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Syntax Interface Lectures Utrecht


3 May 2021
16:00 - 17:00
MS Teams

Sjef Barbiers (Leiden University)

Dutch, English and some Italian ONEs

ONE is a multifunctional item in many languages. E.g., in English, it can be used as a pro-N (1) and a numeral (1), a high degree element (2), and an indefinitizer (3), among other things.


(1)           She bought one blue one and two red ones.

(2)           She is one great teacher.

(3)           There’s one John Smith at the door.


Which functions ONE can have depends on the language, and which properties it has depends on the syntactic context. While in English ONE cannot be combined with MANY directly (*many one), in Dutch it can (menigeen), and while Dutch ONE is normally not restricted to humans, it is restricted to humans in morphologically complex quantifiers such as menigeen ‘many people’ and iedereen ‘everyone’.


In this talk I systematically compare English and Dutch ONE by. I argue that different functions of ONE involve different levels of pronominalization, using modificational possibilities as a major diagnostic. The analysis builds on work by Garzonio and Poletto (2017) on complex quantifiers in varieties of Italian.