[Lingtyp] Lexical nominalisation of property concepts

David Gil gil at shh.mpg.de
Mon Jun 13 06:24:40 EDT 2016


Randy,

Thanks for your comments.  Two points:

With regard to whether Mandarin /de/ is a separate word or not, your 
criticism is well-taken; my only defense is that that is the way it is 
usually characterized, and that in a typological survey of this scope, 
there is no other way of doing things other than to rely on extant 
descriptions.  Except perhaps to sidestep the issue of wordhood 
altogether and simply collapse "affix" and "separate word" into a single 
type, which, I suspect, is what would do now if I were doing the chapter 
all over again.

But I really don't see your point when you write: "I still don’t see 
what lumping together language forms that aren’t similar into categories 
that make them look similar does for us."  Surely this is the only way 
for rational inquiry into language (or any other phenomenological 
domain) to proceed.  "Similar" and "not similar" aren't binary holistic 
choices, they only have meaning in the context of particular criteria or 
properties.  We observe two entities, call them A and B, and then say 
Hey, A and B are alike *with respect to* property X.  The value of 
saying this depends on how trivial or insightful the property X turns 
out to be, ie. what further understandings X leads us towards.  But 
crucially, the value of X is not negated by pointing to properties Y, Z, 
W, V etc, with respect to which A and B differ.  The existence of such 
properties with respect to which A and B differ is totally irrelevant to 
the value of property X, they do not impinge on it in any way.

You ask "what has lumping Mandarin and English together in this context 
taught us about the languages?".  Well one of the things I've always 
been interested in is cross-linguistic variation with respect to 
parts-of-speech inventories.  The present WALS map addresses the issue 
of whether a language distinguishes between adjectives and nouns.  
(Note: I'm saying "addresses", not "answers".)  Specifically, if a 
language, like English or Mandarin, needs to add a grammatical marker to 
an adjective in order to give it the distributional properties of a 
noun, then this provides good reason to suspect that in such languages, 
adjectives and nouns constitute different word classes, defined 
distributionally. Whereas if a language, like Italian or Hebrew, doesn't 
need to make use of such a marker, then perhaps it doesn't distinguish 
between adjectives and nouns (as indeed is suggested by the traditional 
term "substantives" that groups the two classes together), though 
alternatively it could be the case that the language in question does 
distinguish between adjectives and nouns using other criteria.

So all this is relevant to English and Mandarin, regardless of the 
myriad other important differences between English /one/ and Mandarin /de.

