part of speech correlation

Masayoshi SHIBATANI matt at KOBE-U.AC.JP
Wed May 19 23:42:53 UTC 1999

Hi Everybody!

   My student and I are looking for possible correlations between parts
of speech system and grammatical constructions and syntactic phenomena.

   There are languages, like Chinese and Japanese and a lot others,
which group verbs and adjectives together, isolating nouns from this
grouping. On the other hand, Latin and English and others, group nouns
and adjectives together, isolating verbs from this grouping.
   Our questions is if there are any grammatical correlations of this.
We are entertaining a hypothesis that we may be able to identify
languages being either noun-prominent or verb-prominent. The former
'elaborates' noun phrases, or their referential function, such that   we
may expect them to have a distinct topic marker/construction,   double
subject constructions, where a NP is predicated over by a clausal
predicate, valence-increasing passives, and perhaps tendency toward
dependent-marking, all of which, we expect, would be less favored among
verb-prominent languages, which, we assume, emphasize the predicational
function of the verb.
   Are we dead-wrong?  Help!

Matt Shibatani

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