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Keywords

countability, nouns, non-countable nouns, countable nouns

Abstract

This paper aims to broaden our understanding of countability beyond what is found with concrete nouns, providing a one-word case study of the countable and non-countable uses of the noun crime. I show that the behavior of crime runs counter to a variety of expectations inherited from the literature on countability: its countable use cannot be directly grounded in atomic acts or events, nor is its non- countable use simply equivalent to a plural individual composed of individual crimes, as one might expect on analogy with certain analyses of furniture. Additionally, while crime has a use as a bare plural, that use does not refer to a kind. A quantitative study supports these conclusions. Altogether, crime demonstrates a novel noun type with respect to its nominal semantics and countability behavior, which is also an indication of the large empirical terrain that awaits exploration for eventive and abstract nouns.

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