/Best,

David



On 13/06/2016 17:44, Randy John LaPolla (Prof) wrote:
> Hi David,
> Thanks for your reply. The crux may be the definition of Mandarin /de/ 
> as a word (you don’t specify phonological word or grammatical word, 
> but since you treat clitics—grammatical words that aren’t phonological 
> words—differently, I am assuming you mean phonological word). It 
> cannot appear on its own, and when added to another word, like /hong/, 
> they are pronounced together, so it patterns like a clitic, and so is 
> unlike English /one/ in that way as well (people are often thrown off 
> by the fact that in Chinese each character is written separately, but 
> that doesn’t mean each character is a phonological word).
>
> And although I don’t want to start the whole debate we had in January 
> again, I still don’t see what lumping together language forms that 
> aren’t similar into categories that make them look similar does for 
> us. Although I can see the practical difficulties of taking the actual 
> facts of all the languages seriously, very concretely, what has 
> lumping Mandarin and English together in this context taught us about 
> the languages?
>
> Thanks very much.
>
> All the best,
> Randy
>
>
>> On 12 Jun 2016, at 1:36 pm, David Gil <gil at shh.mpg.de 
>> <mailto:gil at shh.mpg.de>> wrote:
>>
>> Randy,
>>
>> Yes, my chapter in WALS characterizes the English and Mandarin 
>> constructions as "of the same type structurally", and yes, the two 
>> constructions are different from each other in precisely the ways 
>> that you describe!
>>
>> That's what typology does: dividing things into classes according to 
>> one set of criteria, thereby putting in to the same class things that 
>> are very different according to other sets of criteria.  And that's 
>> precisely what has happened here.  My WALS chapter asks whether an 
>> adjective can occur on its own as a noun, without any further 
>> morphosyntactic marking and the answer for both English and Mandarin 
>> is the same: no.  It then further asks, for languages that require 
>> such morphosyntactic marking, what the formal properties of the 
>> marking is, distinguishing between affixes and separate words, and 
>> between forms that occur before and after their host adjective.  And 
>> once again, Mandarin and English come out the same, with a separate 
>> word that occurs after its host adjective.  That's all the WALS 
>> chapter purports to say.
>>
>> Now clearly many constructions in different languages with the same 
>> WALS feature values will differ from each other in myriad other ways, 
>> as is the case for English and Mandarin here.  You may feel that the 
>> typology proposed in the "Adjectives without Nouns" WALS map 
>> overlooks what's "most important" about the constructions in 
>> question, and you could indeed be right about that.  I suspect, 
>> however, that an alternative "Adjective without Nouns" map 
>> distinguishing between "English and Mandarin types" on the basis of 
>> headedness would have been impractical to produce, since it is too 
>> theory dependent, and hence it would not have been possible to glean 
>> the necessary information from available grammatical descriptions of 
>> a sufficiently large sample of languages.  (In fact, while I agree 
>> entirely with your description of the difference between English and 
>> Mandarin, I bet that there are even grammatical descriptions of 
>> English and Mandarin out there that would see things differently.)
>>
>> I hope this clarifies matters ...
>>
>> David
>>
>>
>> On 12/06/2016 08:20, Randy John LaPolla (Prof) wrote:
>>> Hi David,
>>> It seems from your message here and from your chapter in WALS that 
>>> the English construction with /one/ and the Chinese construction 
>>> with /de /are of the same type structurally. I don’t know if I have 
>>> read you right, but although they are made up of the word 
>>> representing a property concept followed by another word, the two 
>>> constructions are quite different (and the natures of all of the 
>>> words involved are different as well). In the relevant use of 
>>> English /one/, it is a pro-form (see Goldberg, Adele E. & Laura A. 
>>> Michaelis. 2016. One among many: anaphoric /one/ and its 
>>> relationship to numeral /one/. /Cognitive Science/ 40.4:1–26. DOI: 
>>> 10.1111/cogs.12339  for interesting discussion) and clearly the head 
>>> of the phrase, but in the Chinese example /de/ is only a nominalizer 
>>> and clearly not the head of the phrase, either in terms of 
>>> structural behaviour (e.g. in English /one/ patterns like other 
