal projection of a noun as its complement with respect to the f-selection model (ibid.:74).

In comparison to the case where N is the head of the entire phrase, making that an NP and D heads a DP that occupies a pre-N specifier position as shown in (1) a., a syntactic description of a case where D heads a DP that contains an NP as its complement will look like (1) b.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

The major motivation for Abney’s alternative solution is the fact that the traditional standard analysis cannot offer enough distinct positions to accommodate the variety of components that appear pre-nominally (Abney 1987:266). The following may serve as an example:

(2) She bought the two books by McCourt.

Further alternative proposals, such as different substructures for the determiner position by Jackendoff (1977), are seized as suggestions and generally discussed in the linguistic discourse (Stowell 1991:39ff). Nevertheless, Abney’s analysis seems to be predominantly convincing even if there is not a general agreement existent upon this matter (Huddleston et al. 2002:357f, Stowell 1991:39ff, Tappe 2007:257ff).

A highly plausible argument in favour of the DP-analysis is presented by Tappe (2007:259) who evaluates D as being the more important element in comparison to N. In order to illustrate his hypothesis one may look at the following expressions:

(3) a. these books

b. books

c. these

Concerning the examples, Tappe claims that they are not “on equal footing” (2007:259) because either (3) b. or (3) c. might be a “reduction product” (ibid.) of (3) a., while (3) a. might be as well a reduced product of a sentence like:

(4) These books I bought today were all on sale.

Thus, (3) b. appears to be the adequate choice in order to refer to some undefined quantity of books, or books in the universal meaning. These books in (3) a., on the contrary, denotes several defined books, making use of proximal deixis (Huddleston et al. 2002:373). This process is a property of certain expressions by which things talked about are related to the spatio-temporal context (Lyons 1999:18). The observations made above lead Tappe to the conclusion that (3) c. behaves like (3) a., whereas (3) b. does not do so (2007:259). Furthermore, they support his hypothesis that D ’s contribution of defining which books exactly one is referring to (these) is simply more powerful in its description than N ’s role of denoting which elements are characterised (ibid.).

Even if the explanations so far put forward arguments in favour of a DP-analysis, a syntactic description under this analysis of example (3) b. has still been missing so far. For that purpose one may once again draw arguments from Tappe (2007:260), who states that the example in question must be a special case in which a noun already “contains” (ibid.) its determiner. Along the lines of licensing conditions for I in syntactic structures with inflected verbs, he accounts for books that D in this case must be empty. Hence, example (3) b. is describable as follows:

illustration not visible in this excerpt

The conceivable counter-argument, along with some other arguments, that in English, opposed to some other languages, nouns do not carry D inflection, do not appear to outweigh the recapitulatory presented arguments in favour of a DP-analysis (Tappe 2007:260f).

After having shortly introduced the analysis upon which the following argumentation will be based and slightly touched the notion of empty D s, it has finally to be mentioned that the notion of licensing and DP-internal agreement offered and explained by Tappe (2007:261ff), qualify as an additional precondition for further analysis. However, at this point it is not necessary to expose his reasoning at length. It suffices to bear in mind that elements within a DP certainly agree in their features, so that (6) a. in the following is recognized as ungrammatical, whereas (6) b. is well phrased:

(6) a. * Interesting book was published.

b. This/ an interesting book was published.

3. Determiners

The category of determiners in the English language includes in the first place the articles the, a and an, the “existential determinatives” some and any (Huddleston et al. 2002:356) as well as the “negative determinative” (ibid.) no. The element Ø D has also to be included within the class of determiners. Further elements are the “demonstrative determinatives” (ibid.) this, that and their plural counterparts these and those. The class D also contains some pronouns which will be looked at in more detail in section 3.5.

3.1 General remarks

While paying close attention to the objects of investigation and their syntactic and semantic properties, the most apparent linguistic fact is that they belong to a grammatical word class. Grammatical classes are usually closed, that is, they rarely adopt new members. Mutually exclusiveness is another characteristic of these modifiers, which can easily be demonstrated by the ungrammaticality of examples like:



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Determiners Quantifiers Differences



Title: Determiners and Quantifiers - Differences