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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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2 Generative approaches to nominalization 17


2 Generative approaches to nominalization Nominalizations have been a matter of debate since the late 1950’s, in particular within the syntactic framework of transformational- generative grammar (see Chomsky, 1957, and Lees, 1960). The focus of most theoretical studies has been on the morphosyntactic properties of nominalizations rather than on their interpretive features. Since ANs exhibit a hybrid nature from the categorial viewpoint, scholars have especially attempted to capture the verbal properties of ANs and have accounted for such challenging features along the lines of con- trasting analyses. Only a short overview of selected and representative works is presented in this chapter. In particular, Grimshaw’s and Borer’s pro- posals are outlined in some detail. Grimshaw’s approach is crucial for its individuation of distinctive properties of E (corresponding to her complex event) nominals; further, some elements of her lexicalist solu- tion will be useful for the present discussion of nominals. Borer’s a- nalysis, framed in a syntactic approach to word formation, is also re- vealing, because it captures the verbal properties of nominals attribut- ing to the base verb the source of eventivity and, thus, of argument structure. This is also an insight that drives the spirit of the proposal to be illustrated in the present study. However, because the main goal of this research is to specify the lexical semantic properties of nominalizations, I shall outline some se- lected theoretical accounts of nominalizations that focus on the inter- pretation of nominalizations and take the presence of syntactic satel- lites as a...

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