On the tightrope between infinitives and action nouns

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In this paper, I study the distribution of two nominalization structures in two closely related Amerindian languages of Mexico (Eastern Otomi and Northern Otomi). The structures involve intransitive nominalizations depicting a customary activity performed by humans (‘hunting’, ‘sowing’, etc.) as they appear in a complementation frame. I address the question of whether these nominalization structures in Otomi are morphologically non-finite forms or are just nouns. I show how a cognate structure in two close languages can be found in the two opposing ends of a nominalization scale: in Eastern Otomi, the structure is inflectional and should be analyzed as an intransitive infinitive, while its equivalent in Northern Otomi should be seen as an action deverbal noun.


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