Countability of nouns

 

 

As Allan (1980) has noted, countability is a matter of degree even in English. Compare for instance this contrast between clothing and clothes: (1) a. several / many / *three clothes b. *several / *many / *three clothing (1) shows that some uncountable nouns are OK with count determiners like many even if they’re not compatible with numerals. Two factors (among others) that have been hypothesized to be involved in determining the degree of countability of nouns are (1) the morphological structure of the noun, and (2) the properties of the kind of event that is typically associated with the noun. Now, consider the following nouns with these hypotheses in mind:
(2) weapon; weaponry; arms; firearm
[A.] Use contrasts like the one in (1) to classify the above nouns based on degree of countability.
[B.] Reflect on the two hypotheses above, based on your answer in (A) and other relevant properties of the nouns in (2). That is, what evidence for or against these hypotheses can you gather from the properties and behavior of these nouns? (You don’t have to reach a decisive conclusion or provide an analysis; note also that the hypotheses aren’t mutually exclusive.)

 

 

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