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Event and Result Nominals

A Morpho-semantic Approach

Chiara Melloni

The syntax and semantics of deverbal action nominals, notoriously ambiguous between event and result interpretation, have been a thought-provoking issue in many areas of theoretical linguistics. This volume contributes to current work on this topic by showing how the analysis of these nouns can benefit from a morphological and lexical-semantic treatment.
While being a revealing synthesis of a number of formal accounts on this popular research domain, this study specifically targets the largely unexplored area of result nouns and addresses several crucial issues. What are result nouns in a strictly lexical-semantic perspective? Why do some verb classes allow ambiguous event/result nominal correlates, while others do not? What are the relevant verbal features involved in result noun formation? Is there a range of predictability in the number and types of meaning conveyed by a derived nominal?
Couched within a framework of decompositional lexical semantic, the analysis offers original formal solutions to the polysemy issues arising in this word formation domain and convincingly argues in favor of the semantic alignment between the morphologically simplex and complex lexicon. A compelling range of Italian data provides empirical support to the author’s claims.


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1 Aims and orientation 1


1 Aims and orientation In this research, I survey a significant pattern of deverbal word- formation in Italian, and integrate the data analysis into a recently de- veloped theoretical model of derivational semantics. In particular, the main goal of this study is to analyze the range of semantic interpreta- tions and the corresponding morpho-syntactic behavior displayed by the class of deverbal nouns usually acknowledged as “action nomi- nals” (henceforth, ANs). While Chapter 2 contains an overview of the relevant literature on the subject in the generative tradition, the body of this book is com- posed of Chapters 3 to 5, where I work out a theoretical proposal aimed at accounting for the lexical meaning of a range of deverbal nominals in a framework of decompositional lexical semantics. Spe- cifically, this research, which is placed against the theoretical back- ground of generative morphology, rests on groundwork laid over the last fifteen years by Lieber and Baayen (1997; 1999), Lieber (2003), Booij and Lieber (2004) and, in a more comprehensive version, by Lieber (2004). The present chapter introduces the reader to the phenomenon of nominalization, offers an overview of the subject to be discussed and of the theoretical background, and finally sketches out the outline of the book. 1.1 Stating the problem 1.1.1 Action/State Nominals Nominalizations are nominal structures that are derived from other syntactic categories, especially from verbs. Several types of deverbal 2 nominals have been distinguished and explored in the linguistic litera- ture: for instance, “agent” and “instrument nouns” (e.g....

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