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Show full table of contents General properties of nominalization

This section briefly introduces four aspects that will be discussed in the following sections for all types of nominalization in Table 7. Furthermore, in order to avoid unneeded redundancy we will discuss a number of general restrictions concerning the types of verb that can be used as input for nominalization.

[+]  I.  The form of the derived noun

The subsections devoted to the morphological properties of derived nouns briefly discuss the affixes (suffixes or prefixes) used and the distribution and productivity of the morphological processes by which they are derived.

[+]  II.  The relation of the derived noun to the base verb

The subsections on the relation between the derived noun and the base verb are mainly concerned with the effects of the derivational process, in particular concerning the inheritance of arguments (with or without a selected preposition) and the semantic roles of these arguments. The discussions of these matters will only be brief, as a more extensive discussion can be found in Chapter 2.

[+]  III.  Restrictions on the derivational process

None of the nominalization processes in Table 7 is fully productive in the sense that it can take any (type of) main verb as input. Restrictions on the nominalization process relate to the type of input verb and, in some cases, to the thematic role(s) of the argument(s). It will be shown that the different types of deverbal noun impose different restrictions on the types of input verb they allow. For instance, whereas infinitival nominalizations (especially the bare ones) are almost fully productive, the process of er-nominalization is much more restricted, both in terms of type of input verb and in terms of the thematic role of the external argument (the subject) of the input verb. There exist also a number of general restrictions on the input verbs that are common to all types of nominalizations. Rather than discussing these in each of the following sections, the crucial points will be summarized here.

[+]  A.  Auxiliary and modal verbs

The perfect auxiliaries hebben and zijn and modal verbs like kunnen'to be able' allow only infinitival nominalization. Some examples are given in (102). The primeless examples are bare-inf nominalizations: in these cases the complements of the input verb appears as a noun phrase to the left of the derived nouns. The primed examples are det-inf nominalizations: in these cases the complements of the input verb appears as a postnominal van-PP. All other types of nominalization resist the auxiliary and modal verbs as their input.

Example 102
a. [Zoʼn boek gelezen hebben] is niet genoeg om je taalkundige te noemen.
  such a book  read  have  is not enough  to yourself linguist  to call
  'To have read such a book isnʼt enough to call yourself a linguist.'
a'. [Het gelezen hebben van zoʼn boek ] is ...
  the  read  have  of such a book  is
  'Having read such a book is ...'
b. [Met een vrachtauto kunnen rijden] is een voorwaarde voor deze baan.
  with a truck  be able  drive  is a requirement for this job
  'To be able to drive a truck is a condition for this job.'
b'. [Het kunnen rijden met een vrachtauto] is een voorwaarde voor deze baan.
  the  be.able drive  with a truck  is a requirement for this job
  'Being able to drive a truck is a condition for this job.'
[+]  B.  Copular verbs

Copular verbs allow only infinitival nominalization. As can be seen from the examples in (103), the predicate normally precedes the noun both in bare-inf and in det-inf nominalizations. It is nevertheless not hard to find on the internet det-inf nominalization in which a nominal predicate is realized as a postnominal van-PP; cf. (103a'). Realizing of a non-nominal predicate as a postverbal van-PP, as in (103b'), is categorically impossible.

Example 103
a. [(Het) moslim zijn] is niet gemakkelijk in de Westerse wereld.
  the  Muslim be  is not easy  in the Western world
  'Being a Muslim isnʼt easy in the Western world.'
a'. % [Het zijn van (een) moslim] is niet gemakkelijk in de Westerse wereld.
  the  be  of    a  Muslim is not easy  in the Western world
  'Being a Muslim isnʼt easy in the Western world.'
b. [(Dat) ziek zijn] is geen pretje.
  that  ill  be  is no  fundim
  'Being ill is no fun.'
b'. * [Het/Dat zijn van ziek] is geen pretje.
  the/that  be  of  ill  is no  fundim
[+]  C.  Raising verbs

So-called raising verbs like schijnen/lijken'to seem' and blijken'to appear' are categorically rejected as input verbs for nominalization; cf., e.g., Booij (1986b). As shown by (104), the ban on nominalization extends to infinitival nominalization, regardless of whether Subject Raising has taken place, as in (104b'), or not, as in (104a').

Example 104
a. Het schijnt dat Jan ziek is.
  it  seems  that  Jan ill  is
  'It seems that Jan is ill.'
a'. * (het) schijnen dat Jan ziek is
  the  seem  that  Jan ill  is
b. dat Jan ziek schijnt te zijn.
  that  Jan  ill  seems  to be
  'that Jan seems to be ill.'
b'. * (het) ziek schijnen te zijn van Jan
  the  ill  seem  to be  of Jan
[+]  D.  Object-experiencer verbs

None of the nominalization types can take object-experiencer verbs as their input. Object-experiencer verbs can be divided into two groups, depending on the case assigned to the non-nominative argument in languages like German, which do express case morphologically (cf. Den Besten 1985 and references cited there): with the nom-dat verbs (cf. Section V2.1.3), the object is assigned dative case, whereas with nom-acc verbs, the object is assigned accusative case (cf. Section V2.5.1.3). Neither of these types can be nominalized.
      Nom-dat verbs like lukken'to succeed' and spijten'to regret' in (105) and (106) are dyadic unaccusative verbs, whose nominative argument is not an agent but a theme (it is the object experienced). They take an experiencer NP-complement that appears in the dative case. As is shown by the primed examples, these verbs cannot be the input for bare/det-inf, ing- or ge-nominalizations.

