Bare Plurals in Spanish are Interpreted as Properties

Louise McNally


In this paper, I argue that bare plural noun phrases in Spanish unambiguously denote properties of individuals. I begin by using evidence from their incompatibility with kind-level predicates to show that Spanish bare plurals do not denote kinds. I then point to crucial ways in which their interaction with quantifiers is unlike that of other indefinite NPs (specifically, they have obliga- tory narrowest scope and cannot contribute the main restriction on a quantifier), and I conclude that bare plurals must therefore have a different semantics from other indefinites. I present a for- mal semantic analysis which allows for any verbal predicate in Spanish to combine with a property- type noun phrase, showing how this analysis can also account for certain facts involving discourse anaphora to bare plurals. Finally, I discuss the advantages of the proposed analysis over those which try to maintain a uniform semantics for bare plurals and indefinites and indicate some of the general implications of the proposal.


semantics, properties, bare nominals, incorporation

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Copyright (c) 2004 Louise McNally