Paolo Acquaviva

Roots, Categories, and Nominal Concepts

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Lexical categories; lexical semantics; morphology; nouns; roots

This paper investigates what is specifically nominal in lexical semantics and how it relates to nouns as morphosyntactic objects. Nouns are argued to refer primarily to kind-level sorts, which define categories of entities in the speakers' conceptualization. This notion is characterized in semantic, ontological, and cognitive terms. Not all nominalized properties are concepts; in particular, not transparent deverbal nominalizations. Concepts thus provide a substantive notion of nominality not coextensive with the morphosyntactic one. Evidence is presented for the explanatory value of nominal concepts, as the semantic contribution of noun stems in word formation and in non-standard modification patterns like "plastic flower". Concepts also express semantic restrictions on affixation ("ornamental", but "employmental"). Finally, concepts are the value of nouns as whole complexes, not of their roots. This accords with the view that lexical categories have content, but roots are category-free.

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