Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Dec 7 08:11:23 UTC 2000

>At 12:56 PM 12/7/00 +0800, you wrote:
>>At 12:30 PM -0500 12/7/00, Beverly Flanigan wrote:
>>>This is the partitive genitive, right?  I recall the term from French
>>>study, where 'des' would be used for "some (of an unspecified quantity of)
>>><plural noun>.  So, we can also say "I bought some books" with implied "of
>>>an unspecified quantity."  'Many', 'a few/few', 'any' work this way--others?
>>Actually, I'd argue (and have argued, following Milsark) that "I
>>bought some books" is not inherently partitive, as opposed to "I
>>bought some of the books" or "I eat SOME meats".  (The unstressed
>>non-partitive purely existential "some" of the first example is
>>sometimes indicated by "sm" in the literature.)  "Many" and "few"
>>have both these uses as well:  "He has many problems" doesn't
>>presuppose a pre-existent set of problems of which he has many (i.e.
>>a significant subset), and similarly for "She made few mistakes".
>>"He solved many/few of the problems" does have such a presupposition.
>>"Most", on the other hand, is always partitive or proportional (even
>>without a following "of the"), and "all" and "no"/"none" are as well.
>Thanks!  This was very helpful.  I was wondering about 'none' vs. 'any', in
>fact; I assume 'any' could be either partitive or not so?  "Did you buy any
>books?"  "No, I haven't bought any for years" vs. "Did you buy any (of
>those in a set)?" "No, I bought none (of that set)."

Yes; and presumably this stems from the close relation between "any"
and "some".  "I've never seen any unicorns" can be true without
presupposing an existing set of unicorns of which I'm asserting I've
never seen any of the members.   I should probably also mention that
under certain conditions "no" and "none" can function in this way as
well, as in "No unicorns are in the garden" or "There are no mistakes
in the text".  (The two readings in question are sometimes called
"weak"  and "strong" in the literature--the latter is what we've been
calling partitive.  I have a CLS paper on this stuff from '97 (CLS


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