Plural marking in Turkish: Additive or associative?

  • Emrah Görgülü
Keywords: Additive plural, Associative plural, Turkish


In this paper I investigate the syntactic and semantic properties of the additive/regular plural marker and associative plural marker -lAr in Turkish. I propose that they are in fact different from each other in terms of their syntax and semantics although they share the same surface form in the language.

Turkish has a plural marker -lAr which basically attaches to nouns and pluralizes their reference. In addition, -lAr can also give rise to a reading in which pluralized proper names and kinship terms denote either family or company (cf. Sebüktekin (1971) and Göksel and Kerslake (2005)). I argue here that despite their surface resemblance, these two plural markers are distinct both syntactically and semantically in the sense that the former is additive while the latter is associative. When a pluralized noun appears in a genitive construction, the plural marker comes before the possessive suffix. On the other hand, when a proper name appears with the plural in the same construction, the plural marker comes after the possessive suffix. Moreover, the additive plural induces both collective and distributive interpretations whereas the associative plural -lAr gives rise to only the collective reading. Based on these facts, I argue that the additive and associative plural -lAr head different functional categories and are interpreted differently. Following Ritter (1991), I assume that the additive plural is the head of the functional category NUMP. It turns nominal predicates denoting singularities into predicates denoting pluralities. On the other hand, the associative plural heads a different category, namely, GRP (cf. Nakanishi and Ritter (2008)) and gives rise to some sort of a group reading whose reference contains a focal referent and some other individual(s).

Author Biography

Emrah Görgülü
Department of Linguistics/Graduate student