Gerundive nominals in Malagasy

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    In this paper, I provide a novel syntactic analysis of nominalizations in Malagasy (Western Austronesian). Malagasy has a nominalizing prefix f-that derives action and abstract nominalizations when attached to the circumstantial voice form of the verb. These nominals exhibit mixed verbal and nominal properties, and their interpretation is often ambiguous between an eventive or a circumstantial meaning. This has led to the assumption that these nominals are formed in the lexicon or a "lexical" syntactic component of syntax: "l-syntax" (Paul 1996). I show that f-nominalizations in Malagasy can in fact be divided into a class of nominals that exhibit mainly nominal properties ("result nominals" in the terminology of Grim-shaw 1990), and a second, productive, class of nominals that exhibit internal verbal properties. In order to capture these properties, I propose that gerundive f-nominals are formed in the syntactic component with the nominalizer f-projecting a nominal inflection phrase replacing the tense inflection that appears in finite clauses (cf. also Baker 2005). The analysis maintains the intuition in traditional Malagasy grammars that the nominalizer f-replaces tense (Dez 1980:102; Fugier 1999:43), and predicts that all verbal functional projections below tense should be present, while all clausal projections above tense should be absent. For result gerundive nominals, I assume a lower site of attachment for the nominalizer, and thus the fact that these nominals exhibit less verbal and more nominal properties is attributed to the lack of the relevant verbal functional projections.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)389-406
    Number of pages18
    JournalOceanic Linguistics
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2010

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Language and Linguistics
    • Linguistics and Language


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