Quantification, definiteness, and nominalization

Quantification, definiteness, and nominalization. Ed. by Anastasia Giannakidou and Monika Rathert. (Oxford studies in theoretical linguistics 24.) Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. Pp. xvi, 413. ISBN 9780199541096. $55.

Reviewed by Dimitrios Ntelitheos, United Arab Emirates University

This book is a collection of updated versions of fifteen talks presented in a workshop on QP Structure, Nominalizations, and the role of DP at Saarland University in December 2005. The collection is introduced by the editors’ thorough overview of quantifiers and definiteness in recent syntactic theory. The book is divided into three parts exploring connections between quantification, definiteness, and nominalization.

The first part starts with an article by Lisa Matthewson analyzing the element –nukw in St’at’imcets as assuming a presuppositional element to the semantic definition of the item. Lisa Lai-Shen Cheng explores the cooccurrence of Chinese mei ‘every’ with dou ‘all’ and reduplicated classifiers, relying on selectional/interpretive differences in Mandarin and Cantonese classifiers. Urtzi Etxeberria discusses contextually restricted quantification in Basque, showing that quantifiers are restricted by both nominal restriction and the presence of Q-determiners. Luisa Martí argues from contextual restrictions that the Spanish indefinite algunos introduces a contextual variable and proposes a hierarchical organization of the basic building blocks of indefinites. Kook-Hee Gil and George Tsoulas discuss quantification and DP/QP structure in Korean and Japanese, addressing the status of classifiers and indeterminate quantification.

The second part of the book starts with Louise McNally’s article arguing that there is room for semantic variation within property-based analyses of existentials. There-existential predicates are better analyzed as involving true property predications and not semantic incorporation. Donka Farkas and Henriëtte de Swart extend a previous analysis of crosslinguistic variation in article choice in generic and non-generic contexts. Amim von Stechow introduces a new positive operator Pos (a universal quantifier over degrees) to derive the semantics of German temporal adjectives by viewing times as ‘degrees’. Helen de Hoop proposes that animacy affects the ‘prominence’ of noun phrases, thereby contributing to the interpretation of animate noun phrases similarly to definiteness.

The final part, on nominalizations, begins with Artemis Alexiadou’s discussion of the role of syntactic locality in morphological processes. Using data from Greek derived nominals, the author distinguishes verbalizers from projections that introduce arguments and shows that result nominals and nominals with argument structure share the same basic verbal structure. Manfred Bierwisch treats nominalizations as syntactically and semantically conditioned lexical phenomena. Heidi Harley explores the internal structure of event nominalizations based on the properties of verb-particle constructions and proposing an analysis of verbalizing morphemes as underspecified spell-outs of an eventive v head. Thomas Roeper and Angeliek van Hout treat   –ability nominalizations on par with passive structures based on thematic restrictions on the DP-specifier position. Finally, Tal Siloni and Omer Preminger address crosslinguistic restrictions on voice alternations within nominalizations.

The volume is an essential reference on the syntax and semantics of quantification, nominalization, and definiteness. The breadth of empirical coverage and the unique explorations of the interfaces between syntax, semantics, and the lexicon make this volume important reading for specialists, as well as graduate students interested in the nominal domain.