Linguistics Colloquium: Gabi Danon
Gabi Danon, Bar-Ilan University
Title: Ambiguity in genitives headed by functional nouns: Towards a structural analysis
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Abstract: Genitives denoting functions or relations — lexical or contextual — are pervasive and are often taken to be the dominant type of genitive DP. In this paper we look at a puzzling kind of genitive which seems to denote the inverse of the function lexically associated with the genitive’s nominal head. Thus, while a noun like weight can be seen as a function from individuals to measures (as in e.g., the weight of this suitcase), a genitive phrase like a weight of 20kg seems to denote the inverse of this function, mapping a measure (20kg) to a property of individuals. The question to be discussed is whether the same syntactic structure is involved in both ‘regular’ functional/relational genitives (henceforth Direct Genitive, DG) and Inverse Function Genitives (IFGs). We argue that despite the surface similarity, the two are syntactically distinct; and more generally, that genitives denoting nominal modification — which IFGs are argued to be an instance of — have a different structure than genitives denoting a relation between individuals. This structural duality is shown to hold in different genitive constructions, hence highlighting the importance of distinguishing two major subtypes of genitives that often share a similar or identical surface form.
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