The -ing dynasty: Rebuilding the semantics of nominalizations

Scott Grimm, Louise McNally


The nature of -ing nominals has been widely debated since the early days of generative grammar (e.g. Lees 1960, Chomsky 1970), and at least since Vendler (1967), -ing forms also have played a central role in debates over natural language ontology for abstract objects. This paper attempts to simplify the ontology and account for the uses and interpretations a wide range of -ing forms using only a distinction between event types and event tokens. A core insight will be that the different constructions reflect different paths by which the -ing form may come to have type or token reference. A central contrast present among these different paths involves whether the event types/tokens are individuated through nominal morphology or through temporal anchoring.

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