[Lingtyp] Lexical nominalisation of property concepts
gil at shh.mpg.de
Sun Jun 12 05:36:49 UTC 2016
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
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
I hope this clarifies matters ...
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,
> *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/
>> On 11 Jun 2016, at 3:33 pm, David Gil <gil at shh.mpg.de
>> <mailto:gil at shh.mpg.de>> wrote:
>> 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/.
>> 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".
>>> 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 ?
>>> 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
>>>> 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.
>>>> 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>
>>> 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
>>> <mailto:Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>
>>> PhD Program in Linguistics ('Scienze Linguistiche')
>>> University of Bergamo and University of Pavia - Italy
>>> Lingtyp mailing list
>>> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
>> 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
>> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
>> <mailto:Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>
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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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