[Lingtyp] metaphor theory / cognitive grammar explanations for verb and noun argument symmetries

David Gil gil at shh.mpg.de
Sat Mar 19 12:03:17 UTC 2022


The synchronic semantic analysis that I have proposed for Riau 
Indonesian (Gil 2005, 2017, elsewhere), making reference to a dyadic 
Association Operator A (X,Y), meets your requirement of a unified 
analysis for agents and possessors; however, it overgeneralizes in that 
it also allows for a variety of other possible interpretations.Consider 
the following examples:




'the chicken's leg'

[but also other possible interpretations]




'the chicken is eating'

[but also other possible interpretations]

In (1), A ( LEG, CHICKEN ) means 'something to do with leg and chicken', 
while in (2) A ( EAT, CHICKEN ) means 'something to do with eat and 
chicken'.As suggested by the proposed translations ('the chicken's leg', 
'the chicken is eating'), the Association Operator allows for both 
possessor and agent interpretations.However, it overgenerates, allowing 
also for various other possible interpretations involving other thematic 
roles — as indeed are available for such expressions in Riau Indonesian.

I would suggest that an adequate representation of the connection 
between possessors and agents (in languages that call for it) should be 
two-tiered, consisting of (a) application of the Association Operator as 
in (1) and (2) above; supplemented by (b) further more specific 
representations that hone in specifically on the analogy between 
possessors and agents.

Gil, David (2005) "Word Order Without Syntactic Categories: How Riau 
Indonesian Does It", in A. Carnie, H. Harley and S.A. Dooley eds., /Verb 
First: On the Syntax of Verb-Initial Languages/, John Benjamins, 
Amsterdam, 243-263.

Gil, David (2017) "Isolating-Monocategorial-Associational Language", in 
H. Cohen and C. Lefebvre eds, Handbook of Categorization in Cognitive 
Science, Second Edition, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 471-510.


On 19/03/2022 13:28, Adam James Ross Tallman wrote:
> Hello all,
> I thought there must be sources on this - but I haven't really found 
> anything specific. I'm looking for sources that discuss potential 
> semantic links between possessors in the nominal domain and agents (A 
> subjects) in the verbal domain. Or just semantic explanations for 
> structural homologies between noun and verb structure in general.
> I am aware of diachronic works that discuss the development of verbal 
> alignment systems from (clausal) nominalizations. For instance, 
> Gildea's work /On Reconstructing Grammar /gives a good explanation as 
> to why we might find structural similarities between nouns and verbs 
> for diachronic reasons (today's verbal structures were reanalyzed from 
> a nominalized structure).
> Generative works, at least dating back to Chomsky's /Remarks, /explain 
> structural homologies between noun and verb structure based on 
> abstract formal schema (like X' theory).
> But, I was wondering if there were works in cognitive grammar or 
> metaphor theory that have attempted to give a more synchronic 
> explanation for potential symmetries between noun and verb phrase 
> structure, based on the idea that noun and verb structures might have 
> some common schematic form - or based on the idea that there is some 
> metaphorical mapping between referential and event (verby) domains.
> The idea would be that somehow possessors in the nominal (referential) 
> domain are at some abstract level like agents in the verbal 
> (event/situation?) domain (and perhaps analogies with other arguments 
> could be made, but those seem less obvious). Maybe there's nothing 
> like this, but I assumed that there must be, given discussions of 
> "transcategoriality" in the literature. Any leads would be appreciated.
> best,
> Adam
> -- 
> Adam J.R. Tallman
> Post-doctoral Researcher
> Friedrich Schiller Universität
> Department of English Studies
> _______________________________________________
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> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
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David Gil

Senior Scientist (Associate)
Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6, Leipzig, 04103, Germany

Email:gil at shh.mpg.de
Mobile Phone (Israel): +972-526117713
Mobile Phone (Indonesia): +62-81344082091
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