Work on regional variation in mass/count nouns?

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Tue May 15 16:01:01 UTC 2007

At 5/15/2007 10:41 AM, Joseph Salmons wrote:
>In fact, Jan Freeman, who writes "The Word" for the Boston Globe,
>just did a piece on 'a coffee' recently:

Good thing we're not the German Dialect Society email list.  What
would we say about someone ordering "ein Bier"?  (Was he asking for
"a" or "one"?)  Although I'm told that one politely requests "etwas
Wasser, bitte".

Actually, I'm puzzled by discussion about "a" versus "one".  Don't
people readily (that is, unregionally) say either for count
nouns?  As someone noted earlier: "Bring me a beer."  "Bring us one
beer and two mineral waters."  When the "mass" is one order, it
becomes counted.

(The regional interest in "a scissor" vs. "scissors", or "a beer" vs.
"some beer", I do understand.)


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