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Jan Rijkhoff

Verbs and nouns from a cross-linguistic perspective

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  • Section for Linguistics
It has often been claimed that all languages have major, distinct classes of verbs and nouns (see e.g. Robins 1967: 211; Schachter 1985: 6–7; Whaley 1997: 59). There is, however, growing evidence to suggest that the verb-noun distinction is scalar rather than discrete (Ross 1972, 1973), and that in some languages this distinction is perhaps even altogether absent (e.g. Kinkade 1983; Gil 1994, 2000; Broschart 1997; Hengeveld 1992a, 1992b). For a recent typological overview of ‘scales between nouniness and verbiness’ I refer to Sasse (2001a). This contribution is mostly concerned with languages in which the verb-noun distinction is believed to be weak, perhaps even non-existent, as well as languages in which verbs or nouns only constitute a minor word class (sections 1-4). Regarding languages that are deemed to have a solid verb-noun distinction, I will argue that verbs and nouns (as well as noun phrases and clauses) can be analyzed in a similar fashion (section 5).
Original languageEnglish
JournalRivista di Linguistica
Pages (from-to)115-147
Number of pages33
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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