A Cognitive-Functional Approach to Nominalization in English

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Walter de Gruyter, 2003 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 287 pages
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The book presents a systematic theoretical account of the fundamental constructional mechanisms that underlie deverbal nominalization in general, and it makes an original descriptive contribution by discussing a number of nominalization systems in detail.

The main theoretical motif is that nominalization strongly calls for a functional rather than purely structural approach. The book goes more deeply into a number of functional constructs needed to model nominalization (drawn from Cognitive Grammar and Systemic-Functional Grammar) and it elaborates on the internal functional organization of nominal and clausal structure [e.g. the notions of type specification, instantiation and grounding (Langacker 1991) are discussed in detail and shown to be crucial for the analysis of deverbal nominalization]. It is argued that deverbal nominalizations are basically re-classifications of verbal predicates into nominal constructions. This re-classification either applies at word rank or it involves the rank shift (Halliday 1966) of a clause-like unit, with its internal structure preserved (e.g. signing the contract quickly). The re-classified unit then adopts a specific nominal strategy, with some form of nominal determination and quantification (e.g. her signing the contract quickly).

The descriptive part of the book zooms in on nominalizations that are derived at word rank (deverbal -er nominals) and on nominalizations applying to 'a temporal clausal heads' (e.g. John's playing the piano) and finite clauses. Of the gerundive and finite types of nominalization, those that function in factive contexts are focused on. In the analysis of deverbal -er nominals a case is made for a 'subject' analysis of the system and an elaborate discussion of the clausal middle construction (e.g. this book reads easily) - which is argued to show systematic resemblances with non-agentive -er nominals - is included. Of the remaining nominalization types (John's playing the piano; playing the piano; the fact that he plays the piano; that he plays the piano ), especially the nominal behaviour (e.g. proper name vs. common noun strategy) and (in the case of gerundive nominals) the various structural and semantic subtypes that can be distinguished among them are discussed.

 

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Contents

Introduction
3
Theoretical assumptions
9
The natural symbolic relation between lexicogrammar
15
Functional layers of organization
29
Conclusion
40
Nominalizations as nonarbitrary symbolic units
46
A multifunctional account of nominalization
52
Towards a theoreticaldescriptive approach to nominali
58
A state of the art
126
Towards a semantic typology of middle constructions
132
Conclusion
147
A semantic typology of nonagentive er nominalizations
154
Deverbaler suffixation as Subjectprofiling
174
Factive nominalization Towards a descriptive po
181
Delineation of the fact category
195
A functional analysis of factive nominalizations as
207

From process type specification to clause
70
Nominalization as functional reclassification
94
Agent names or Subject names?
101
Lexicalization versus ad hoc nominalization
120
Conclusion
249
References
267
Index
281
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About the author (2003)

Liesbet Heyvaert teaches at the University of Leuven, Belgium.

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