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Metaphorically quantified nouns
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The referential partitive noun may receive a measure interpretation of high amount by virtue of its metaphorical interpretation. This phenomenon may make it clear how referential nouns may develop into measure nouns.

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The following examples involve concrete referential nouns which receive a quantificational interpretation of high amount by virtue of their metaphorical interpretation.

Example 1

a. Bergen minsken
mountains people
Lots of people
b. Massa's wetter
masses water
Lots of water

The metaphorically quantified noun determines the number of the construction as a whole.

Example 2

a. Der foelen massa's wetter oer it skip
there fell.PL masses.PL water.SG on the ship
Loads of water fell on the ship
b. *Der foel massa's wetter oer it skip
there fell.SG masses.PL water.SG on the ship
Loads of water fell on the ship

The metaphorically quantified noun can be preceded by a proximate demonstrative:

Example 3

a. Dizze bergen minsken
these mountains people
These masses of people
b. Dizze massa's wetter
these masses water
These masses of water

Metaphorically quantified nouns are therefore not truly quantificational: they are referential from a syntactic point of view. This is clear from the following facts:

  1. The metaphorically quantified noun can be put in the plural.
  2. It determines the number of the construction as a whole.
  3. It can be modified by a demonstrative.

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