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Towards a Theory of Denominals

A Look at Incorporation, Phrasal Spell-Out and Spanning

Series:

Adina Camelia Bleotu

In Towards a Theory of Denominals, Adina Camelia Bleotu takes a comparative look at denominal verbs in English and Romanian from various theoretical frameworks such as lexical decomposition, distributed morphology, nanosyntax and spanning. The book proposes a novel spanning analysis, arguing for its explanatory superiority to incorporation/conflation or nanosyntax in accounting for the formation and behaviour of denominals. It provides useful empirical insights, drawing from rich data from English discussed widely in the relevant literature, but also presenting novel data from Romanian not explored in detail before. Many interesting theoretical issues are also discussed, such as the (lack of) correlation between the (un)boundedness of the nominal root and the (a)telicity of the resulting verb, the verb/ satellite-framed distinction and others.

Series:

Adina Camelia Bleotu

Abstract

I present various accounts of denominal verbs: syntactic approaches such as Hale & Keyser (1993, 2002)’s lexical syntax, Mateu’s (2002) semantico-syntactic approach or Ramchand’s (2008) first-phase syntax, as well as morphological approaches such as distributed morphology (Morris & Marantz 1993, 1994, Marantz 1997, Morris 1997) or nanosyntax (Starke 2009, Pantcheva 2011). I focus on the most important concepts in each theory (e.g. incorporation/ conflation for l-syntax, fusion for DM, phrasal spell-out for nanosyntax, to name just a few), trying to explain how recourse to such theoretical tools helps account for denominal verb formation and behaviour, but also what problems it generates.

Series:

Adina Camelia Bleotu

Abstract

In Chapter 4, I present spanning, a version of Distributed Morphology where Spell-Out recognizes spans rather than terminal nodes like DM does or phrasal nodes like nanosyntax does. Some of the main tenets underlying spanning are: the definition of spans as complement sequence of heads in a single extended projection (Svenonius 2012, 2014, 2016), the idea of elimination of redundant labels (using X both for X0 and XP) and Brody’s (2000) Mirror Theory and direct linearization mechanism. I put forth a spanning account of denominal verbs couched in first-phase syntax (Ramchand 2008). I put forth a spanning derivation for the verbs dance, corral with or without silent items, storing both the noun and the verb or only the noun (and the verbalizer, if it is the case), discussing the advantages and disadvantages in either case and possible extensions to verbs in Romanian. I conclude that the most elegant and crosslinguistically adequate solution is a spanning account with no silent items in the internal make-up of the denominal, where the noun and the verbalizer (but not the verb) are stored.

Series:

Adina Camelia Bleotu

Abstract

In Chapter 5, I try to account for verbs incorporating Themes, verbs seemingly incorporating Agents, and weather verbs both in English and Romanian. The basic insights of this endeavor are that:(i) Theme incorporation may depend on lexico-pragmatic factors, such as how predictable the canonical action is (??to apple may involve picking, eating, cutting, while to dance clearly involves doing a dance), (ii) “Agent” incorporation should be treated as Manner incorporation, given that to spy does not entail being a spy, but behaving like one, (ii) weather verbs are ambiguous crosslinguistically (in that their subject seems to act as an Agent sometimes, but as a Patient/ Theme in other cases). I also provide representations in the previously discussed major accounts of denominals, opting for a spanning analysis.

Series:

Adina Camelia Bleotu

Abstract

Chapter 6 takes a look at verbs incorporating objects with the theta-role Location (such as shelter or adăposti) or Locatum (such as saddle or înşeua), providing both a description of the types encountered both in English and Romanian, as well as a formal account of their syntactic make-up. While dismissing phrasal spell-out as too uneconomical, I propose a spanning account as the most elegant way of capturing the data. In addition, I also look at verbs entering the locative alternation in English, German and Romanian (Matei a încărcat muzică pe ipod ‘Matei loaded music on the ipod’, Matei loaded the ipod with music ‘Matei a încărcat ipod-ul cu muzică’). I deal with the fact that, unlike English, Romance does not allow complex resultatives (PP/AP) in locative structures and I related this to the distinction verb-framed/ satellite-framed languages (Talmy 1985, 1991). I introduce into the discussion a special locative alternation pattern present in Romanian (Matei a încărcat ipod-ul de muzică ‘Matei loaded the ipod of music’), which I account for by means of the silent noun FULL selecting a PP (more specifically, de + noun).

Series:

Adina Camelia Bleotu

Abstract

Instrument verbs represent an interesting challenge for any account of denominal verbs, given the apparent adjunct status of the incorporated instrument PP. In order to deal with this issue, I adopt a similar view to Harley (2005), who resorts to direct merger of the manner root into v. More specifically, I couch this solution in a spanning representation of denominals. I represent instrument verbs in Romanian as having an additional verbalizer to the English ones. Moreover, I try to account for the difference between true instrumentals (like chain) and pseudo-instrumentals (like hammer) (Kiparsky 1982, 1997) by arguing that, unlike true instrumentals, pseudo-instrumentals select a classifier (Class), an OBJECT TYPE N rather than a nominal root.

Series:

Adina Camelia Bleotu

Abstract

In Chapter 1, I evaluate the theoretical anchoring of various definitions of denominal verbs present in the literature: as verbs that incorporate nouns in Hale & Keyser (2002), as verbs that can be paraphrased using nouns in Clark & Clark (1979), or as verbs derived from (nominal) roots in Distributed Morphology (Marantz 1997). I support the view that denominal verbs have a complex internal structure involving nominal roots/ nouns by looking at evidence from the semantic role of the root (Levinson 2007), pseudoresultatives in Romanian, adverbials acting over l-syntactic structures in Italian and the reinterpretation of proper names within denominals.

Series:

Adina Camelia Bleotu

Abstract

In Chapter 2, on the basis of a personal corpus of Romanian denominals, I tested Harley’s (2005) hypothesis that there is a correlation between the (un)boundedness of the nominal root and the (a)telicity of the corresponding denominal. The results of this investigation show that Harley’s (2005) correlation fails to account for a considerable number of verbs, and that incorporating mass nouns does not seem to have a clear atelic effect. This suggests that one should look for a different explanation of telicity, possibly lying in the role played by s-syntax (the elements the verbs combine with in the sentence) or the predicates occurring in the internal structure of a denominal, apart from the nominal root (e.g. CAUSE, as causes usually have results).