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LINGUIST List 20.3228

Thu Sep 24 2009

Diss: Syntax/Typology: Luuk: 'The Noun/Verb and Predicate/Argument...'

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        1.    Erkki Luuk, The Noun/Verb and Predicate/Argument Structures

Message 1: The Noun/Verb and Predicate/Argument Structures
Date: 23-Sep-2009
From: Erkki Luuk <erkkilgmail.com>
Subject: The Noun/Verb and Predicate/Argument Structures
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Institution: University of Tartu
Program: general linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2009

Author: Erkki Luuk

Dissertation Title: The Noun/Verb and Predicate/Argument Structures

Dissertation URL: http://www.ut.ee/~el/pubs/Erkki%20Luuk%20-%20PhD%20thesis.pdf

Linguistic Field(s): Syntax

Dissertation Director:
Haldur Õim

Dissertation Abstract:

Previously, establishing a correspondence between the noun/verb and first
order predicate logic's predicate/argument structures has been found
problematic (Hurford 2003a,b). The thesis claims that the
predicate/argument system of natural language includes up to three orders
of predicates and arguments and a rule system for stipulating second- and
third-order predicates and arguments and converting predicates to arguments
and vice versa, which make it significantly more complex than the
predicate/argument systems of first and second order logics. In this
system, nouns are linguistic arguments and verbs are linguistic predicates
but the set of linguistic arguments and predicates is not restricted to
nouns and verbs. In addition, some properties of this system as well as
some general properties of any predicate/argument structure suggest that
linguistic arguments (e.g. nouns) may evolutionarily predate linguistic
predicates (e.g. verbs). The thesis analyzes this hypothesis, originally
proposed by Heine and Kuteva (2002, 2007), and concludes, with a number of
new arguments from a variety of domains, that the evidence of linguistic
arguments predating linguistic predicates is overwhelming. The thesis also
claims that the most parsimonious hypothesis for stems that are ambiguous
with respect to the noun/verb distinction (such as walk, love, kill etc.)
is that they are neither nouns nor verbs but flexibles, i.e. either
linguistic arguments or predicates depending on their marking. Given this
inventory of lexical classes, together with the axiom that all languages
have at least one lexical class that maps to argument and at least one that
maps to predicate, the following five logically possible language types
emerge: noun/verb/flexible, noun/flexible, verb/flexible, noun/verb, and
flexible. After analyzing evidence for each of these types, it is concluded
that type noun/verb/flexible is by far the most common, if not the only one
present among the world's languages, with type flexible ranking next in

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