Atomic Homogeneity: A semantic strategy for the determination of plurality in the complex noun phrases of South African English

  • Mark de Vos


The existence of a particular semantic agreement strategy, what I will here call Atomic Homogeneity, has been argued to determine plurality in complex noun phrases. If the denotational properties of a complex noun phrase can be distributed to its smallest, atomic subset then plural agreement is the result. This paper explores this prediction using a large-scale experiment and demonstrates that Atomic Homogeneity is a highly significant statistical effect in the data, thus validating the prediction of this strategy. In addition, this paper serves a methodological purpose by exploring the utility of large-scale data collection by peer interview. Although it might be expected that the method is noisy, this is offset by the large amount of data collected and which is more amenable to statistical analysis than smaller-scale case studies.

Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies 2014, 32(1): 1–19

Author Biography

Mark de Vos
Department of English Language and Linguistics, Rhodes University, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1727-9461
print ISSN: 1607-3614