LINGUIST List 7.504

Fri Apr 5 1996

Disc: English Nominals

Editor for this issue: Ljuba Veselinova <>


  1. Waruno Mahdi, Re: Disc: English_attrib_nominals (7-486)

Message 1: Re: Disc: English_attrib_nominals (7-486)

Date: Sun, 31 Mar 1996 15:44:51 +0200
From: Waruno Mahdi <>
Subject: Re: Disc: English_attrib_nominals (7-486)
Benji Wald wrote:
> I certainly agreed with Andreas's observation that in "SHELL oil" and
> "Wrangler(s?) jeans" the modifier is not an adjective, though I don't
> agree with his argument about failure in predicate position, (his *)
> "this oil is SHELL",
> cf. "Smell this oil. Is it Shell or Texaco?".

The critique is addressed to the wrong person, because I was the one
who suggested the argument. Otherwise, Benji does make a point, and I
of course agree with the critique. I should have added a semantic
concretization comment as suggested in Karen Chung's contribution on
"ungrammatical sentences" (7-484). The point she made I can only
support, and Benji has inadvertantly supplied some dozen or more

Benji Wald also wrote:
> I have not fully thought out what's going on with the syntactic
> processes involved, but I think the way tradenames are integrated into
> the grammar of English is nothing peculiar to them, but reflects more
> general processes whose origin and precise form I do not fully
> understand.

In my message to Andreas Westerhoff, partially quoted in his summary,
I also mentioned certain similarities between English and analytical
languages of Southeast Asia with regard to the importance of syntax in
the study of morphology, which agrees nicely with Benji Wald's
> a current interest I have
> in the overlap of syntactic and word formation processes in English

some of the features they have in common are perhaps inherrent in
analytical (as opposed to inflectional) grammars. In comparing Malay
(agglutinative) with isolating languages of mainland SE Asia, I was
often surprised, how nicely English lends itself to litteral
translations of comparative glosses, making it simpler to explain the
matter in English than in some other European language. I think,
comparative studies of English and Southeast Asian syntax and
morphology would be beneficial to the understanding of the latter, but
of English as well. The use of the noun as a qualitative (that is, not
possessive) attribute, rather puzzling in the light of traditional
views on nouns and adjectives, is quite normal in Southeast Asia,
where the noun in that position is subject to several constraints in
the realization of valencies which are otherwise typical for the
noun. Albeit, the Southeast Asian languages are not as extensively
studied as English, so this is going to be like the proverbial
cooperation between the blind man and the cripple.

Regards, Waruno

Waruno Mahdi tel: +49 30 8413 5408
Faradayweg 4-6 fax: +49 30 8413 3155
14195 Berlin email:
Germany WWW:
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