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LINGUIST List 24.4268

Tue Oct 29 2013

Diss: Semantics: Wang: 'Semantics of Event Nouns'

Editor for this issue: Xiyan Wang <xiyanlinguistlist.org>

Date: 29-Oct-2013
From: Shan WANG <successfulyeargmail.com>
Subject: Semantics of Event Nouns
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Institution: Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Program: Department of Chinese and Bilingual Studies
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2012

Author: Shan Wang

Dissertation Title: Semantics of Event Nouns

Linguistic Field(s): Semantics

Dissertation Director:
James Pustejovsky
Chu-Ren Huang

Dissertation Abstract:

In the philosophy of language and formal semantics, it is often assumed
that nouns denote entities and sentences denote propositions and events.
This semantic dichotomy is maintained in the study of deverbal nouns, where
the verb-like properties of process nominals are attributed to the verbs
they derive from. However, non-derived nouns like simple event nominals are
considered to behave similarly to result nominals. What kinds of nouns
carry eventive information and what information it is are the concerns of
this thesis.

This thesis reveals the criteria that can identify event nouns in Mandarin
Chinese, including event classifiers, event structure and light verbs. Then
it divided event nouns into three categories: process nominals, instant
nominals and pure event nouns. Based on the constraint-based linguistic
model, it establishes an event-based noun classification system. The
findings indicate that process nominals and pure event nouns have
the same behavior; instant nominal behave similarly to process nominals
and pure event nouns, except that they cannot be selected by aspectualizers
and durative time expressions.

Event nouns are typically compound nouns. The thesis explores their
morpho-syntactic properties, semantic properties, event representation
properties, and information inheritance properties.

This thesis enriches the type system of the Generative Lexicon theory
through studying event nouns, including natural types, artifactual types,
natural complex types and artifactual complex types. It then examines the
qualia role contribution to these types and proposes a scale-based qualia
role contribution system.

To elaborate eventive information representation of event nouns, the above
theoretical work is followed by a detailed analysis of huìyì 'meeting;
conference', as a typical non-derived event noun based on the Generative
Lexicon theory. The results demonstrate that non-derived event nouns can
represent eventive information. They behave like a deverbal nominal very
much and unlike an entity-referring noun.

This thesis identifies and classifies different adjectival categories that
are capable of modifying event nouns. Based on them, it establishes an
eventive qualia structure through examining each qualia role's attributes
and each attribute's role values. It also examines which types of event
nouns (NT, AT, NCT, ACT) that each adjectival category can modify.

This thesis analyzes the compositional mechanisms at work in NN compounds
when either the head or the modifier is an event noun. This analysis
extends the usage of the compositional mechanisms of GL in two ways: (i)
nominal head selection of a nominal modifier, and (ii) their usage in the
nominal event domain. This thesis has also proposed a compositional
mechanism sub-composition.

The comprehensive exploration of event nouns in this thesis contributes to
the research on eventive information of nouns as well as the development of
the Generative Lexicon theory. The results also have implications for
applications in natural language processing, language learning and

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