[Colloquium] Root and Word Level Categories in Early Austronesian

This is an online event, and registration is required. Please register here, and the Zoom link to the talk will be emailed to you
Root level categorization is an oft-neglected area in language description and this is true for the Austronesian languages as much as any other family. In previous work, I have explored the surprisingly nominal character of both full words and roots in Philippine languages. In this talk, I explore to what extent nominalism on the root level exists outside of the Philippines and to what extent nominalism at any level holds true for Formosan languages. This area is of particular historical importance as the reinterpretation of nominalizations as main clause predicates is the defining feature of Ross's (2009) Nuclear Austronesian subgroup. I discuss a challenge to this idea from Blust & Chen (2017), who argue that what Ross and others take to be a distinction between verbs and thematic nominalizations has nothing to do with lexical category and that the purported nominalizations were likely verbal from the earliest reconstructable stage. Here, I defend the idea that the reinterpretation of embedded nominalizations as main clause predicates is cross-linguistically well-attested and aligns perfectly well with the Austronesian facts. In contrast, the origin of (patient-oriented) nominalism on the root level, as found in most modern Philippine languages, remains mysterious and is potentially unrelated to changes in the higher-level morphosyntax.
Please contact Yi-Yang Cheng (ycheng@ucsb.edu) for any questions about the talk