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Query Details

Query Subject:   Prenominal Modifiers
Author:   Yosuke Miyata
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Semantics
Subject Language(s):  English

Query:   I am an MA student in Japan.
I hope that native English speakers answer the questions in
as informants. Before that, let me speak the basic research background briefly.
I am working on "prenominal -ing modifiers" of English. My major interest
is the constraint on transitive -ing. Generally, and to my knowledge,
intransitive -ing forms can modify the head noun but transitive -ing cannot:

(1) boiling water
(2) *the eating man

The latter case is also called pseudo-intransitive (cf. Lees, 1960). Some
of the verbs which are originally transitive can delete its objects in
context and in this sense they are pseudo-intransitive. Nevertheless, such
transitive verbs can premodify the noun if some additional element is
accompanied, e.g., *the eating man -> the fish-eating man.
There are four problems concerning my research. First, although (2) is
grammatically incorrect, it may be possible to interpret what it says. That
is, (2) means that the man who is performing the action denoted by the verb
in -ing form.
Second problem is that it seems that the acceptability of prenominal -ing
form of transitive verbs varies. among speakers. One American professor
(syntax major) in my university told that (2) was acceptable.
Thirdly, the interpretation of prenominal -ing forms are different
according to the context; i.e., "progressive" or "generic". If we say
"dancing girl", we might take it either as "a girl who is dancing (now)" or
"a girl who lives on dancing", etc.
The last problem is about definiteness / indefiniteness of the article.
According to Qurik et al. (1985), they say "The indefinite article favours
the habitual or permanent, the definite article the specific or temporary." :

(3) ?The approaching train is from Liverpool.
(4) He was frightened by an approaching train.

I hope that those who are native English speakers visit
and answer the questions as informants.
If you answer the questions, send to faiz@nifty.com, please. If I receive
enough answers, I will post in Sum.

PS: I am also interested in Generative Lexicon theory of J.Pustejovsky. If
anyone knows papers dealing with adjectives or prenominal modifiers of
English from the perspective of GL theory such as Bouillon,P(1999), please
notify me.


Yosuke Miyata
LL Issue: 15.3034
Date posted: 25-Oct-2004


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