Abstract

It is a general assumption in linguistic theory that the categories of tense, aspect, and mood (TAM) are inflectional categories of verbal classes only. In a number of languages around the world, however, nominals and other NP constituents are also inflected for these categories. In this article we provide a comprehensive survey of tense/aspect/mood marking on NP constituents across the world's languages. Two distinct types are identified: PROPOSITIONAL NOMINAL TAM, whereby the nominal carries TAM information relevant to the whole proposition, and INDEPENDENT NOMINAL TAM, in which the TAM information encoded on the nominal is relevant only to the NP on which it is markedÑindependent of the TAM of the clause as a whole. We illustrate these different types and their various properties using data from a wide range of languages showing that, while certainly unusual, the phenomenon of nominal tense/aspect/mood marking is far less marginal than is standardly assumed. Nominal TAM inflection must be accepted as a real possibility in universal grammatical structure, having significant implications for many aspects of linguistic theory.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 776-806
Launched on MUSE
2004-12-27
Open Access
No
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