Episodic-ee in English: A thematic role constraint on new word formation

Christian Barker

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    This article offers a detailed analysis of the English suffix -ee (employee, escapee, refugee, etc.) based on fifteen hundred naturally occurring tokens of some five hundred word types. The data suggest that formation of nouns in -ee is moderately but genuinely productive, and that analyses based on the syntactic argument structure of the stem verb are unsatisfactory. Instead, formation of -ee nouns systematically adheres to three essentially semantic constraints: first, the referent of an -ee noun must be sentient; second, the denotation of an -ee noun must be episodically linked (as defined below) to the denotation of its stem; and third, a use of an -ee noun entails a relative lack of volitional control on the part of its referent. I argue that these semantic constraints taken together amount to a special-purpose thematic role that actively constrains productive use of derivational morphology.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)695-727
    Number of pages33
    JournalLanguage
    Volume74
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Dec 1998

    Fingerprint

    semantics
    refugee
    employee
    lack
    Thematic Roles
    Nouns
    Word Formation
    New Words
    Referent
    Denotation

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Language and Linguistics
    • Linguistics and Language

    Cite this

    Episodic-ee in English : A thematic role constraint on new word formation. / Barker, Christian.

    In: Language, Vol. 74, No. 4, 12.1998, p. 695-727.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Barker, Christian. / Episodic-ee in English : A thematic role constraint on new word formation. In: Language. 1998 ; Vol. 74, No. 4. pp. 695-727.
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