[Lingtyp] Lexical nominalisation of property concepts

David Gil gil at shh.mpg.de
Fri Jun 24 23:17:22 EDT 2016


Randy,

Thanks for the very nice presentation of textual examples involving the 
various combinations of /de/ with the word for 'red'.  Of the examples 
that you cite, it is (2) which constitutes an apparent counterexample to 
my WALS-map classification of Mandarin as requiring a marker in order 
for a property-denoting word to occur in argument position.  Note, 
however, that in the given context, a similar construction is possible 
also for English: you could perhaps have translated (2) as 'See red 
before giving birth'.  Given the existence of constructions such as the 
latter translation, some have questioned my characterization of English 
in the same WALS map, arguing that adjectives can indeed occur in 
unmarked form in argument position in English too.  This is the 
typologist's predicament, and why typologists often get as much flack as 
they do from language specialists.  Sure, constructions such as these 
occur in English, however, they are significantly more constrained than 
in a language such as Italian, Hebrew, or Malay, in which they occur 
much more freely.  To do typology, you need to posit arbitrary cut-off 
points, and for better or worse, I chose to classify languages which 
allow unmarked adjectives to occur in limited contexts such as English 
as belonging to the same type as languages which do not allow them at 
all, rather than as belonging to the same type as languages that allow 
them freely.  In large part this was for practical reasons; I felt more 
confident in my ability to get the facts right using this cut-off point 
than the alternative one. And indeed, your data from Mandarin vindicate 
my decision.  My Mandarin data was based on elicitation, and perhaps 
because I am not an expert in Mandarin, I did not encounter, and hence 
was not aware of, constructions such as that in (2).  Now if I had 
chosen a simple yes/no cut-off point, I would now, on the basis of your 
comments, have to amend my classification of Mandarin, and, much worse, 
I would be increasingly suspicious of my classification of many other 
languages in the sample.  However, given that my Mandarin consultants 
consistently rejected the examples that I offered them of unmarked 
property words in argument position, I remain confident that my 
classification of Mandarin in the WALS map is the correct one.

Best,

David

On 23/06/2016 16:55, Randy John LaPolla (Prof) wrote:
> Hi David,
> Sorry to take so long to get back you.
>
> Yes, it is fine to "observe two entities, call them A and B, and then 
> say Hey, A and B are alike *with respect to* property X”, but my 
> argument was that they are not alike in terms of property X.
>
> In terms of what you said about word classes, /de/ is not required in 
> Mandarin for an adjective (stative verb) or any other verb to be used 
> as a referential phrase; as I argued in my paper arguing for a 
> constructionalist approach to Chinese,* it is simply a matter of where 
> it appears in the construction. In the case of adjectives, there is a 
> difference in the use or not of /de/ with the adjective: without it it 
> would probably be more often used to refer to the quality as an 
> entity, but with it it would probably be used to refer to an object 
> with that quality. Below are five natural examples are each type. In 1 
> we have it without /de,/ used to refer to a type of red. In 2, also 
> without de, it refers to a red object, blood. In 3 it is used with de 
> as a headless relative clause, referring to the hands. In 4, with de, 
> it refers to the quality of being red. In 5, with de, it refers to the 
> red ring of skin, which might also be seen as a headless relative.
>
> 1 中国红到底是什么红?http://daxianggonghui.baijia.baidu.com/article/49119
> Zhongguo hong daodi shi shenme hong
> China  red   afterall cop what red
> ‘So what is China red?'
>
> 2 产前见红 http://www.yaolan.com/zhishi/chanqianjianhong/
> chan qian jian hong
> give.birth before see red
> ‘See blood before giving birth’
>
>
>       3 白的雪,青的葱,红红的是她的小手
>       http://tiku.21cnjy.com/quest/gzN2U__QMT4O.html
>
>
> bai-de xue, qing-de cong, hong-hong-de shi ta-de xiaoshou
> white-de snow, green-de scallion, red-red-de cop 3sg-de small-hand
> ‘White snow, green scallions, the red one is her small hand’
>
>
>         4 关羽脸为什 么是红的?http://iask.sina.com.cn/b/10634327.html
>
> Guan Yu lian weishenme shi hong-de
> PN     face why           cop red-de
> ‘Why is Guan Yu’s face red?'
>
> 5宝宝嘴巴周围一圈红红的是怎么回事? 
> http://www.babytree.com/ask/detail/42954
> Baobao zuiba zhouwei yi-quan hong-hong-de shi zenme hui shi?
> baby     mouth around  one-ring red-red-de     cop how    CL thing
> ‘What is the deal with the ring of redness around the baby’s mouth?’
>
> *LaPolla, Randy J. 2013. "Arguments for a construction-based approach 
> to the analysis of Chinese". In /Human Language Resources and 
> Linguistic Typology/, Papers from the Fourth International Conference 
> on Sinology, edited by Tseng Chiu-yu, 33-57. Taiwan: Academia Sinica.
> http://randylapolla.net/papers/LaPolla_2013_Arguments_for_a_construction-based_approach_to_the_analysis_of_Chinese.pdf
>
> So for me there are no global word classes; we need to look at the 
> propositional functions of the elements in the particular 
> constructions in which they appear.
>
> All the best,
> Randy
>
>
>> On 13 Jun 2016, at 6:24 pm, David Gil <gil at shh.mpg.de> wrote:
>>
>> 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> 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
>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>     _______________________________________________
>>>>>>>>     Lingtyp mailing list
>>>>>>>>     Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
>>>>>>>>     <mailto: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 <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
>>>>>>>     Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
>>>>>>>     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
>>>>>>
>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>> Lingtyp mailing list
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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
>>
>

-- 
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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