Expressing quantity in English and Romanian

Language through speech acts has become a reflex activity, even
instinctive, used by man as an everyday instrument the depth and value of
which remains indiscernible for its common user. Man usually does not think
of this complex system of perception and conceptualization of the reality by
the human mind through language when uttering even a very simple sentence
like the following: I have bought a kilo of nice apples, by which a series of
ontological categories are brought to the surface.
The first who examined and formulated these global images of
existence, that are placed somewhere between conscesness and
unconscesness was Aristotle, who introduced the term of “categories” defined
as ways of existing for any being, and classified them into: substance, quantity,
quality, relation, place, time, position, duration, etc.
Quantity is an ontological category which stands for the inherent
property of the material essence of existence, which represent the
measurable, countable, or comparable aspect of a thing.
As a concept, quantity is very ample being expressed by such
determinations as number, degree, measure, size, extend, surface,
duration, intensity, rhythm, and others. The human spirit perceives the
existential reality, the world around which he is an integral part of, in
quantitative and qualitative dimensions stored in mind, concepts that find
peculiar and interesting forms to be expresses in the language.
It is of paramount necessity to establish as exhaustively as possible a
unified terminological list of concepts for the quantitative category within the
realm of grammatical and lexical means expressing the quantitative category
in the two languages under consideration: English and Romanian; the fact
which is difficult enough considering the complexity of the concept of quantity
itself, and exempt to be explained by different causes such as the following:
1. The category of quantity appear under diverse aspects: degree,
measure, mass, surface, size, etc.
2. It is important to delimit lexical units, which serve as quantifiers
within the process of quantification. The latter is more complex,
because it involves two factors of the process: the quantifier and
the quantified.
3. The quantitative category is not the object of study of any
particular chapter in Romanian grammar. This linguistic issue is
treated within other grammatical chapters, such as: the numeral,
the plural number, adverbs of quantity, indefinite adjectives and
pronouns, indefinite articles etc. As for the English language the
state of affairs has recently changed since more and more
grammarians have begun envisaging linguistic means of the
quantitative category under a separate chapter devoted to
quantifiers only, be it only within the grammatical class of the
4. The major difficulty of contrasting the linguistic means of the
quantitative category is also caused by the totally different
internal core features of the two languages. Thus, English is an
analytic language, while Romanian is a synthetic one.

In such a way , as a result of a minute analysis and deep thought we
decided to operate with the following terms related to the quantitative
category: quantity, quantum, quantifier, quantified, quantitative,
Quantity is 1) a generic term used when referring to the measurement
of a scalar, vector, number of items or to some other way of denominating the
value of a collection or group of items; 2) a specified or indefinite , a
considerable, an exact number or amount of something.
A quantity of food, an amount of books, a number of people
O cantitate/ un numar de lucruri, de carti, de oameni
Quantum-generally it is a logical and mathematical concept which
refers to an amount of something, a specified portion, something that can be
counted or measured. But the term can be used in the more specific linguistic
sense of quantifier, since every linguistic quantifier represents the entity
which serves as the operational unit of the quantification.
Quantifier is any word or expression which gives a relative or
indefinite indication of quantity.
Some/many/few in some/ in some/many/few children
Niste/multi/putini in niste/multi/putini copii
Quantified- is the referential unit/entity which is measured. A
reference is the concrete object or concept that is designated by a word or
expression. A referent is thing, action, state, relationship or attribute in the
referential realm.
Children in some/many/few children;
Copii in niste/multi/putini copii
Quantitative is what can be expressed or is expressible as a quantity,
relating to, or susceptible of measurement, or relating to number or quantity.
Quantification is first a notion of logic, there has not been given a
linguistic acceptance of the tern yet. We can say that it is an operation which
should be distinguished and considered from the point of view of its inner
nature. The essence of the quantification as a process is:
a. To multiply the referential unit if the word is countable.
b. To amplify the referential unit if the word is uncountable.
because it is quite ungrammatical to say:

