Non-canonical uses of some

Curt Anderson, Düsseldorf


The English determiner some is used to express indifference or ignorance as to the particular individual that satisfies some claim, as in the examples in (1). Examples such as these form the core use cases of some.

(1) a. I’ve been stung by some wasp.
b. Some professor is dancing on the table, but I don’t know who.

However, some can be used in other ways as well. In this talk, I examine two additional uses, what I call the numeral modifier some and exclamative-some, as in the examples in (2) and (3).

(2) There were twenty-some people at the party.
(3) a. She is some dancer!
b. Some lawyer he is!

Paralleling the canonical cases of some, the numerical modifier some also commits the speaker to being in a state of ignorance or indifference, in particular about which number satisfies a claim. On the other hand, some-exclamatives express surprise or amazement that the subject of the exclamative holds the property denoted by the NP complement of some. I use tools from Alternative Semantics to provide analyses of the non-canonical cases in (2) and (3), and argue that some has a common core across its varied uses.