Semantics of event nouns

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Semantics of event nouns

 

Author: Wang, Shan
Title: Semantics of event nouns
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2013
Subject: Grammar, Comparative and general -- Noun.
Chinese language -- Semantics.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of Chinese and Bilingual Studies
Pages: xxx, 406 p. : ill. ; 30 cm.
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2653056
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/7260
Abstract: In the philosophy of language and formal semantics, it is often assumed that nouns denote entities and sentences denote propositions and events. This semantic dichotomy is maintained in the study of deverbal nouns, where the verb-like properties of process nominals are attributed to the verbs they derive from. However, non-derived nouns like simple event nominals are considered to behave similarly to result nominals. What kinds of nouns carry eventive information and what information it is are the concerns of this thesis. This thesis reveals the criteria that can identify event nouns in Mandarin Chinese, including event classifiers, event structure and light verbs. Then it divided event nouns into three categories: process nominals, instant nominals and pure event nouns. Based on the constraint-based linguistic model, it establishes an event-based noun classification system. The findings indicate that process nominals and pure event nouns have the same behavior; instant nominal behave similarly to process nominals and pure event nouns, except that they cannot be selected by aspectualizers and durative time expressions. Event nouns are typically compound nouns. The thesis explores their morpho-syntactic properties, semantic properties, event representation properties, and information inheritance properties.
This thesis enriches the type system of the Generative Lexicon theory through studying event nouns, including natural types, artifactual types, natural complex types and artifactual complex types. It then examines the qualia role contribution to these types and proposes a scale-based qualia role contribution system. To elaborate eventive information representation of event nouns, the above theoretical work is followed by a detailed analysis of 會議 huiyi 'meeting; conference', as a typical non-derived event noun based on the Generative Lexicon theory. The results demonstrate that non-derived event nouns can represent eventive information. They behave like a deverbal nominal very much and unlike an entity-referring noun. This thesis identifies and classifies different adjectival categories that are capable of modifying event nouns. Based on them, it establishes an eventive qualia structure through examining each qualia role's attributes and each attribute’s role values. It also examines which types of event nouns (NT, AT, NCT, ACT) that each adjectival category can modify. This thesis analyzes the compositional mechanisms at work in NN compounds when either the head or the modifier is an event noun. This analysis extends the usage of the compositional mechanisms of GL in two ways: (i) nominal head selection of a nominal modifier, and (ii) their usage in the nominal event domain. This thesis has also proposed a compositional mechanism sub-composition. The comprehensive exploration of event nouns in this thesis contributes to the research on eventive information of nouns as well as the development of the Generative Lexicon theory. The results also have implications for applications in natural language processing, language learning and lexicography.

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