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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Rajesh Bhatt

Second Advisor

Vincent Homer

Third Advisor

Seth C. Cable

Fourth Advisor

Barbara H. Partee

Subject Categories

Semantics and Pragmatics | Syntax


This dissertation provides a novel analysis of Amount Relatives (Carlson 1977, Heim 1987, Grosu & Landman 1998, Herdan 2008, Meier 2015, a.o). Amount Relatives are a form of non-intersective relative clause that is usually associated with amount interpretations . For example, the sentence it will take us the rest of our lives to drink the champagne they spilled that evening is most naturally interpreted as referring to an amount of champagne, and not any particular champagne. Previous accounts of Amount Relatives have converged in appealing to degree semantics in order to extract an amount from the relative clause, suggesting that the embedded CP denotes a property of degrees.

This dissertation advocates a more nuanced view of Amount Relatives across languages. I propose that natural languages allow two different strategies for deriving amount interpretations of relative clauses: a degree-based strategy and a degree-less strategy, where degree semantics does not come into play at all. It is argued that while some languages employ both strategies, as is the case with Spanish, languages like English only have the degree-less strategy, contra much of the previous literature. Evidence for this division comes from the fact that Amount Relatives in Spanish, but not English, pass independently-motivated diagnostics of degree-related operations (e.g. degree-quantification and degree-abstraction).

In the first part of the dissertation, I propose a novel means of arriving at amount interpretations for relative clauses in languages like English, which lack the degree-based strategy to derive such meanings. The account exploits the correlation between kind and amount readings of relative clauses in English, first noted by Carlson 1977. Amount Relatives in English will be argued to be a sub-case of kind-referring relative clauses and an analysis that derives amounts from (sub)kinds is presented.

The second, more sizable portion of the dissertation examines Amount Relatives in Spanish, which can be shown to make use of a degree-based strategy for deriving amount readings, as they do show all the hallmarks of degree constructions. Moreover, the language allows amount interpretations more readily, in more environments and with more diverse forms than languages like English. I will provide a compositional analysis of Spanish Amount Relatives in their various forms, with the goal of understanding (i) what syntactic and semantic pieces are implicated in extracting an amount from a relative clause structure and (ii) how different permutations of these pieces could result in semantic variation within and across languages.