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Aspectual and quantificational properties of deverbal conversion and -ing nominalizations: the power of context

  • MARIOS ANDREOU (a1) and ROCHELLE LIEBER (a2)

Abstract

In this article we explore the range of aspectual and quantificational readings that are available to two kinds of deverbal nominalizations in English, conversion nouns and -ing nominals. Using data gathered from the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) and the British National Corpus (BNC), we examine the range of readings available for the conversion and -ing forms of 106 English verbs in context. We distinguish eventive versus referential readings, looking at instances of both count and mass quantification for the two kinds of nominalizations. Within the eventive readings we also distinguish bounded versus unbounded aspectual readings, and within bounded readings two types that we call ‘completive’ and ‘package’. We argue that the quantificational properties and aspectual intepretation of both conversion and -ing nominalizations are not rigidly or even loosely determined by the form of the nominalization, but that the lexical aspect of the base verb (state, activity, accomplishment, achievement, semelfactive) plays some role in circumscribing aspectual readings. We argue that the strongest role in determining quantificational and aspectual readings is played by factors arising from the context in which conversion forms and -ing nominalizations are deployed. The aspectual interpretation of conversion and -ing nominalizations can be influenced by the presence of temporal and quantificational modifiers, by surrounding tenses, as well as by encyclopedic knowledge. We conclude with a consideration of the theoretical implications of our findings.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Footnotes

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Authorship is shared equally between the two authors. We are grateful for the comments of Ingo Plag, as well as those of two anonymous reviewers. Andreou acknowledges the financial support of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG Collaborative Research Centre 991: ‘The Structure of Representations in Language, Cognition, and Science’, Project C08 ‘The semantics of derivational morphology: A frame-based approach’).

Footnotes

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