Notional number agreement in English
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To investigate the contested role of notional number in English subject-verb agreement, we used a sentence completion task to examine agreement with minimally different subject noun-phrases, such as the gang on the motorcycles and the gang near the motorcycles. These contrasting phrases biased different notional construals of collective nouns, such as gang, which are normally ambiguous between plural (distributed) and singular (collected) construals. With subjects biased toward spatial distribution, such as gang on motorcycles, more plural verbs occurred in speakers' sentence completions than in sentence completions with a bias toward spatial collection, such as gang near motorcycles. This offers strong evidence regarding both the existence and the magnitude of notional effects on subject-verb number agreement in English.
has subject area
presented at event