On the lexical semantics of property concept nouns in Basaá


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.

Peter Jenks
Andrew Koontz-Garboden
Emmanuel-Moselly Makasso
Publication date: 
October 1, 2018
Publication type: 
Recent Publication
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