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Measure nouns of high quantity

Nouns of high quantity include: soad lot, protte lot, bulte heap. There are quite a few nouns which have developed into high quantity measure nouns. They are invariably indefinite, more specifically, they are preceded by the indefinite article.


The example below exemplifies a construction featuring two nouns which are joined together without the use of other elements. It is therefore referred to as a bare partitive construction:

Example 1

In soad flikken
a lot chocolate.drops
A lot of chocolate drops

The word soad lot does not preserve its literal, referential meaning. Etymologically, the word goes back to the meaning an amount of food that can be cooked in one pot. However, the word developed into a measure noun merely denoting a large amount, and does no longer refer to food, cooking pots or anything referential. Therfore it can also be followed by a content noun denoting persons:

Example 2

In soad minsken
a lot people
A lot of people

The measure noun is not itself specified for singular or plural. In this respect, measure nouns differ from referential nouns, which do determine number. With singular measure nouns, number is determined by the content noun, as is shown by the contrast below:

Example 3

a. In soad wetter wie der net
a lot water.SG was.SG there not
There was not a lot of water
b. In soad minsken wienen der net
a lot people.PL were.PL was there not
There were not a lot of people

In case the content noun can be recovered from the linguistic context, it can be left out:

Example 4

a. In soad wie der net
a lot was.SG there not
There was not a lot (of water)
b. In soad wienen der net
a lot were.PL was there not
There were not a lot (of people)

Attention should be drawn to the indefinite article of the measure noun, which is present even if the construction as a whole is plural. The indefinite article may co-occur with plural nouns only if a high amount or degree is implied. This is characteristically the case in exclamative sentences:

Example 5

Hy seach in minsken yn 'e stêd!
he saw a people in the town
He saw a lot of people in the town!