LINGUIST List 10.126

Thu Jan 28 1999

Disc: Adjectives to Verbs

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <karenlinguistlist.org>


Directory

  1. Ingo Plag, Re: 10.105, Disc: Adjectives to Verbs
  2. John M. Lawler, Re: 10.84, Disc: Adjectives to Verbs
  3. Bitjaa Kody Zachee Denis, Re: 10.97, Disc: Adjectives to Verbs
  4. Dag Gundersen, Re: 10.105, Disc: Adjectives to Verbs

Message 1: Re: 10.105, Disc: Adjectives to Verbs

Date: Sat, 23 Jan 1999 09:36:03 +0000
From: Ingo Plag <plagMailer.Uni-Marburg.DE>
Subject: Re: 10.105, Disc: Adjectives to Verbs

Dear colleagues,

those interested in the productivity, semantics and phonology of 
derived verbs in English may be interested in reading the second part 
of my forthcoming book (due January 1999) 'Morphological 
Productivity: Structural Constraints in English Derivation' (Mouton 
de Gruyter), which is an indepth study of hundreds of 20th century 
neologisms, all of them derived verbs of various categories (IZE, 
IFY, ATE, EN-, -EN, ZERO etc.). The data come from the OED on CD-ROM 
and from the cobuild corpus.

Perhaps the most surprising finding is that the putatively rival 
affixes are more or less in complementary distribution, 
governed by phonological, morphological and semantic constraints. 
Where the constraints allow more than one kind of derived verb, more 
than one type of derived verb is often attested. In other words, we 
can indeed make rather precise predictions about possible and 
impossible derived verbs.

Best,

Ingo Plag
(Marburg, Germany)
PD Dr. Ingo Plag
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Message 2: Re: 10.84, Disc: Adjectives to Verbs

Date: Sun, 24 Jan 1999 11:54:38 -0500
From: John M. Lawler <jlawlerumich.edu>
Subject: Re: 10.84, Disc: Adjectives to Verbs

In his original posting, Mike Maxwell <Mike_Maxwellsil.org> gives
the following context for his question:

> I ran into the following
> (in an Internet discussion of using the Microsoft Word program):

>> In documents Newed from this template...
>> [I] then tried a) attaching that template to existing documents,
>> b) Newing a document from that template...

> (The context is that in Word, if you create a document template with
> certain properties, you can then create new documents having these
> properties by clicking on a menu choice labeled "New".)

As I suspected when I first read the sentences, the process does not
refer so much to the English adjective "new" as it does to the Word
menu choice "New" (note capital). On that same menu, or 'paradigm',
as a linguist might call it, are the following mutually exclusive
transitive verbs whose unspecified object is the current file:

 New
 Open
 Close
 -----
 Save
 Print
 Send

In particular, the first three above are the first three on the menu, and
form a special group of commands, separated from the rest. Thus, one may
unproblematically "Open" a file or "Close" it, and, by fairly obvious
analogy, one may now also "New" it, in the context of this software, at
least, with special connotations, as Mike suggests.

So this really isn't a good example of a regular linguistic zero-
derivation of Adj --> Verb, but rather one strongly mediated by its visual
and softwary contexts. That said, I should point out that this also does
not provide any answer for the far more interesting question of why such
Adj --> Verb zero-derivation is so uncommon in English, in contrast with
Noun --> Verb.

- John Lawler U Michigan http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jlawler/
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Message 3: Re: 10.97, Disc: Adjectives to Verbs

Date: Sun, 24 Jan 1999 14:26:42 -0500 (EST)
From: Bitjaa Kody Zachee Denis <bitjaakzMAGELLAN.UMontreal.CA>
Subject: Re: 10.97, Disc: Adjectives to Verbs


Je suis avec beaucoup d'interet la discussion actuelle sur les adjectifs
et leur capacite a generer des verbes. La categorie grammaticale de
l'adjectif peut en effet porter en elle des caracteristiques du nom et du
verbe comme l'a precise Noam Chomsky.
 
Portant des caracteristiques du verbe, l'adjectif est donc en mesure de
generer d'autres categories grammaticales dans certaines langues comme
l'anglais.

Dans les langues Bantu en general, les radicaux adjectivaux et les
radicaux nominaux avec lesquels ils constituent la categorie des
nominaux
sont monovalents par essence et ne sauraient generer des mots
d'une categorie autre que la leur. Un nominal ne saurait generer un verbe
ou un adjectif et un radical adjectival ne saurait generer un verbe ou un
nom.

Les radicaux verbaux par contre, sont au moins bivalents dans la plupart
des langues Bantu.

En basaa, langue Bantu parlee au Cameroun dont j'ai profondement
examine le systeme verbal en 1990, les radicaux verbaux sont generalement
bivalents, c'est-a-dire qu'ils permettent de generer aussi bien des bases
verbales que des themes nominaux :

Exemples :

"top" chanter permet d'obtenir " n-tub-a" chanson
"kok" ecraser permet d'obtenir "ngok" la pierre

Certains radicaux verbaux sont trivalents, c'est-a-dire qu'ils generent
autant une base verbale, un theme nominal et un theme adjectival.

"pop" etre blanc (verbe) permet d'obtenir "pub-a" le blanc (nom) et
"pub-i" blanc (adjectif)

Au niveau de l'analyse morphologique, une representation arborescente de
ces 3 derniers mots montrerait que "pop" du radical verbal est la forme
sous-jacente des derives "puba" et "pubi" qui contiennent une voyelle plus
fermee, marque de certaines formes derivees en basaa.

Il est donc clair ici que le radical verbal est a la base des themes
nominaux et adjectivaux et non l'inverse. Le basaa ne presente nulle part
un adjectif qui genere un verbe ou un nom.

Les caracteristiques morphologiques pouvant varier d'une langue a l'autre
ou d'une famille de langues a une autre, il est possible qu'en anglais
particulierement, certains radicaux adjectivaux puissent generer des
verbes comme l'adjectif NEW genere deja l'adverbe NEWLY et d'autres
formes signalees par nos collegues ayant contribue dans cette discussion. 

On pourrait ainsi penser a une categorisation des langues par leur type
morphologique, ce qui a ete largement etudie par plusieurs recherches sur
les universaux du langage et la linguistique comparee.
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Message 4: Re: 10.105, Disc: Adjectives to Verbs

Date: Mon, 25 Jan 1999 09:35:43 +0100 (MET)
From: Dag Gundersen <dag.gunderseninl.uio.no>
Subject: Re: 10.105, Disc: Adjectives to Verbs

10.97: Adjectives to verbs
"Any word can be verbed" is a statement I have seen in print before it was
quoted here. This is probably the reason why at least one wellknown British
lexicographer says she has no use for the concept of homonymy. - "To white
sth. out" (Cambridge Int. Dict. of English, 1995); here on The list I have
seen "to dumb it down" (popularize, simplify).
Though English is not my mother tongue I have the feeling that you could
extend the saying above into "...and any verb can be nouned": to make a go
of things, have a try, go in for the kill, etc. It is an exaggeration of
course; there are restrictions, historical, semantic, pragmatic, etc. -
Best wishes for your further search,
Dag Gundersen
U. of Oslo
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