Linguistik-Klassifikation: Sprachtypologie / Language typology
Qualities, objects, sorts, and other treasures : gold digging in English and Arabic
- In the present monograph, we will deal with questions of lexical typology in the nominal domain. By the term "lexical typology in the nominal domain", we refer to crosslinguistic regularities in the interaction between (a) those areas of the lexicon whose elements are capable of being used in the construction of "referring phrases" or "terms" and (b) the grammatical patterns in which these elements are involved. In the traditional analyses of a language such as English, such phrases are called "nominal phrases". In the study of the lexical aspects of the relevant domain, however, we will not confine ourselves to the investigation of "nouns" and "pronouns" but intend to take into consideration all those parts of speech which systematically alternate with nouns, either as heads or as modifiers of nominal phrases. In particular, this holds true for adjectives both in English and in other Standard European Languages. It is well known that adjectives are often difficult to distinguish from nouns, or that elements with an overt adjectival marker are used interchangeably with nouns, especially in particular semantic fields such as those denoting MATERIALS or NATlONALlTIES. That is, throughout this work the expression "lexical typology in the nominal domain" should not be interpreted as "a typology of nouns", but, rather, as the cross-linguistic investigation of lexical areas constitutive for "referring phrases" irrespective of how the parts-of-speech system in a specific language is defined.
Typological parameters of genericity
- Different languages employ different morphosyntactic devices for expressing genericity. And, of course, they also make use of different morphosyntactic and semantic or pragmatic cues which may contribute to the interpretation of a sentence as generic rather than episodic. [...] We will advance the strong hypo thesis that it is a fundamental property of lexical elements in natural language that they are neutral with respect to different modes of reference or non-reference. That is, we reject the idea that a certain use of a lexical element, e.g. a use which allows reference to particular spatio-temporally bounded objects in the world, should be linguistically prior to all other possible uses, e.g. to generic and non-specific uses. From this it follows that we do not consider generic uses as derived from non-generic uses as it is occasionally assumed in the literature. Rather, we regard these two possibilities of use as equivalent alternative uses of lexical elements. The typological differences to be noted therefore concern the formal and semantic relationship of generic and non-generic uses to each other; they do not pertain to the question of whether lexical elements are predetermined for one of these two uses. Even supposing we found a language where generic uses are always zero-marked and identical to lexical sterns, we would still not assume that lexical elements in this language primarily have a generic use from which the non-generic uses are derived. (Incidentally, none of the languages examined, not even Vietnamese, meets this criterion.)