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Alexander Carr

Research student,


I am an ESRC-funded postgraduate researcher in the Centre of Language and Communication Research (CLCR). I completed a BA in English Language (2015-18) and an MA in Language and Communication Research (2018-19) from Cardiff University. My research interests include categorization, lexical semantics and functional grammar, with a particular focus on the classification of nominality and the expression of event semantics in nominal form. My PhD thesis, supervised by Lise Fontaine, proposes to expand our conception of the nature and degree of nominality, through exploring how nominals express temporal semantics, with specific attention provided to underived event nominals, i.e. nouns which express event semantics which have not derived from a verb, e.g. storm, fire, death.


Research interests

My research focuses on the nature and degree of nominality. While it is widely accepted that nouns and verbs constitute two separate lexical classes, this distinction has been shown to be unsatisfactory due to variably applied criteria which inconsistently mix morphology, syntax and semantics (Lyons 1977:423). For example, one problem is that semantic distinctions such as event vs object are not reliable, e.g. the noun ‘fire’ behaves verbally, like a deverbal noun, but this meaning is not inherited from a verb (Vendler 1967:141). Hanks (2013:73) suggests that lexical items, in isolation, do not possess inherent meaning, but “meaning potential”, which is activated when placed in a context. In the field of Lexical Semantics, the analysis of word meaning from the ‘Semasiological’ perspective provides a beneficial heuristic to view the various meanings a nominal can express. By exploring the multidimensional interconnections of meaning within lexical items, we can examine how such nominals can express both event and object semantics. Nevertheless, while this analysis has allowed us to explore the semantics of nominals at a level that cannot be attained from only looking at classifications of lexical class, it does not explicitly provide us with empirical data on how the semantics of these nominals generally behave.Therefore, the aims of this research are threefold: (1) to determine how the nature and degree of nominality can be evaluated, (2) to determine how object, state, and event meaning come to be expressed in nominal forms and (3) to examine the relationship between the syntactic behaviour and the semantic properties of underived event nominals (UENs).


An Empirical Investigation into The Nature and Degree of Nominality

Funding source