# Mass Terms: Some Philosophical Problems

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Part of the Synthese Language Library book series (SLAP, volume 6)

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Part of the Synthese Language Library book series (SLAP, volume 6)

I. MASS TERMS, COUNT TERMS, AND SORTAL TERMS Central examples of mass terms are easy to come by. 'Water', 'smoke', 'gold', etc. , differ in their syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic properties from count terms such as 'man', 'star', 'wastebasket', etc. Syntactically, it seems, mass terms do, but singular count terms do not, admit the quantifier phrases 'much', 'an amount of', 'a little', etc. The typical indefinite article for them is 'some' (unstressed)!, and this article cannot be used with singular count terms. Count terms, but not mass terms, use the quantifiers 'each', 'every', 'some', 'few', 'many'; and they use 'a(n)' as the indefinite article. They can, unlike the mass terms, take numerals as prefixes. Mass terms seem not to have a plural. Semantically, philo sophers have characterized count terms as denoting (classes of?) indi vidual objects, whereas what mass terms denote are cumulative and dissective. (That is, a mass term is supposed to be true of any sum of things (stuff) it is true of, and true of any part of anything of which it is true). Pragmatically, it seems that speakers use count terms when they wish to refer to individual objects, or when they wish to reidentify a particular already introduced into discoursc. Given a "space appropriate" to a count term C, it makes sense to ask how many C's there are in that space.

Ontologie language mass nouns nouns objects singular subject

- DOI https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4110-5
- Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 1979
- Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
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- Print ISBN 978-1-4020-3265-3
- Online ISBN 978-1-4020-4110-5
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