Article published in:Finiteness and Nominalization
Edited by Claudine Chamoreau and Zarina Estrada-Fernández
[Typological Studies in Language 113] 2016
► pp. 205–242
The role of nominalization in theticity
A Sikuani contribution
When speakers need to communicate a piece of information in which they allocate all the components the same degree of informational density – especially the components expressing the state of the world described and the entities associated with it – they rely on linguistic mechanisms that may differ radically from those employed in speech-acts that involve a rhematic element (rather dense informationally) linked to a thematic element (rather thin informationally). In languages where existential predication does not require a verb of existence with the subject as the thematic element, this type of construction is well adapted to the thetic communicative intention, since it is organized around a noun phrase conveying rhematic information that is not connected to any thematic element apart from the world, or the situation. Since this element is not instantiated linguistically, or at least not by expressions capable of referring, the structure of this kind of existential predication is monadic. This is the most striking difference between the formal correlates of thetic constructions and those of the dyadic construction with rheme and theme. The Sikuani language makes a great deal of use of verb nominalization machinery (which provides a way to combine in the most parsimonious way the state of affairs described and the entities associated with it) in order to fulfill the goal of thetic communication. In particular, by playing with these mechanisms this language manages to modulate the degree of semantic reification of the state of the world described by the nominalized verb. Consequently a nominalized form with a thetic function becomes able to express semantic configurations (events, states, etc.) similar to those normally expressed by finite verbs.
Keywords: existential predication, finiteness, nominal predication, nominalization, theticity
Published online: 23 June 2016
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