Re: mass/count nouns and SARX

From: Micheal Palmer (
Date: Tue Sep 09 1997 - 23:49:32 EDT

At 12:37 PM -0700 9/8/97, lakr wrote regarding the issue of mass nouns
(non-count nouns):

>. . . Is this type of
>phenomenon to be expected in other words which can be classified as
>'mass' nouns. ? I regret that my introductory grammar never taught
>me this, and I have yet to purchase or pick an intermediate grammar.

Yes, there are others besides SARX. I do not have a ready list at hand, and
it's too late at night for my memory to be functioning, but there are.

You will not find much help in the grammars, though. This is one of those
issues awaiting (crying out for?) a good doctoral dissertation. :-) Most
languages have a distinction between two groups of nouns, one of which can
be made plural and whose referent is though of as countable (1, 2, 3 dogs,
etc.), while the other group is never used in the plural and its referents
may LOGICALLY be counted, but are thought of by native speakers as not
being countable, so that a different word must be utilized to express the
plural. (When was the last time you heard someone ask to be served 150
rices? But I'm sure you have at some time heard an expression like '150
GRAINS OF rice'. The word 'grain' must be inserted to express the plural
notion for 'rice'.)

Now, . . . Greek also has a similar distinction, but to my knowledge no
extensive study has ever been published on the subject. Any takers?

Micheal W. Palmer
Religion & Philosophy
Meredith College

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