E. van Lier
- Flexible word classes: typological studies of underspecified parts of speech
- Number of pages
- Oxford: Oxford University Press
- Document type
- Book editing
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication (ACLC)
This book is the first major cross-linguistic study of ‘flexible words’, i.e. words that cannot be classified in terms of the traditional lexical categories Verb, Noun, Adjective or Adverb. This is because flexible words can -without special morphosyntactic marking- serve in functions for which other languages must employ members of two or more of the four traditional, ‘specialised’ word classes. Thus, flexible words are underspecified for communicative functions like ‘predicating’ (verbal function), ‘referring’ (nominal function) or ‘modifying’ (a function typically associated with adjectives and e.g. manner adverbs). Even though languages with flexible word classes have been know to exist for more than a century, the phenomenon of lexical flexibility has not played a role in the development of linguistic typology or modern grammatical theory. The current volume aims to remedy this situation by offering ten detailed studies on lexical word classes, investigating their properties and what it means for the grammar of a language to have such a word class. Each contributor to this volume is an expert on lexical flexibility, either because the author has studied lexical flexibility in a particular language, or because (s)he has investigated flexible word classes across languages. Furthermore, this collection of articles provides a variety of theoretical perspectives on the phenomenon of lexical flexibility. The book shows that the recognition and study of flexible words adds significantly to our understanding of the nature of human language and its place in human cognition.
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