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Simple event nominalizations

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Abstract

In one popular view, expressed most fully in Borer 2005, word meanings are nothing but unstructured, polysemous &#8216;blobs&#8217; of content, with no formal properties. It is the syntactic context that shapes their meaning, and only this functional scaffolding delivers the kinds of meanings that the compositional semantics trades in. I call this the &#8216;Blob Theory&#8217; of root meanings. I am going to argue against the Blob Theory by investigating an overlooked class of nominalizations that show properties unexpected under most classifications (Grimshaw 1990, and following): they exhibit some properties of event nominals (they can be modified by <i>frequent/constant</i>, cf. Borer 2003, Alexiadou 2009) but they nonetheless do not have argument structure. I provide an account of these nominalizations as eventive root nominalizations. I then examine the behaviour of these nominalizations with respect to clausal arguments. I argue that their ability to combine with clausal complements shows that roots have a structured semantics that interacts, as unexpected by Blob Theory, with the compositional semantics.

References

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