[Lingtyp] Lexical nominalisation of property concepts

Tianqiao Lu lutianqiao at maonan.org
Sat Jun 11 09:50:31 UTC 2016

Dear Luigi,

The question you raise might also involve one of the processes of "noun categorization" found in many Tai-Kadai languages in Southeast Asia. In such a process, a class term or a classifier is attached to an adjective or a verb, functioning as a "de-adjectival nominalizer" or a de-verbalizer. For example, the class term ki- in Zhuang, a language spoken in southwest China by around 15 million speakers,  is attached to an adjective or a verb as a nominalizer: 
ki-ˀi (class term-small) "small thing(s)", 
ki-hung (class term-big) "big thing(s)",  
ki-hoeng (class term-red) "red thing(s)", 
ki-dam (class term-black) "black thing(s)",
ki-kɯn (class term-eat) "edible thing(s)" 
ki-ˀjaɯ (class term-look) "thing(s) for reading ", etc. 

The element ki- can't occur independently in a phrase or a clause. 

Many classifiers denoting human, animal, plant, etc., can be used in the same way. For example, pu- in Zhuang: pu-hung (human classifier-big) "adult(s)", pu-ˀi (human classifier-small) "small child(ren)"; phuu- in Thai: phuu-chaay ((human class term - male) "male person(s)", phuu-ying (human class term - female) "male person(s)", phuu-yay (human class term - big) "adult(s)", among others.


Mike Tianqiao Lu
School of Linguistic Sciences
Jiangsu Normal University
Xuzhou, China
------------------ Original ------------------
From:  "Luigi Talamo"<luigi.talamo at unibg.it>;
Date:  Thu, Jun 9, 2016 09:14 PM
To:  "Lingtyp"<Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>; 

Subject:  [Lingtyp] Lexical nominalisation of property concepts

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.


PhD Program in Linguistics ('Scienze Linguistiche')
University of Bergamo and University of Pavia - Italy
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