LINGUIST List 16.394

Wed Feb 09 2005

Sum: Prenominal Modifiers

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        1.    Yosuke Miyata, Prenominal Modifiers

Message 1: Prenominal Modifiers

Date: 07-Feb-2005
From: Yosuke Miyata <>
Subject: Prenominal Modifiers

Regarding query:

I show the result of the survey below:

Question A:

(Yes, No, ?)

(1) a. departing guests (7,0,0)
b. falling leaves (7,0,0)
c. boiling water (7,0,0)
d. a running boy (7,0,0)
e. advancing soldiers (7,0,0)
f. a singing lark (7,0,0)
g. a dancing girl (7,0,0)
h. increasing reluctance (7,0,0)
i. a dying soldier (7,0,0)
j. a rotting table (7,0,0)
k. a barking dog (7,0,0)
l. a growing boy (6,1,0)
m. the smoking volcano (7,0,0)
n. a sleeping baby (7,0,0)
o. a burning house (7,0,0)
p. playing children (7,0,1)
q. returning vacationers (7,0,0)
r. the coming train (3,3,1)
s. the going train (1,7,0)
t. the walking man (4,0,3)

(2) a. the lying man (1,4,1)
b. the standing man (4,2,1)
c. the stopping car (1,3,3)
d. the arriving guest (3,1,3)
e. the arriving guests (6,0,1)

(3) a. the breathing man (4,0,3)
b. the quickly breathing man (6,0,1)
c. the eating children (1,4,2)
d. the greedily eating children (4,0,3)
e. the reading man (2,3,2)
f. the loudly reading man (4,3,0)

(4) a. a drinking man (5,1,1)
b. smoking mothers (5,1,1)
c. the drinking cattle (4,1,2)

(5) a. a looking man (0,7,0)
b. a drowsy-looking man (7,0,0)
c. a smelling mixture (0,7,0)
d. a foul-smelling mixture (6,1,0)
e. a producing well (2,4,1)
f. an oil-producing well (5,2,0)
g. the speaking people (1,4,2)
h. the English-speaking people (5,2,0)
i. the book-reading man (4,3,0)

(6) a. a stealing man (1,5,1)
b. a quickly-stealing man (2,5,0)
c. a skillfully-stealing man (1,6,0)
d. a reaching boy (1,5,1)
e. a quickly reaching boy (2,5,0)
f. the crushing car (1,5,0)
h. the falling boy (6,1,0)
i. the quickly-falling boy (6,1,0)

(7) a. the writing boy (1,3,3)
b. the skillfully writing boy (2,4,1)
c. the typewriting boy (2,3,2)
d. the devouring children (2,4,1)
e. the devouring man (2,4,1)
g. the gasping boy (7,0,0)

As for Question B, two people's answers were unavailable, but I found that
most of the respondents judged that almost all the examples could not have
generic meaning. I just show some examples that got more than two positive

(1) g. a a dancing girl
(4) a. a drinking man
b. smoking mothers
(5) f. an oil-producing well

From the result of A, I can say that almost all the purely intransitive
verbs (that do not take an object in default) can premodify the head noun
in "-ing" form as the literature says. As for transitive verbs, it is said
that they cannot take "-ing" form before the head noun without a certain
adverbial, but this is not necessarily the case as those in (6).

My further research is to examine the characteristics of the each component
in "-ing + N" construction to explicate what is imposed on this form.

I thank those who answered the questions.

Linguistic Field(s): Semantics
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