Article published in:Lexical flexibility in Oceanic languages
Edited by Eva van Lier
[Studies in Language 41:2] 2017
► pp. 521–542
Describing lexical flexibility in Caac (New Caledonia)
Like other New Caledonian languages (see Ozanne-Rivierre 1998: 33–34 for Nyelâyu; see Bril 2002: 89–95, 2009, this volume for Nêlêmwa; see also Moyse-Faurie 2004: 15–61), Caac displays little categorial flexibility and, based on formal grounds, one can clearly identify two main syntactic categories: nouns and verbs, in addition to other small classes such as adverbs, adjectives or prepositions. Nouns, however, have the ability to be polyfunctional, and can function as the head of referential expressions as well as the head of predicative expressions in equative constructions, and in a certain type of presentative and spatial constructions, without undergoing any morphological change. By contrast, verbs require deverbal derivation in order to function as the head of referential expressions, a process mainly used for word creation purposes. There is in addition a small number of lexical bases which can function as the head of predicative and referential expressions indifferently. An analysis of the syntactic context in which they occur enables us to interpret them in a particular utterance. Similar lexemes in neighbouring languages have been analysed as flexible lexemes (Bril 2009: 2; in press). In this paper, I would like to explore the extent to which those lexemes can be differentiated from nouns (notably indirectly possessed free nouns) and verbs in Caac, depending on whether one puts the emphasis on formal or semantic criteria.
Keywords: parts of speech, lexical flexibility, Caac, New Caledonian/Kanak languages, Oceanic languages
Published online: 05 October 2017
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