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Linguistics Fridays Colloquium – Burner
November 15, 2019 @ 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Exploring the Formal Features of Mass Neuter in Asturian
Matthew Burner, Ph.D. student in Hispanic Linguistics
University of Wisconsin-Madison
According to the literature, there are a few noun sets in Asturian that formally distinguish between count and mass by making use of their theme vowel. For example, fierru (‘an iron object’) in comparison to fierro (‘iron’ [material]) or filu (‘a thread’) in comparison to filo (‘linen’ [material]). Known as “mass neuter” or the “mass/count distinction” in the literature, the final -u is semantically count and the final -o is semantically mass, therefore explaining the intended readings in parentheses. However, the theme vowel is not always an indication of a mass versus a count interpretation (cf. ropa (‘clothing’)). This invites the question as to how we can capture the mass/count distinction in Asturian while still taking into account the formal features of other nouns in the language. With this in mind, the goal of this talk is to offer a theoretical account of noun derivation in the Asturian language in a way that both addresses noun pairs like fierru/fierro while also accounting for the rest of Asturian’s nominal behavior.