Re: When is a verb not a verb? (was: Trigger language question concerning the use of "to be")
|From:||Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, May 11, 2005, 18:32|
On Wednesday, May 11, 2005, at 01:51 , Damian Yerrick wrote:
> "Ray Brown" <ray.brown@...> wrote:
>> While one can argue that the "verb" in Tagalog is only a "quasi-verb"
>> since its "enlargements" are treated as attributes (genitives) and not as
>> 'objects', and thus consider them as a sub-category of 'noun', it seems
>> me that you then have a category of noun which is a "quasi-noun" in that,
>> unlike other nouns, it can be marked for aspect and is marked to indicate
>> the participant role of its subject.
> English verbal nouns can be marked for aspect as well:
> "pushing" - imperfect aspect
> "starting to push" - inchoative aspect
> "having pushed" - perfect aspect
"starting to push" while a periphrasis which might translate the
inchoative aspect of another language is not a grammaticalized aspect in
English in the way that "pushing" and "having pushed" are. Many, including
myself, would see it as a verbal noun (gerund) followed by 'to' = the
In any case, these are hardly typical of the class noun in English. It is
only the sub-class of verbal noun (which certain verbal functions with
nominal functions) that allow his. No one AFAIK has gone on to argue that
a syntactic class called 'verb' does not exist in English.
>> The latter feature feature is called _voice_ in IE and other languages. I
>> guess the reason that it is not called 'voice' in Tagalog is that while
>> with the IE passive, if the Agent is expressed, it is specifically marked
>> as agent, but in Tagalog it is a genitive attribute just like any other
>> verbal object/ argument.
> Some English verbal nouns mark agent with a genitive case as well:
> "growth of a plant".
No, 'growth' is *not* a verbal noun; it is a _deverbal noun_. There is an
important difference between deverbal nouns and verbal nouns and confusing
the two is IMO misleading.
Verbal nouns, such as infinitives and gerunds, are:
- nouns in that, for example, they may be subject or objects of verbs, e.g.
Smoking is forbidden. It is forbidden to smoke. He loves fishing. She
likes to fish.
Gerunds in english may also be the object of prepositions; some languages,
such as French, also allow infinitives to be objects of prepositions, e.g.
without telling lies; sans mentir
- verbal, in that they still retain certain verbal functions, namely they
can still have object arguments and may be modified by adverbs, e.g.
He tried to give the boy medicine.
He tried giving the boy medicine.
To take exercise daily will help you enormously.
Taking exercise daily will hep you enormously.
Trask defines verbal nouns this: "Any form of a verb which can serve as
the head of a noun phrase in a nominalization, particularly a gerund."
Trask defines 'deverbal' this: "In word formation, denoting a lexical item
of another class derived from a verb or a verbal stem. For example,
_realization_ is a deverbal noun derived from the verb _realize_." In
other words, verbal nouns are purely nouns, derived from verbs, which have
therefore no verbal functions.
'growth' cannot take object arguments nor can it be modifed by an adverb.
We do not say say *'abnormally growth'; we use an _adjective_ because it
is a noun and say 'abnormal growth'.
If we wish to express the participant role of the verbal meaning of a
deverbal noun then, of course, we have to use a possessive construction:
her growth; the plant's growth; the growth of the plant
her realization; Peter's realization
Indeed, it precisely because all the participant roles, except the subject
(which is *not* necessarily the Agent), are expressed with genitive
constructs that lead some to consider that Tagalog has no syntactic verbs.
>> However, consider Trask's definition of 'voice':
>> "The grammatical category expressing the relationship between, on the one
>> hand, the participant roles of the NP arguments of the verb and, on the
>> other hand, the grammatical relations borne by those same NPs."
>> This surely is precisely what is going on in Tagalog.
> English does something kinda-sorta similar with its gerunds:
> "pushing" - active voice
> "being pushed" - passive voice
Yes indeed, which is not possible with deverbal nouns. Which is why I
queried the 'all-noun' analysis of Tagalog.
> What would a trigger/all-noun pidgin English look like?
I guess Tom Breton's All-Noun is an English all-noun pidgin - but it's
quite different from Tagalog :)
Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight,
which is not so much a twilight of the gods
as of the reason." [JRRT, "English and Welsh" ]