This volume explores the expression of the concepts count and mass in human language and probes the complex relation between seemingly incontrovertible aspects of meaning and their varied grammatical realizations across languages. In English, count uns are those that can be counted and pluralized (two cats), whereas mass uns cant be, at least t without a change in meaning (#two rices). The chapters in this volume explore the question of the cognitive and linguistic universality and variability of the concepts count and mass from philosophical, semantic, and morpho-syntactic points of view, touching also on issues in acquisition and processing. The volume also significantly contributes to our cross-linguistic kwledge, as it includes chapters with a focus on Blackfoot, Cantonese, Dagaare, English, Halkomelem, Lithuanian, Malagasy, Mandarin, Ojibwe, and Persian, as well as discussion of several other languages including Armenian, Hungarian, and Korean. The overall consensus of this volume is that while the general concepts of count and mass are available to all humans, forms of grammaticalization involving number, classifiers, and determiners play a key role in their linguistic treatment, and indeed in whether these concepts are grammatically expressed at all. This variation may be reflect the fact that count/mass is just one possible realization of a deeper and broader concept, itself related to the categories of minal and verbal aspect.
Diane Massam is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Toronto where she served as Chair of Linguistics from 2002 to 2008. Her research focus is on syntactic theory, in the areas of argument structure, case, predication, and word order, working mainly on Niuean, a Polynesian language. She is the co-editor of Ergativity: Emerging issues (Springer 2006) and has published papers in many journals such as Lingua, Oceanic Linguistics, Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, English Language and Linguistics, and Syntax. She has held several research grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and was co-editor of Squibs for Linguistic Inquiry (1998-2002), honorary research fellow at the University of Auckland (2001), visiting professor at Harvard University (2006), and an Erskine Fellow at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand (2010).