|From:||Jeff Jones <jeffsjones@...>|
|Date:||Tuesday, August 7, 2001, 10:58|
On Mon, 6 Aug 2001 11:08:11 -0700, J Matthew Pearson
>Aidan Grey wrote:
>> Ran teithan Jeff:
>> > I hope you're kidding -- that is not at all how I
>> > understand "distributive"
>> > and "collective". To me, "distributive" is like
>> > mathematical distributive
>> > and "collective" means that the set of entities is
>> > treated like an entity
>> > itself.
>> Nope, he's not kidding. And it gets weirder still,
>> like in my example above. Remember that every
>> occupation will have its unique uses of certain terms.
>> A psychologist will have a very different
>> understanding of distributive than a mathematician!
>Well, no, actually the mathematical senses of the term "collective" and
>"distributive" *are* used in linguistics--perhaps not with reference to
>number, but certainly with reference to quantification over individuals and
>events. Consider a sentence like "Everybody went to the village". This is
>ambiguous: It could mean that everybody went to the village together (a
>single event). That's the collective construal. Or it could mean that
>different groups of one or more people went to the village at different
>times (multiple events). In the latter case, we say that the events of
>going to the village are distributed among the individuals in the set
>denoted by "everybody".
>I wouldn't be surprised if some language somewhere distinguished the
>collective and distributive interpretations grammatically--either by using
>different quantifiers (my conlang Tokana does this), or perhaps by using
>different plural markers. Maybe some or all of the languages which Marcus
>was referring to actually work like this. Then there are languages which
>allow you to pluralise the verb itself to indicate multiple events; in such
>languages, "Everybody went to the village" could be disambiguated by just
>looking at the number marking on the verb.
Thanks, Matt -- I was getting worried.
This reminds me, I've been thinking about quantification, number, and
numbers lately and trying to figure out how they relate, not very
successfully so far.