Nominalization in Tibeto-Burman languages of the Himalayan area

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Tibeto-Burman languages exhibit an interesting composite of behavior in nominalized structures. In particular, these languages make extensive use of clausal nominalization (found in attributive phrases, complementation, relative clauses, and independent utterances), as well as derivational nominalization. This paper describes the syntactic and functional dimensions of nominalization in five distantly-related Tibeto-Burman languages of the Himalayan area. It demonstrates that the same affixes are used to derive lexical nouns and lexical adjectives and that this bifunctionality is a natural consequence of clausal nominalization. While clausal and derivational nominalizations are distinct structures synchronically, each can give rise to the other. The center of these historical developments is relativization, which instantiates clausal syntax but is ultimately a referential device.


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