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Tense as a Nominal Category

Rachel Nordlinger and Louisa Sadler
Melbourne University and University of Essex


Recent work in morphology in LFG (Nordlinger 1998, Sadler 1998, Barron 1998) has highlighted the fact that NPs in some languages inflect for the traditionally verbal categories of tense, aspect or mood (henceforth TAM). This phenomenon is extremely problematic for head-driven approaches such as HPSG, which assumes that clause-level information will be associated with clausal heads, and not with nominal arguments or adjuncts. In this paper we show first that the phenomenon of TAM-inflected nominals is well established and not typologically marginal. We discuss data from a range of typologically diverse languages and show that such data cannot simply be reanalysed to fit head-driven approaches, but demand an analysis in which clause-level information such as TAM is directly contributed by nominal arguments. We then go on to show how the correspondence architecture of LFG, and particularly the constructive morphology approach currently being developed within it (Nordlinger 1998, Sadler 1998, Barron 1998, Sells 1998, Lee 1999, Sharma 1999) permits a simple and natural analysis of these data, which are extremely problematic for other formal approaches. This approach not only provides an explanatory account for the cross-linguistic phenomenon of tense as a nominal category, but also highlights one of the strengths of LFG in contrast with head-driven frameworks.



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