Atomic Structures in the Denotation Of Abstract Nouns

Halima Husić


Countability is a universal lexical category that provides a binary division of nouns into countable anduncountable nouns or is also called count and mass nouns. Usually, count nouns refer to things or objectswhich can be individuated and thus counted, while mass nouns refer to substances or stuff such as water,wine, blood, or mud for which it is less easy to identify what and how to count. This cognitive divisionleaves abstract nouns out. Abstract nouns neither refer to things or objects nor to substances or stuff. Onthe contrary, the reference of abstract nouns is rather heterogeneous comprising different kinds of nounssuch as processes, states, events, measure and time terms, and alike. The aim of this paper is to presentthe challenges abstract nouns pose for theories of countability, and to reflect on possibilities toincorporate abstract nouns in contemporary theories of countability. The research discussed in this papercircles around English abstract nouns but we will also discuss the application of certain semanticphenomena onto Bosnian nouns.


countability; abstract nouns; atoms; polysemy; context

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