English Compounds and Russian Relational Adjectives

Author: 
Date created: 
2004-06-08
Keywords: 
deverbal compounds
genitive construction
head nouns
Abstract: 

English noun-noun compounds are often translated into Russian as relational adjective-noun
constructions with the adjective parallel in function to the non-head noun of a compound. However, a large subclass of English compounds which are sometimes referred to as ‘deverbal’ do not have a relational adjective-noun equivalent in Russian. In deverbal compounds (e.g. van driver), as opposed to so-called ‘root’ compounds (e.g. bookstore), the head noun is derived from a verb and the non-head noun is interpreted as an internal argument of the head noun. In Russian, the same meaning is expressed by means of a genitive construction. It is proposed that this restriction is due to the morphological difference between English compounds and Russian relational
adjective-noun constructions. Following Chomsky (1970) and others, nouns derived from transitive verbs may retain the internal arguments of their base verbs. Kayne (1981) shows that internal arguments may only be expressed as DPs and never as APs. Assuming that internal arguments are realized within the lowest maximal projection of
their heads (Williams, 1981), adjectives may not express internal arguments because they are adjuncts and as such are realized outside of the lowest maximal projection. Thus, in English deverbal compounds, the non-head member can express an internal argument, whereas it is impossible in Russian since the non-head member of the construction is an adjective.

Language: 
English
Document type: 
Conference presentation
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