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Nominalization instead of modification

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Abstract

In Dënesųłıné, an underdocumented indigenous language of Canada, the nominalization of full, finite clauses is highly productive. As a contribution to language description as well as to the study of nominalization, I show many examples of this construction, and give evidence that they are indeed nominalizations. I also show that these nominalizations are used instead of attributive modification of a noun, i.e. instead of adjectives and relative clauses. This fact turns out to be theoretically highly significant, because, as I argue, it is a strong piece of evidence that nouns in Dënesųłıné are inherently entities (type 〈e〉). Based on Chierchia’s (1998) nominal mapping parameter, I develop a typology where nouns in some languages are mapped to type 〈e〉 and, unlike better-known type 〈e〉 languages such as Mandarin, remain of that type throughout the derivation, without ever shifting to the predicative type, 〈e,t〉. I speculate on reasons for the emergence of this kind of language, and based on Dënesųłıné, develop its major characteristics.

References

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