When “Noun” Meets “Noun”: A Cross-Linguistic Look at Complex Nominals

7 Nov






Información aparecida en Linguist LIST: http://linguistlist.org/issues/27/27-4296.html



Full Title: When “Noun” Meets “Noun”: A Cross-Linguistic Look at Complex Nominals


Short Title: When “Noun” Meets “Noun”


Date: 10-Sep-2017 – 13-Sep-2017


Location: Zurich, Switzerland


Linguistic Field(s): Morphology; Semantics; Typology


Call Deadline: 06-Nov-2016



Meeting Description:


The workshop will investigate the strategies employed by the languages of the world to create complex denotations by combining two nominal (or nominalizing) elements.


In Germanic languages this is usually achieved through compounding (e.g. Ger. Eisen.bahn [iron.track] ‘railway’), but other languages use other constructions. Thus, Romance typically employs prepositional compounds (e.g. Fr. chemin de fer [track PREP iron] ‘railway’), while Slavic favours relational compounds (e.g. Rus. železnaja doroga [iron.ADJZ road] ‘railway’). Turkish has an izafet construction (demir.yol.u [iron.road.IZ] ‘railway’) and elsewhere possessives abound (e.g. Malagasy lala.m.by [road.PER.iron] ‘railway’). In all of these examples, the constituent meanings, the resultant meaning, and presumably also the underlying cognitive processes, are essentially identical, but the constructions are quite different. What they have in common is that they serve to name a complex concept via the combination of two “Thing-roots” (Haspelmath 2012), between which there is an unstated (or underspecified) relation. They are all binominal naming constructions (BNCs).


In terms of Štekauer’s model of onomasiological word-formation BNCs are Type 3 naming units, in which “the determined (actional) element is not linguistically expressed” (Štekauer 1998). This perspective prompts two further refinements to the concept of BNCs. The first is the exclusion of complex nominals of Štekauer’s Type 1 and Type 2 that contain an “Action-root”. As a consequence, synthetic compounds like truck-driver are considered out of scope. The second is based on the recognition that nominalizing affixes, like Eng. er and Slovak ica, and noun classifiers like Bora -heju (‘hole-like object’), constitute the “base” in a Type 3 complex nominal. As a consequence, adnominal nominalizations (e.g. Slovak želez.n.ica [iron.ADJZ.NMLZ] ‘railway’), and noun classifier constructions (e.g. Bora túú.heju [nose.CM(hole)] ‘nostril’), fulfil the basic criterion and are considered very much in scope.


This approach to complex denotation cuts across traditional boundaries between morphology and syntax, and between compounding and derivation: it “divides the cake” in a new way that might reveal new insights into language and conceptualization. The goal of this workshop is therefore to explore semantic and morphosyntactic aspects of BNCs as defined here, along with frequency, productivity, and competition between different strategies (cf. Rainer 2013), across a broad range of languages. In particular, papers are sought that investigate BNCs through:


– Studies of individual languages, especially lesser-studied and non-SAE languages

– Contrastive studies of languages, in particular those closely related genetically

– Typological and areal studies

– Studies that address cognitive aspects of complex nominal




Haspelmath, Martin. 2012. How to compare major word-classes across the world’s languages. UCLA Working Papers in Linguistics, Theories of Everything 17, Article 16. 109–130.

Rainer, Franz. 2013. Can relational adjectives really express any relation? An onomasiological perspective. SKASE Journal of Theoretical Linguistics 10(1).

Štekauer, Pavol. 1998. An onomasiological theory of English word-formation. Amsterdam: Benjamins.


2nd Call for Papers:


The workshop is planned as a part of the 50th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europea (SLE), which takes place in Zürich, 10-13 September 2017. We invite submissions of abstracts of 300 words (excluding references) outlining contributions to the workshop. Papers that highlight the permeability of the boundaries between compounding and syntax, and between compounding and derivation are especially welcome. These submissions should be emailed to the workshop organisers (stevepe@iln.uio.no and francesca.masini@unibo.it). After the organisers have decided which submissions will be accepted to the workshop, they will submit a workshop proposal with abstracts to the SLE organisers.


Important Dates:


6 November 2017: New deadline for submission of 300-word abstracts to the workshop organisers (stevepeiln.uio.no and francesca.masiniunibo.it)

25 November 2016: Notification of acceptance by the workshop organisers and submission of the workshop proposal to SLE

25 December 2016: Notification of acceptance of workshop proposals from SLE organisers to workshop organisers

15 January 2017: Submission of abstracts (taking into account any feedback from the reviewing procedure) for review by SLE

Date to be announced: Notification of acceptance of individual workshop contributions

10-13 September 2017: SLE conference



The full description of this workshop can be found at http://folk.uio.no/stevepe/WSproposal_SLE2017.pdf.



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