Nominals and number neutrality in languages
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This overview article is concerned with number neutrality of Noun Phrases (NPs henceforth) across languages. Number is one of the fundamental grammatical categories, being found in both the nominal and the verbal domains. Although the specification of number among languages varies significantly, number is rather understudied when compared to other grammatical categories. Number neutrality is not so different, and it has only gained more attention in recent studies despite being an important phenomenon. Work on this particular topic has demonstrated that number-neutral NPs can be morphologically singular or plural and are found in various constructions across typologically different languages. Number-neutral NPs do not express semantic number and do not co-occur with any number-expressing elements such as numerals or quantifiers. Number neutrality with singular bare NPs surfaces in various constructions such as compounding, (pseudo) incorporation, and kind-reference/genericity, while the distribution of bare plural NPs is not so constrained. Number-neutral NPs in these structures were shown to differ significantly from their number-specific counterparts in terms of their semantic and discourse characteristics such as referentiality, discourse anaphora, relativization, and scope. In this article, I provide a descriptive overview of these issues by bringing together empirical facts drawn from various constructions. The discussion also includes some important theoretical approaches to number neutrality.