Native Speakers’ Conceptualizations of Meanings of English Nouns in Count and Mass Contexts
Keywords:countability, concrete, abstract, individuated, non-individuated
This qualitative study investigates native speakers’ conceptualizations of noun countability. It attempts to uncover the meaning shifts from the native speakers’ viewpoints when nouns alternate their countability status. The opening section provides a background of the count/mass distinction of English nouns discussed in the previous theoretical literature and the morphological and semantic differences in the nominal systems between English and Thai. The second section describes an exploratory study, which examines how native English speakers conceptualize countability of nouns used with different articles in different contexts. In the third section, the qualitative results of the study are presented in order to verify some of the claims made in the literature (e.g. Alan, 1980; Baldwin & Bond, 2003; Mufwene, 1984; Wierzbicka, 1988). The concluding section summarizes the findings with empirical generalizations and recommendation for future research. It is anticipated that this paper will offer pedagogical implications for teachers to develop a more informed method and prepare proper materials to teach their students how to use contexts to determine countability of English nouns.
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