An associative plural is a nominal expression that refers to a group by naming its most salient member (1). The
construction is used to introduce a new group into discourse, a group that is understood to be inherently (or contextually) associated with its named protagonist.
(1) Pa-hulle (Afrikaans, den Besten 1996:16)
‘Dad and Mum' or 'Dad and his folks’
In this paper, I argue for an analysis of associative plurals as phrasal expressions where the protagonist and the group are two separate syntactic entities. Namely, I suggest that associatives are headed by a non-descriptive nominal with group semantics. The reference of this group is determined through its association with the protagonist. The protagonist is a referential modifier which starts out in a modifier projection and moves to the specifier of DP. I begin by showing that associative protagonists share a number of syntactic and morphological properties with other types of referential modifiers such as demonstratives, personal pronouns and certain types of possessives. I go on to demonstrate that languages employ different strategies in spelling out the functional features of the non-descriptive group nominal, and that the apparent surface diversity of associative marking can be derived from the same syntactic structure. Finally, I suggest that my analysis of associatives can be extended to personal pronouns in their associative, anaphoric, and non-canonical interpretations.
"A syntactic analysis of nominal and pronominal associative plurals,"
University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics: Vol. 14:
1, Article 26.
Available at: https://repository.upenn.edu/pwpl/vol14/iss1/26