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Modifier words in Kalamang: verbs or adjectives?

  • Eline Visser (Lund University)
Monday 24 September 2018
Descriptive and Anthropological Linguistics Discussion Group
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

Kalamang is a Papuan language spoken in East Indonesia.

I will present the behaviour of Kalamang modifier words like 'tall' and 'yellow', but also 'fallen' and 'afraid'. Modifier words can be used as predicates and as attributes, as can verbs. This is the main argument to treat all these words as verbs. Nevertheless, there are a few minor diagnostics that one could use to separate them from the word class of verbs and classify them as adjectives. For example, 'classical verbs' and 'classical adjectives' behave differently under reduplication, and get different semantics in combination with the verb 'to go'.

Crosslinguistically, it makes more sense to present words like 'tall' and 'yellow' as adjectives, and it is also a more transparent way to present the data. However, I think the data rather warrants a subclass of verbs. I would like to hear your opinion on this after having presented the data, especially from those of you who have been in a similar situation with their own work.

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