Example 105
a. Al zijn plannen lukken hem.
  all his plans  succeed  him
  'He succeeds in all his plans.'
b. * [(Het) hem lukken van al zijn plannen] is nogal irritant.
  the  him  succeed  of all his plans  is rather annoying
c. * [De hem lukking van al zijn plannen] is nogal irritant.
  the  him  succeeding  of all his plans  is rather annoying
d. * [Het hem geluk van al zijn plannen] verheugde hem.
  the  him  succeeding  of all his plans  delighted him
Example 106
a. Zijn laffe gedrag speet hem zeer.
  his cowardly behavior  regretted  him much
  'He regretted his cowardly behavior very much.'
b. * [(Het) hem spijten van zijn laffe gedrag] is niet oprecht.
  the  him regret  of his cowardly behavior  is not sincere
c. * [De hem spijting van zijn laffe gedrag] is niet oprecht.
  the  him  regretting  of his cowardly behavior  is not sincere
d. * [Het hem gespijt van zijn laffe gedrag] is nooit oprecht.
  the  him  regretting  of his cowardly behavior  is never sincere

Er-nominalization is also excluded, which is of course due to the fact that the resulting noun must refer to the agent of the input verb, which is lacking with these verbs. So even for those nom-dat verbs that have a +human subject, er-nominalization is excluded. This is illustrated in (107) for the nom-dat verbs opvallen'to strike' and bevallen'to please'.

Example 107
a. De man viel haar op (door zijn gedrag).
  the man  struck  her  prt.   by his behavior
  'The man struck her (because of his behavior).'
a'. * een haar opvaller (door zijn gedrag)
  her  strik-er   by his behavior
b. De nieuwe werknemer beviel ons goed.
  the new employee  pleased  us  well
  'We were pleased with the new employee.'
b'. * een ons goede bevaller
  an  us  good  pleas-er

      The nom-acc verbs, which are also known as psych-verbs, take an accusative object. As in the case of nom-dat verbs, the object has the thematic role of experiencer (it is the argument who experiences the psychological state denoted by the verb), while the subject does not perform the role of agent. Examples with the psych-verbs amuseren'to amuse' and ergeren'to irritate' are given in (108) and (109). As can be seen, neither bare/det-inf nor ing- nor ge-nominalization of these verbs is possible.

Example 108
a. Dat boek/Hij amuseerde mij zeer.
  that book/he  amused  me  much
b. * [(Het) mij amuseren van/door dat boek/hem] was de bedoeling.
  the  me  amuse  of/by the book/him  was the intention
c. * [De amusering van/door dat boek/hem] was de bedoeling.
  the  amusing  of/by  the book/him  was the intention
d. * [Zijn geamuseer van mij] was de bedoeling.
  his  amusing  of me  was the intention
Example 109
a. * Dat boek/Hij ergert Marie.
  that book/he  irritates  Marie
b. * [(Het) Marie ergeren van/door dat boek/hem] verbaast mij.
  the  Marie irritate  of/by  that book/him  surprises  me
c. * [De ergering van Marie van/door dat boek/hem] verbaast mij.
  the  irritating  of Marie  of/by  that book/him  surprises  me
d. * [Zijn ge-erger van Marie] verbaast mij.
  his  irritating  of Marie  surprises  me

As in the case of nom-dat verbs, nom-acc verbs cannot constitute the input to er-nominalization. This is shown in (110) for the +human versions of examples (108a) and (109b). These examples again suggest that it is the lack of agentivity of the subject that plays a role here, and not the animacy of the subject.

Example 110
a. * een <mij> amuseerder <van mij>
    me  amus-er     of me
b. * een <Marie> ergeraar <van Marie>
    Marie  irritat-er     of Marie
[+]  IV.  The degree of verbalness/nominalness of the nominalization

Nominalization results in forms that have the syntactic distribution of a noun. However, these forms retain a number of the syntactic and semantic characteristics of the input verb. They are in a sense a hybrid category, partly nominal and partly verbal. For each type of nominalization, we will discuss the degree of verbalness/nominalness on the basis of the features in Table 8; cf. Dik (1985a), and also Hoekstra & Wehrmann (1985).

Table 8: Verbal and nominal characteristics of nominalizations
verbal properties presence of arguments
  prenominal theme/recipient with objective case
  prenominal recipient-PP
  adverbial modification
nominal properties adjectival modification
  theme with genitive case
  theme/recipient realized as postnominal PP

It will turn out that er-nominalizations come closest to what may be thought of as prototypical nouns in the sense that they have all the relevant nominal properties, with the addition of one verbal feature, namely the presence of arguments. Bare infinitival nominalizations, on the other hand, retain almost all verbal features, while exhibiting none of the listed nominal characteristics. They are nominal in the sense that they have the distribution of nouns and that they lack the grammatical features of verbs such as tense or number agreement. The other types of nominalizations hold an intermediate position. The overall picture of nominal and verbal characteristics of deverbal nouns is presented in Section

  • Besten, Hans den1985The ergative hypothesis and free word order in Dutch and GermanToman, Jindřich (ed.)Studies in German GrammarDordrecht/CinnaminsonForis Publications23-65
  • Booij, Geert1986Form and meaning in morphology: the case of Dutch 'agent nouns'Linguistics24503-518
  • Dik, Simon C1985Nederlandse nominalisaties in een Functionele GrammaticaForum der Letteren2681-107
  • Hoekstra, Teun & Wehrmann, Pim1985De nominale infinitiefGLOT8257-275
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