For decades, generative linguistics has said little about the differences between verbs, nouns, and adjectives. This book seeks to fill this theoretical gap by presenting simple and substantive syntactic definitions of these three lexical categories. Mark C. Baker claims that the various superficial differences found in particular languages have a single underlying source which can be used to give better characterizations of these 'parts of speech'. These definitions are supported by data from languages from every continent, including English, Italian, Japanese, Edo, Mohawk, Chichewa, Quechua, Choctaw, Nahuatl, Mapuche, and several Austronesian and Australian languages. Baker argues for a formal, syntax-oriented, and universal approach to the parts of speech, as opposed to the functionalist, semantic, and relativist approaches that have dominated the few previous works on this subject. This book will be welcomed by researchers and students of linguistics and by related cognitive scientists of language.
• Presents a formal theory of the basic 'parts of speech' • Claims that the parts of speech can be given simple, universally valid definitions • Definitions are supported by data from languages from every continent
Acknowledgements; List of abbreviations; 1. The problem of the lexical categories; 2. Verbs as licensers of subjects; 3. Nouns as bearers of a referential index; 4. Adjectives as neither nouns nor verbs; 5. Lexical categories and the nature of the grammar; Appendix: Adpositions as functional categories; References; Index.
'… this book, which contains comprehensive and dynamic grammatical consequences of the universal three-way category system, is an important contribution to our understanding of lexical categories, which, seemingly self-evident, have escaped a good theoretical explanation.' Studies in English Literature