>>> heads, e.g. we can say “this one”, but this is not the case with 
>>> Chinese /de/) or in terms of speakers’ “feel” for what is the core 
>>> element of the phrase.
>>>
>>> This sort of goes back to the discussion on categorization we had 
>>> back in January.
>>>
>>> All the best,
>>> Randy
>>> -----
>>> *Prof. Randy J. LaPolla, PhD FAHA* (羅仁地)| Division of 
>>> Linguistics and Multilingual Studies | Nanyang Technological University
>>> HSS-03-45, 14 Nanyang Drive, Singapore 637332 | Tel: (65) 6592-1825 
>>> GMT+8h | Fax: (65) 6795-6525 | http://randylapolla.net/ 
>>> <http://randylapolla.net/>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>> On 11 Jun 2016, at 3:33 pm, David Gil <gil at shh.mpg.de> wrote:
>>>>
>>>> Luigi,
>>>>
>>>> Unlike many of my typologist colleagues who seek refuge from the 
>>>> muddy waters of formal criteria in the supposed clarity of 
>>>> semantics, I find semantic criteria to often be just as 
>>>> problematical, if not more so, than their formal counterparts.
>>>>
>>>> For the purposes of my WALS map, I did not use headedness as a 
>>>> defining criteria, and I would not wish to take a stand on the 
>>>> headedness in the examples that you discuss.  By "adjective" I 
>>>> meant property-denoting word one of whose typical functions is as 
>>>> an attribute of a noun, and by "noun" I meant thing-denoting word.  
>>>> The map shows the morphosyntactic strategies that a language uses 
>>>> to allow an adjective to occur in a noun slot — typically, but not 
>>>> criterially, heading a phrase that occurs in an argument position.  
>>>> This definition is met, among others, by the /one/ in English 
>>>> /beautiful one/, the /de/ in Mandarin /hong de/, and also by the 
>>>> lack of (dedicated adjective-to-noun conversion) marking in the 
>>>> Italian /il bello/.
>>>>
>>>> Best,
>>>>
>>>> David
>>>>
>>>> On 10/06/2016 23:01, Luigi Talamo wrote:
>>>>> Dear all,
>>>>> thanks a lot for your all answers, I really appreciate that.
>>>>> I have found your data very interesting, many comments will follow :-)
>>>>> I begin below with David's answer.
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>     One of the two kinds of nominalization mentioned in the query
>>>>>     ('beautiful' > 'beautiful one') is the subject of my WALS map
>>>>>     #61 "Adjectives without Nouns".
>>>>>
>>>>>     David
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> Thanks David, I have read your WALS map at the beginning of my 
>>>>> work; maybe you remember that we have exchanged a couple of 
>>>>> e-mails some time ago. As you mention in the WALS article, the 
>>>>> most important issue here is whether adjectives are syntactic 
>>>>> heads in constructions such as 'the white one', which translates 
>>>>> in Italian as 'quello bianco'. As you probably noticed, I did not 
>>>>> consider these constructions in my study, as they appear to me to 
>>>>> be more 'predicative' than 'referential', at least in Italian; 
>>>>> moreover, the syntactic head of the Italian construction is most 
>>>>> likely the deictic quello 'this'. But what about the Mandarin 
>>>>> example that is reported in your map, Wǒ yào hóng de. ? Is hóng a 
>>>>> property concept with referential function ?
>>>>>
>>>>> Thanks
>>>>>
>>>>> Luigi
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>     On 09/06/2016 21:14, Luigi Talamo wrote:
>>>>>>     Dear all,
>>>>>>     I am conducting a research on the lexical nominalisation of
>>>>>>     property concepts in contemporary Italian. My study involves
>>>>>>     two types of nominalisation strategy, affixation such as
>>>>>>     bello `beautiful' -> bell-ezza `beauty (abstract concept)'
>>>>>>     and zero-marking ('conversion'), such as bello (adj) -> `(il)
>>>>>>     bello' -> `the beautiful person', `beauty (abstract concept)'
>>>>>>     and `what is beautiful about something'.
>>>>>>     Drawing mostly from 'Leipzig Questionnaire On Nominalisation
>>>>>>     and mixed Categories' (Malchukov et alii (2008)) and studies
>>>>>>     on adjectival and mixed categories, I have elaborated a
>>>>>>     series of morpho-syntactic and semantic parameters, which I
>>>>>>     have employed to study de-adjectival nominalizations in
>>>>>>     actual, corpus-based contexts.
>>>>>>     I would like to insert in my study some cross-linguistic
>>>>>>     notes on the phenomenon, which I hope to further study from a
>>>>>>     typological perspective. I will be glad if you can provide me
>>>>>>     some examples from your languages of expertise. I have found
>>>>>>     some examples of de-adjectival nominalizations here and there
