Bare nominals in Catalan and Spanish. Their structure and meaning

M.Teresa Espinal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


This paper focuses on the nominal system of Catalan and Spanish, two Romance languages that have both a morphologically binary number distinction and a determiner system, but which still allow bare singular count nominals (BNs) in internal argument position. In particular, this paper investigates the structure and meaning of these nominal expressions. It shows that BNs in object position are not singular, and do not denote individual entities, either object-level individuals or kinds. Instead, they denote properties of kinds. This denotation conveys a number-neutral (NN) interpretation that is compatible with atomicity as well as non-atomicity entailments, a reading that can lead to either an enriched singularity or a plurality interpretation in appropriate contexts. The paper also highlights the differences between BNs and bare plurals, and between BNs and mass nouns. From a lexical perspective BNs have neither cumulativity nor divisivity of reference, but involve atomic domains. A Number projection is conceived as a realization function (from properties of kinds to either object individuals or sum entities). A definite Determiner is interpreted as the iota-operator, which can apply directly to a Noun and instantiate a kind-denoting expression; if it applies to a Number projection, it selects the unique satisfier or maximal object that has the property denoted by the nominal expression. An operation of quantification excludes a NN interpretation. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)984-1009
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2010


  • Bare nominals
  • Catalan
  • Number neutrality
  • Property denotation
  • Spanish


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