Brasoveanu, Adrian 2008. Measure Noun Polysemy and Monotonicity: Evidence from Romanian Pseudopartitives,

to appear in the Proceedings of the 38th Meeting of the North East Linguistic Society.

The two goals of this paper are: (i) to argue that, syntactically, the measure noun is the head of the extended projection in Romanian pseudopartitive constructions like (1) – much like the leftmost noun is the head of true partitive constructions like (2) (in Romanian, the preposition de appears only with pseudopartitives, while the preposition din/dintre appears only with true partitives); (ii) to propose a suitable semantics for  pseudopartitives that accommodates this syntactic generalization.

(1) zece grame de
brînză (de capră)                               (2) zece grame din această brînză (de capră)
    ten    grams of cheese (of goat)                                       ten    grams of   this       cheese (of goat)
    ten grams of (goat) cheese                                              ten grams of this (goat) cheese
(3) #zece grame din brînză (de capră)                            (4) #zece grame de această brînză (de capră)

One of the two main contributions is arguing that measure nouns are polysemous, i.e. they have two distinct, but closely related senses: (i) a degree-based one, present in comparatives like Linus is two pounds heavier than Gabby or (arguably) nominal compounds like two pound stone, and (ii) an individual-based sense, present in pseudopartitives like ten grams of cheese or true partitives like ten grams of this cheese and their Romanian counterparts in (1) and (2) above. Secondly, the polysemy proposal enables us to derive the observation in Schwarzschild (2006) ("The Role of Dimensions in the Syntax of Noun Phrases", Syntax 9.1) that measure expressions are monotonic in pseudopartitives (I use (non-)monotonic in the sense of Schwarzschild 2006). Syntactically and semantically, the measure expression is the head of the pseudopartitive while the other nominal expression is the non-head, in contrast to Schwarzschild (2006), where the head/non-head categorization is reversed.