>>>>>>     in grammars, but I was not able to exactly figure out which
>>>>>>     are the parameters involved; moreover, some recent works
>>>>>>     (among others, Roy (2010), Alexiadou et alii (2010),
>>>>>>     Alexiadou & Iordachioaia (2014)) give interesting insights on
>>>>>>     de-adjectival nominalization, but examples are limited to
>>>>>>     European languages.
>>>>>>
>>>>>>     I am particularly interested in non-European languages
>>>>>>     showing a distinct class of adjectives; morpho-syntatic
>>>>>>     parameters include case, number, gender, definiteness and
>>>>>>     specificity, degree, external argument structure and,
>>>>>>     possibly, verbal parameters, which are however not very
>>>>>>     significant for Italian de-adjectival nominalisation;
>>>>>>     semantic parameters include referent animacy, the distinction
>>>>>>     between the nominalisation of the adjectival 'argument' vs.
>>>>>>     the nominalisation of the adjective itself e.g., softie `a
>>>>>>     thing which is soft' vs. softness and the semantic type of
>>>>>>     property concepts e.g., PHYSICAL PROPERTY or HUMAN PROPENSITY.
>>>>>>
>>>>>>     So, possible questions are as following:
>>>>>>     1. Can property concepts be turned into nouns?
>>>>>>     2. Which strategies are employed for this purpose?
>>>>>>     3. Which parameters do de-adjectival nouns display?
>>>>>>     4. Are there any missing values for a given parameter? For
>>>>>>     instance, de-adjectival nouns can be only singular or
>>>>>>     definite or restricted to the subject position.
>>>>>>     5. Are de-adjectival nouns found in both semantic types of
>>>>>>     nominalization? For instance, I have observed that European
>>>>>>     languages focus on the nominalisation of the adjective
>>>>>>     itself, while argument nominalizations are scarcely attested,
>>>>>>     limited to certain language varieties and not stable in the
>>>>>>     lexicon.
>>>>>>
>>>>>>     (needless to say, questions 2 to 4 can have multiple answers,
>>>>>>     helping to describe different patterns of property
>>>>>>     nominalisation)
>>>>>>
>>>>>>     Thanks in advance for your help, all the best.
>>>>>>
>>>>>>     Luigi
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>     -- 
>>>>>>     PhD Program in Linguistics ('Scienze Linguistiche')
>>>>>>     University of Bergamo and University of Pavia - Italy
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>     _______________________________________________
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>>>>>>     http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp
>>>>>
>>>>>     -- 
>>>>>     David Gil
>>>>>
>>>>>     Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution
>>>>>     Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
>>>>>     Kahlaische Strasse 10, 07745 Jena, Germany
>>>>>
>>>>>     Email:gil at shh.mpg.de <mailto:gil at shh.mpg.de>
>>>>>     Office Phone (Germany):+49-3641686834 <tel:%2B49-3641686834>
>>>>>     Mobile Phone (Indonesia):+62-82238009215 <tel:%2B62-82238009215>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>     _______________________________________________
>>>>>     Lingtyp mailing list
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>>>>>     http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> -- 
>>>>> PhD Program in Linguistics ('Scienze Linguistiche')
>>>>> University of Bergamo and University of Pavia - Italy
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>> Lingtyp mailing list
>>>>> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
>>>>> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp
>>>>
>>>> -- 
>>>> David Gil
>>>>
>>>> Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution
>>>> Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
>>>> Kahlaische Strasse 10, 07745 Jena, Germany
>>>>
>>>> Email:gil at shh.mpg.de
>>>> Office Phone (Germany): +49-3641686834
>>>> Mobile Phone (Indonesia): +62-82238009215
>>>>
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>>
>> -- 
>> David Gil
>>
>> Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution
>> Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
>> Kahlaische Strasse 10, 07745 Jena, Germany
>>
>> Email:gil at shh.mpg.de
>> Office Phone (Germany): +49-3641686834
>> Mobile Phone (Indonesia): +62-82238009215
>>
>

-- 
David Gil

Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
Kahlaische Strasse 10, 07745 Jena, Germany

Email: gil at shh.mpg.de
Office Phone (Germany): +49-3641686834
Mobile Phone (Indonesia): +62-82238009215

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