This paper considers the link between lexical category and lexical semantics, examining variation in the category of property concept (PC) words (Dixon, 1982; Thompson, 1989) — words introducing the descriptive content in translational equivalents of sentences whose main predicate is an adjective in languages with large open classes of them. Francez and Koontz-Garboden (2015) conjecture that nominal PC words might only have mass-type denotation (conceived in the spirit of Link 1983), as diagnosed by possession in predication (e.g., Kim has beauty/#Kim is beauty). In Basaá, a class of PC nominals we call substance nouns trigger possession in predication, while a class we call adjectival nouns do not, thereby falsifying Francez and Koontz-Garboden’s conjecture. We offer several diagnostics that confirm the substance denotation for the substance nouns, and an individual-characterizing denotation for the adjectival nouns, speculating on whether such nouns have a degree semantics, and whether they represent a crosslinguistically rare category or not.
October 1, 2018
Peter Jenks, Andrew Koontz-Garboden, and Emmanuel-Moselly Makasso, "On the lexical semantics of property concept nouns in Basaá", Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 21, University of Edinburgh, 4-6 September 2016, ed. by Robert Truswell, Chris Cummins, Caroline Heycock, Brian Rabern, and Hannah Rohde (2018), pp. 643-660