In her monograph based on her PhD thesis, Dr. Bleotu compares the derivation of denominal verbs in English—for instance, to dance, to shelve the books, to hammer the metal—with the Romanian ones: a dansa (to dance), a adăposti (to shelter) or a ciomăgi un om (to club a person). Her starting point is the approach developed by Hale and Keyser in 2002 in their Prolegomena, where they consider denominals to be derived either via movement of noun roots into v (incorporation) or via merge (conflation). Bleotu analyzes three possible spell-out theories: distributed morphology (Marantz), nanosyntax (Starke 2009) and spanning (Ramchand 2014 and Adger 2006) and concludes with her own proposal motivated on the basis of the data examined. This monograph tackles a very difficult and important subject, not very much studied in the previous literature, and is highly commendable both for the results achieved and for the originality of the observations.
Ca’ Foscari University
The monograph has two aims: the first is an empirical investigation of the semantic generalizations underlying the class of verbs in Romanian that are morphologically related to nouns; the second is a detailed point by point comparison of how successful the different theoretical frameworks on the market are in capturing this data. The three frameworks examined are: Distributed Morphology (DM), the more recent radical phrasal spell-out alternative Nanosyntax, and Spanning, which has some of the core properties of both the two previously named approaches.
The monograph advances our knowledge in a number of significant and important ways. The first contribution concerns the detailed empirical work done in classifying and describing the situation of denominals in Romanian in a fine grained theoretical way. Secondly, the monograph offers some important generalizations and insight concerning an important and influential claim in the literature that the boundedness properties of the underlying nominal determine the telicity/atelicity of the derived verb quite generally in language. Bleotu’s systematic study shows that this hypothesis is simply false, and that, if anything, the generalization goes in one direction only and for a specific type of verb and a specific type of thematic relationship between verb and noun. Bleotu’s empirical study also shows clearly the difference in productivity between English and Romanian with respect to the classes of location, locatum and instrument verbs. The patterns identified will be important to future researchers in establishing the parametric differences between Romance type languages and English type or Germanic languages. Finally, the monograph provides a series of explicit implementations of the different frameworks named above in order to compare their descriptive and explanatory adequacy. This contribution is original and important because of the newness of the second two frameworks in the intellectual community. The field would not be able to advance or accommodate theoretical innovations without subjecting these less worked out architectures to the test cases provided by problems of real linguistic analysis. Bleotu has taken an important area in verbal argument structure and been commendably explicit about how the different architectures would tackle them.
University of Tromsø, Norway
Towards a Theory of Denominals is an excellent piece of work, showing both ability to deal with an unexplored set of data (Romanian denominal verbs) and an excellent ability to work with and evaluate recent, sometimes not completely worked out frameworks.
Of the many questions that may be discussed under a theory of denominal verbs, the monograph focuses on two central issues:
- the main problem is that of the connection between internal syntax and morphology and then phonology, the interface problem being the connection between LF and PF; several spell-out theories are proposed and examined in detail, nanosyntax (Starke, Pantcheva, Ramchand, Chaha) and spanning, a more complex descendant of DM.
- a second problem, highlighted in the second part of the monograph, is that of the interpretation of denominal verbs, to what extent structural meaning (first phase structure) determines semantic interpretation.
On the more technical side, the monograph attempts to provide answers to the following questions: can nanosyntax and spanning accommodate the major types of denominal verbs?, what is the explanatory power of the two approaches?, what tools do they offer for stating some of the well-established generalizations?, and to what extent does the new formalism provide adequate means of parametrization?
To provide answers to these questions, the author analyses the main types of denominal verbs in English and Romanian, a typical Germanic/Romance pair, so that Adina Bleotu’s monograph also addresses an empirical problem, that of accommodating English and Romanian denominal verbs in the two novel frameworks and of ascertaining to what extent the differences between the two languages are accountable for in both frameworks.
University of Bucharest