Nominalization in Asian languages

Nominalization in Asian languages: Diachronic and typological perspectives. Ed. by Foong Ha Yap, Karen Grunow-Hårsta, and Janick Wrona. (Typological studies in language 96.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2011. Pp. xvii, 796. ISBN 9789027206770. $158 (Hb).

Reviewed by Linda Konnerth, University of Oregon

This volume includes twenty-six articles on various aspects of nominalization in languages of greater Asia. The first chapter (Foong Ha Yap, Karen Grunow-Hårsta, and Janick Wrona) introduces the comparative and diachronic perspective of the volume. Research questions revolve around the recurrent nominalization-relativization-genitivization syncretism and the directionality of grammaticalization, the reanalysis of nominalizers as finite markers of tense-aspect-mood, standalone nominalization functioning as stance constructions (i.e. marking the speaker’s attitude towards the respective utterance), the relationship between nominalization and focus marking, and the development of nominalizers to clausal subordinators (often marking conditionals). Noun phrase markers functioning as nominalizers are also discussed, as well as the grammaticalization from light nouns to nominalizers, and demonstratives functioning as referentiality markers.

Four chapters deal with Sinitic languages. Foong Ha Yap and Jiao Wang provide a diachronic study of two light nouns developing into nominalizers between Old and Modern Chinese. Hui Ling Xu and Stephen Matthews and Joanna Ut-Seong Sio discuss the polyfunctionality of kai in Chaozhou (Min) and of ge3 in Cantonese, respectively. Sze-Wing Tang argues for the less grammaticalized status of the Cantonese ge3 compared to the Mandarin de.

A substantial section on Tibeto-Burman (TB) starts off with a typological summary of the structure of TB nominalization by Carol Genetti. Michael Noonan discusses diachronic developments of nominalizing constructions in Tamangic languages, while Karen Grunow-Hårsta focuses on further developments of nominalization constructions in Magar. Mark W. Post offers a structural and diachronic analysis of nominalization-based constructions in Galo. Stephen Morey shows how clausal nominalization in Numhpuk Singpho lacks the diversity in form and function often found in TB. Hongyong Liu and Yang Gu discuss two nominalization constructions in Nuosu Yi. Finally, Scott DeLancey argues that recurring grammaticalization of nominalization-based constructions into new finite constructions is the major source of synchronic finite constructions, including sentence-final particles, in TB.

For Iranian, Geoffrey Haig revisits the ‘Ezafe’ or linker particle in West Iranian, and suggests a nominalization-based construction as the original source. In a section on Korean and Japanese, Seongha Rhee contributes a semanto-pragmatic investigation of nominalization-based stance-marking constructions in Korean. With diachronic Japanese and crosslinguistic data, Janick Wrona argues that standalone-nominalization constructions are not necessarily preceded by nominalization-plus-copula constructions, but may develop independently. Rumiko Shinzato traces the development of a versatile nominalization construction in Okinawan. Kaoru Horie compares the relative versatility of the main Japanese and Korean nominalizers.

The Austronesian articles begin with Fuhui Hsieh’s discussion of two functionally overlapping nominalization constructions in Kavalan. Li-May Sung and Marie Mei-li Yeh discuss the syntax and semantics including the nominal and verbal features of nominalization constructions in Budai Rukai and Saisiyat, respectively. Naonori Nagaya argues for a recurrent grammaticalization path from referential to non-referential, less nominal constructions in Tagalog and related languages. Foong Ha Yap offers an analysis of the slightly overlapping functional and structural landscape of three nominalizers in Malay. The nominal basis of exclamative constructions is analyzed by Eric Potsdam with Malagasy data and by Daniel Kaufman with his study of exclamatives and temporal subordinate clauses across Austronesian. Frantisek Lichtenberk provides an overview of nominalization in Oceanic and discusses two nominalization constructions in Toqabaqita. The book’s concluding article is by František Kratochvíl on the grammaticalization of ‘say’ and demonstratives to markers of evidentiality and assertion in Abui (Papuan).