Wednesday, April 27, 2005

generic possessives vs. compounds

wow, it's been a long time. is this going to be a log or what? i got distracted by that SULA conference.

okay, let's think a little bit about generic possessives and compounds. what properties do they have in common, and what properties are different?

both compounds and generic possessives are intensional. in a sense, they lack a certain existence entailment that they could conceivably have. for example, a butcher's knife need not be related to any actual, existing butcher. similarly, a particular coffee grinder need not have ever ground coffee, and someone can be a meat-eater without having ever touched meat. in this respect generic possessives and compounds differ from incorporation structures that have been claimed. van geenhoven 1998, for example, shows that in west greenlandic, incorporating an object into a verb generally leads to existential quantification over the domain introduced by the object.

discourse properties?

differences: all the things which make a generic possessive different from a compound: the ability to contain phrases, presence of morphemes and function words, stress patterns, etc.

possible difference: compounds can contain an object and still denote a kind:

bush administration

the bush administration
a satan worshipper

but not

*the john's book


a darwin's finch
the dr. scholl's shoes