Restrictions on subkind coercion in object mass nouns


  • Peter Sutton
  • Hana Filip


Rothstein (2015) raises the following puzzle. Why should it be the case that mass nouns like rice receive a coerced taxonomic plural reading when directly modified by a numerical expression, but object mass nouns like furniture, jewellery and crockery do not? For example, three rices can mean THREE KINDS OF RICE, but three furnitures cannot mean THREE KINDS OF FURNITURE. We attempt to solve this puzzle by providing an analysis of kind readings for concrete count and mass nouns generally, which is based on the analysis of their nonkind predicate readings in Sutton and Filip (2016a). The key property driving our analysis is the extensional overlap of subkinds at each level of categorisation. Object mass nouns have extensionally overlapping subkinds relative to a level of categorisation, while other mass nouns do not. We also differentiate between count and mass nouns in terms of counting contexts. Artefact denoting count nouns such as vehicle have a felicitous taxonomic plural, because, on our account, count nouns are linked to specific counting contexts, which force the resolution of potential overlap between objects in their denotation. Artefact denoting mass nouns such as furniture do not have a felicitous taxonomic plural, because mass nouns are saturated with the null counting context which leaves any overlap in the noun’s subkind structure unresolved.


How to Cite

Sutton, P., & Filip, H. (2019). Restrictions on subkind coercion in object mass nouns. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 21(2), 1195–1214. Retrieved from