I have eaten very apples/ She is a lot of nice.
Am mincat foarte mere/ Ea este mult fromoasa.
Quantification in its very simplest sense can be found in statements
such as :
A is greater than B.
In the example cited, an expression is made that A has a greater quantity
of something than B; and that if A and B if the order is arranged on an
increasing scale. Thus we can say that it seems to be a universal characteristic
of language that entities are regarded as divisible or indivisible, so things may
be represented as quantifiable or unquantifiable. Indeed the categorization of
things on this dimension is not fixed at an upper level. Quantification is notion
of logic but one that is worth being used in linguistics as well. In order to
understand why quantification in a necessary concept both in formal logic and
language, we should consider that any common noun naming an object we
may think of is associated with the totality of objects of the same type.
Quantification is a means to quantify what proportion of that totality we
have in mind. Let us consider some examples: When we say are barking/ niste
caini latra we refer to the totality of dogs. In both “ a dog is barking” and “the
dog is barking”/ “un caine latra” and “ cainele latra” we refer to just one
member of the set of all dogs.
In some dogs are barking/ cainii latra we refer to all the members of the
set of dogs within hearing distance.
In some dogs are not barking/unii caini nu latra we point out that in the
set of all dogs there is a number of dogs which do not bark.
“The”, “a”, some” the “zero article” in English, “niste”, “un”, “-le”, “-ii”,
“unii” in Romanian are linguistic means indicating among other things, what
proportion of the set of all dogs the speaker has in mind.
The role of the quantifiers can be explained in the following way: each
proposition is seen as a relation between a number of arguments or nominal
entities in linguistic terms. Thus, a distinction is made between individuals or
objects which have properties or enter into certain relations and the
properties they have or the relations they contract.
The binary distinction of quantifiers made in formal logic might be
successfully applied in linguistics: the “Universal Quantifier” shows that the
whole set is covered , and the “Existential quantifier” shows that at least one
member of the set is referred to. Equivalents of the universal quantifier are:
“each”, “all”, “both”, “every”, “any”. And of the existential quantifier “any”, “no”,
Linguistic approaches to quantifiers consider such linguistic entities as
belonging to different domains. If we have to look at the most updated
grammars of the English language as well as of Romanian, we can find
quantifiers among the logic-syntactic domains of articles, determiners,
partitives, nouns or numerals with the smaller difference that concerning the
Romanian language the traditional grammar books, even the most updated, do
not put great emphasis on the quantitative meaning some grammatical classes
such as indefinite articles or adjectives may convey. But it seems possible
enough to apply the same descriptive and classifying approach to the
linguistic quantitative means in all the three languages no matter how
different is the factual material and the intrinsic internal aspect of the
languages under study.
This way the parameters for the acquisition of English and Romanian
locate quantifiers as discrete entities in the following linguistic framework:
 Nouns: number,concrete, abstract, collective nouns, complex noun
 Pronouns: personal, impersonal, possessive, demonstrative, indefinite.
 Determiners: a, un/o/ niste + countable nouns the+ countable/
uncountable nouns.
 Adjectives: if size, predicative or attributive, numberlike, possessive,
demonstrative, indefinite, comparative and superlative forms.
 Adverbs: manner, frequency, degree, sequence, comparative and
superlative forms.
The category of number is an excellent quantifier by being devoid of
any mark of uncertainty. It always expresses an idea of quantification. Even
the singular number can convey a meaning of a unique multitude, if we
consider the entity as a single representative of things.
The number of morpho-semantic means of expressing quantity. As a
rule, countable nouns form this plural adding the plural inflections –s, -es
at the end of the words in English.
Pencils, houses, horses
In Romanian there are four plural endings for the nouns: -i, -le/-ele, -e,
and -uri.
The ending -i
- -i is the most frequent plural ending in Romanian
- all masculine nouns end in -i in the plural
- certain feminine and neuter nouns end in -i in the plural
- the ending -i can be added to the final consonant of a singular noun
(profesor – profesori professor), or it can replace the final vowel of a
singular noun (codru – codri forrest, perete – pereţi wall)
- phonetic mutations in the stem of the nouns that take the ending -i in
the plural are very frequent
- the ending -i is to be pronounced as follows: vowel i [i] after
consonant + r / l (codri forrests, membri members) or after vowel
(fotolii armchairs); short voiceless vowel i [
] after consonant (flori
flowers, bătrâni old men)
The ending -le/-ele
- this ending is used for feminine nouns (mostly borrowed from
Turkish), ending in stressed -a and -ea
- the variant -ele replaces the ending -ea (cafea – cafele coffee)
- the variant -le is added to the nouns ending in -a (baclava – baclavale
