LINGUIST List 12.1659

Mon Jun 25 2001

Qs: Possessive Nominalization,Innate Grammar Proof

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  1. Yura Lander, Looking for Example of Possessive Nominalizations
  2. Paul Franckowiak, Searching for a Particular Innate Grammar Ability Proof

Message 1: Looking for Example of Possessive Nominalizations

Date: Sat, 23 Jun 2001 18:43:09 +0400
From: Yura Lander <>
Subject: Looking for Example of Possessive Nominalizations

Dear linguists,

I am looking for data (and references) on possessive 
nominalizations, that is when a possessor form can be used 
(in an argument position) without a possessum. Typical 
examples are

1) Russian uses (former) possessive adjectives as proper 
names. E.g.,

"Ivanovo" (name of a town) < "Ivanovo" 'Ivan's' (with 
"Borisov" (personal name) < "Borisov" 'Borisov's' 

2) Lezgian uses a genitive formant together with a plural 
marker to form the so-called "associative plural":

'mother and those with her'

Note that here another morpheme is added to the genitive marker.

3) English form "John's" in an argument position usually 
means 'John's home'.

(Of course, such a phenomenon is impossible in head-
marking languages.)

If you have an example of "possessive nominalization", 
please point also what is the normal possessive 
construction (including such data as possible word order, 
agreement patterns etc.) and predicative possessive 
construction ("This house is John's") in that language.

Thank you.
Best wishes,


Yura Lander

Yury A. Lander
Dept. of Languages
Institute of Oriental Studies
Rozhdestvenka, 12
Moscow 103031
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Message 2: Searching for a Particular Innate Grammar Ability Proof

Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2001 14:47:58 -0700
From: Paul Franckowiak <>
Subject: Searching for a Particular Innate Grammar Ability Proof

I have a question regarding an example I heard that makes some strong
claims about innate grammar abilities.

There is a sentence about a boy who falls from a tree and bruises or
breaks his arm. Later that evening in the bathtub, the boy's mother
notices another break or bruise. The boy then makes a claim about when
the injury occurred.

I have heard this sentence and the claims that can be made from it by
many different linguists. I don't remember the exact wording of the
story and I remember the wording to be crucial to the story serving as
an example.

I would like to share this sentence/story (along with the names of the
people who helped me to re-locate it) with my community college
students. I have looked through my old text books and can not find it.

<< I did see a documentary where the great Noam Chomsky was discussing
the example, so I imagine that the example is pretty popular.>>

That last sentence follows along the lines of the example I am seeking.

The difference being that in my sentence it is not clear why I think the
example is popular <because of the person discussing it or because it
was in a televised documentary.> and in the example I am seeking the
reason is clear.

Thank you for any information you can provide. I am hoping that in the 
cosmic scheme of things, something will come back to me.

Yours in Linguistic Study,


Paul Franckowiak
Curriculum Writer
Rio Salado Community College
Phone: (480) 517-8224
Fax: (480) 517-8229
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