The Category of Number of English Nouns — страница 7

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singular excludes the use of the modifying numeral one, as well as the indefinite article. The absolute singular is characteristic of the names of abstract notions {peace, love, joy, courage, friendship, etc.), the names of the branches of professional activity {chemistry, architecture, mathematics, linguistics, etc.), the names of mass-materials {water, snow, steel, hair, etc.), the names of collective inanimate objects {foliage, fruit, furniture, machinery, etc.). Some of these words can be used in the form of the common singular with the common plural counterpart, but in this case they come to mean either different sorts of materials, or separate concrete manifestations of the qualities denoted by abstract nouns, or concrete objects exhibiting the respective qualities. Cf.:

Joy is absolutely necessary for normal human life.— It was a joy to see her among us. Helmets for motor-cycling are nowadays made of plastics instead of steel.— Using different modifications of the described method, super-strong steels are produced for various purposes. The lexicalising effect of the correlative number forms (both singular and plural) in such cases is evident, since the categorial component of the referential meaning in each of them is changed from uncountability to countability. Thus, the oppositional reduction is here nullified in a peculiarly lexicalising way, and the full oppositional force of the category of number is rehabilitated. Common number with uncountable singular nouns can also be expressed by means of combining them with words showing

discreteness, such as bit, piece, item, sort. Cf.: The last two items of news were quite sensational. Now I'd like to add one more bit of information. You might as well dispense with one or two pieces of furniture in the hall. This kind of rendering the grammatical meaning of common number with uncountable nouns is, in due situational conditions, so regular that it can be regarded as special suppletivity in the categorial system of number (see Ch. III, §4). On the other hand, the absolute singular, by way of functional oppositional reduction, can be used with countable nouns. In such cases the nouns are taken to express either the corresponding abstract ideas, or else the meaning of some mass-material correlated with its countable referent. Cf.: Waltz is a lovely dance. There

was dead desert all around them. The refugees needed shelter. Have we got chicken for the second course? Under this heading (namely, the first of the above two subpoints) comes also the generic use of the singular. Cf.: Man's immortality lies in his deeds. Wild elephant in the Jungle can be very dangerous. In the sphere of the plural, likewise, we must recognise the common plural form as the regular feature of countability, and the absolute plural form peculiar to the uncountable subclass of pluralia tantum nouns. The absolute plural, as different from the common plural, cannot directly combine with numerals, and only occasionally does it combine with discrete quantifiers (many, few, etc.). The absolute plural is characteristic of the uncountable nouns which denote objects

consisting of two halves (trousers, scissors, tongs, spectacles, etc.), the nouns expressing some sort of collective meaning, i.e. rendering the idea of indefinite plurality, both concrete and abstract (supplies, outskirts, clothes, parings; tidings, earnings, contents, politics; police, cattle, poultry, etc.), the nouns denoting some diseases as well as some abnormal states of the body and mind (measles, rickets, mumps, creeps, hysterics, etc.). As is seen from the examples, from the point of view of number as such, the absolute plural forms can be divided into set absolute plural (objects of two halves) and non-set absolute plural (the rest). The set plural can also be distinguished among the common plural forms, namely, with nouns denoting fixed sets of objects, such as eyes

of the face, legs of the body, legs of the table, wheels of the vehicle, funnels of the steamboat, windows of the room, etc. The necessity of expressing definite numbers in cases of uncountable pluralia tantum nouns, as well as in cases of countable nouns denoting objects in fixed sets, has brought about different suppletive combinations specific to the plural form of the noun, which exist alongside of the suppletive combinations specific to the singular form of the noun shown above. Here belong collocations with such words as pair, set, group, bunch and some others. Cf.: a pair of pincers; three pairs of bathing trunks; a few groups of police; two sets of dice; several cases of measles; etc. The absolute plural, by way of functional oppositional reduction, can be represented in