The endings -e and -uri
These endings seem to be the most difficult in terms of learning
Romanian as a foreign language, since they are used both for feminine and
neuter nouns. However, since neuter and feminine nouns have identical
plural forms, this should not be a problem for students: o casă – două case
house (f.) and un institut – două institute institute (n.); o marfă – două
mărfuri merchandise (f.), but un hotel – două hoteluri hotel (n.).
- the endings -e and -uri can be added to the final consonant of a noun
in the singular (bilet – bilete, tren – trenuri), or it can replace the final
vowel of a noun in the singular (persoană – persoane, teatru – teatre,
lucru – lucruri)
- phonetic mutations sometimes occur in the stems of nouns that take
the endings -e and –uri.
But when uncountable nouns take a plural form they change their
Work- works
I am a journalist. I like my work.
Eminescu’s works are known everywhere.
Other examples: painting- painting, pictura- picture.
All his paintings are sold in the street.
Isi vinde picturile in strada.
The plural form for abstract or unique nouns changes the semantics of
the initial lexical unit. Some of the incountable nouns can accept the plural
form for different purposes:
1. For indicating varieties: salt- salts, sare-saruri.
There are many different wines on the list.
Sunt multe vinuri in lista.
2. For stylistic purposes in order to underline the idea of quantity.
Sands, snows, waters, apele, nisipurile.
The sands of the deserts.
Nisipurile desertului.
Within the class of the Noun only collective nouns are interesting for
our study, since they contain the meaning of the plurality in their inner
semantic structure. Such nouns are: family, government, team mankind,
public, audience, people, in English; stol, grop, vlasa, aristocratie,
nobilime, public, omenire, dantura, in Romanian.
The crew in on the deck. Echipajul se afla pe punte.
The police has not made any arrest. Politia nu a arestat pe nimeni.
Concerning the class of articles this is the indefinite article that always
supposes the idea of number. The definite article can fulfil the grammatical
function of transforming certain adjectives into nouns representing a
collectivity in both languages: English and English:
Poor/ sarac
The poor/ saracii
In English the definite article is places before the noun or adjective, like in the
The beautiful girl, the star, the dog.
The definite article is post-positioned (enclitic) in Romanian, which is
unique among Romance languages. The definite article is attached to the noun
by addition (it can be added to the noun after its actual ending) or substitution
(it can replace the actgual ending of the noun). The noun and the definite
article form a phonetic and graphic unit:
- the article -l, [-ul], -le is attached to masculine and neuter nouns as follows:
-l is attached to those ending in -u
-ul is attached to those ending in a consonant or -i
-le is attached to those ending in -e
- the article -a [-ua] is attached to feminine nouns through addition (-a after -e,
-ua after -a, -ea, -i) or substitution (-a replaces -ă and -e)
There are several masculine nouns designating male persons that end in
-ă. These nouns take the article -a, like the feminine nouns: tată – tata, popă –
popa, etc.
The definite article -l, as well as the final -l in -ul, are often not pronounced in
the spoken language
The feminine nouns in -i designating days of the week have the
following forms with the definite article: luni – lunea, marţi – marţea,
miercuri – miercurea, vineri – vinerea, but joi – joia.
The feminine noun cacao cocoa takes the definite article as follows : cacao –
The adjectives of quantity (Q-adjectives) many, few, much and little
stand out from other quantity expressions on account of their syntactic
exibility, occurring in positions that could be called quanticational (many
students attended), predicative (John's friends were many), attributive (the
many students), di erential (much more than a liter ) and adverbial (slept too
much). This broad distribution poses a challenge for the two leading theories
of this class, which treat them as either quantifying determiners or predicates
over individuals.
Numeral adjectives determine the nouns attributively or predicatively
and the pronouns predicatively , from an exact numerical point of view: four
weeks, a hundred pounds, patru saptamini, zece lei.
Indefinite adjectives can also determine general or vague quality of the
things denoted by nouns. They specify aspects of time, quantity, number, and
variety. The indefinite adjectives can express an amount of things: much,
little, a little, a deal of, a good/great deal of; mult, putin. Indefinite articles
can refer to a number of things : many, few, a few, several, numerous, un
numar de, o serie de, etc.
From all the parts of speech, the adjective and adverb possess the biggest
diversity of combinatory possibilities, in both languages under study. They
can qualify all the initial parts of speech, but this is the noun, which has the
privilege to have a larger number of quantifiers and enter the largest number
of quantitative patterns.

State University “Alecu Russo” from Balti
Chair of English Filology

Report in Typology
“Expressing Quantity in English and

Student: Estera Morar
Group: EG-41
Teacher: Ignatiuc I.

Balti, 2014

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