Partitives, double genitives and anti-uniqueness

Chris Barker

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This paper offers an explanation for a little-known but striking phenomenon first discussed by Jackendoff (1968b) that I will call ANTI-UNIQUENESS: partitives are incompatible with the definite determiner (*I met the one of John's friends), unless the partitive first receives additional modification (I met the [[one of John's friends] that he traveled with from Mexico]). I argue that an independently needed refinement of the semantic analyses of the partitive of Ladusaw (1982) and Hoeksema (1984) automatically predicts these anti-uniqueness facts. More specifically, I propose that partitivity is always proper partitivity. This will guarantee that any property denoted by a partitive will have at least two entities in its extension, and cannot uniquely identify an individual; thus partitives are anti-unique. In addition, this paper makes a new case for analyzing double genitives as partitives. A number of syntactic and semantic arguments will show that, despite appearances, so-called double genitives (a friend of John's) have less in common with a superficially quite similar type of simple genitive (a friend of John) than with standard partitives (one of John's friends). If double genitives are indeed a type of partitive, this explains why they also exhibit anti-uniqueness effects: *I met [the friend of John's] is bad but I met the [[friend of John's] that he traveled with from Mexico] is perfectly fine.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)679-717
    Number of pages39
    JournalNatural Language and Linguistic Theory
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Nov 1998

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Language and Linguistics
    • Linguistics and Language


    Dive into the research topics of 'Partitives, double genitives and anti-uniqueness'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this