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Reviewed by:
  • Nominalization in Formosan Languages
  • Lawrence A. Reid
Elizabeth Zeitoun , ed. 2002. Nominalization in Formosan Languages. In Language and Linguistics 3(2) (Special Issue) (ISSN: 1606-822X). Taipei: Institute of Linguistics (Preparatory Office), Academia Sinica.

This volume is a collection of ten papers focusing on various aspects of nominalization in Formosan languages from different theoretical perspectives. (Two of the languages discussed are not actually Formosan: Yami is spoken on an island to the southeast of Taiwan and subgroups genetically with the Philippines, and Tagalog is, of course, a Philippine language.) The papers are the output of a workshop of the [End Page 546] same name held at Academic Sinica in Taipei, October 21-22, 2000. This is an important contribution to the rapidly growing literature on Formosan (and Philippine) linguistics, not only because of the highly focused nature of the studies, enabling comparisons to be drawn with similar phenomena in other languages of the groups, but also because several of the studies are on highly endangered or nearly extinct languages. Following the papers on nominalization is a careful review by Elizabeth Zeitoun of the recently published Pazih Dictionary by Paul Jen-kuei Li and Shigeru Tsuchida. The volume should be on the shelves of any linguist concerned with the analysis and description of these languages. It is in general well edited, although typographical errors appear periodically throughout. The remainder of this review consists of evaluations of each of the papers in the volume.

D. Victoria Rau's "Nominalization in Yami" (165-196), is a well-written paper providing a succinct account of various nominalization processes in Yami within the context of a brief overview of the syntax of the language, characterized by her as showing morphological ergativity. Rau first outlines the processes involved in the formation of nouns from different lexical categories, by, for example, reduplication of nouns to form plural nouns, or of verbs to form instrumental nouns. She then discusses the use of various so-called focus affixes, to wit, the well-known mi-/ma- (AF), -en (PF), -an (LF), and i- (IF) types, as well as the prefix ka-, to form participant nominals from verbs. Various other nominalization types, for example, of nouns from numerals and from other nouns, are exemplified. The following section discusses action nominals using ka-, which occur following case markers, and compares these forms with similar ka- forms that are either marked for recent past, or sequential activity, and an adjectival ka- form that indicates degree of strength. Although she is nonspecific about the other functions of ka-, Rau treats sequential ka- forms explicitly as nominal, because A nominals following them are encoded as genitive, and O nominals are encoded as oblique. Gerundive or clausal nominatives are discussed within the context of content questions, in which such forms occur as the subject, while the question word is the predicate of the sentence, and within the context of relative clauses, in which such forms occur either preceding the modified noun to form a nonrestrictive relative clause, or following it to form a restrictive relative clause.

An interesting feature of Yami syntax is the variable position of genitive pronouns. Typically they occur after a nominal in a modified noun phrase. They likewise occur immediately following a transitive verb to mark the A of that verb, and they occur immediately following a nominalized verb marked by ka-. However, in some constructions, the pronoun is fronted to a position immediately preceding an action nominal but following initial elements such as time adverbs, conforming to a second position rule. Finally, in what R describes as "nonnarrative, involved style" (186), the pronoun may occur at the beginning of the sentence. These three positions Rau considers to represent three stages in the development of indicative verbs from nominalizations, and a transition from complete "nouniness" to complete "verbiness," with the intervening stage being ambiguous as to whether the form is a noun or a verb. She notes that nominative pronouns marking the A of intransitive sentences are following the same trajectory of development, with Yami moving from a head-initial to a head-final language. [End Page 547]

Lillian M. Huang's "Nominalization in Mayrinax Atayal" (197-226) and Paul...