Speaker Series: Jim Wood - Yale


Putting our heads together: Inheritance and deverbal event nouns in Icelandic
Jim Wood
Department of Linguistics, Yale University

When an event noun is derived from a verb, it is systematically ambiguous: eyðilegging 'destruction' can refer to an event (as in eyðilegging borgarinnar var hræðilegur atburður 'the destruction of the town was a horrible event') or an entity (as in Jón gekk í gegnum eyðilegginguna 'Jón walked through the destruction'). In this talk, I take a detailed look at Icelandic nominalizations, and show how Icelandic raises problems for two basic approaches to the relationship between verbs and the nouns derived from them. I propose that all readings of deverbal event nouns should be derived from a single structure, one that is constructed by combining the root with v(erbal) and n(ominal) heads directly. I claim that the ambiguity stems from the fact that a given v or n head can be semantically meaningless or meaningful. The resulting system incorporates insights from both of the basic approaches discussed: objects and event structure are inherited from the verb, but subjects are introduced separately, in a way that is parallel to how they are introduced in the verb phrase. The syntax of an event nominal is just nominal syntax, with no verb phrase, even when the nominal contains a verbal head. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018 - 3:30pm - 5:00pm
Stiteler Hall, Room B21