Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 1: 7 November 2001
Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Associate Editor: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.


S. Rajendran, Ph.D.

(Kindly note that that Lh, z, and zh represent the sound, grooved palatal lateral, that is special or peculiar to Malayalam and Tamil. Note also that nd stands for the dental nasal. In some places the coding does not italicize the Tamil affixes. However, the context makes these things clear. The author, Dr. Rajendran, has carefully written his article with all the consistency that is expected of the linguists. But the coding part done at the editorial level could not accomplish everything that was intended, mainly because of the problems with coding the linguistic diacritics. -- Editor.)

1. Introduction

Nominalization is the process by which nouns are derived from lexemes of different grammatical categories. In Tamil, nouns can be formed from the words belonging to all parts of speech. Based on the grammatical category from which the nouns are derived, the derivation of nouns can be classified mainly into three types:

  1. 1. Formation of nouns from nouns
  2. kaaval 'guard' + ar > kaavalar 'policeman'
    kaappu 'protection'+ akam > kaappakam 'asylum'

  3. 2. Formation of nouns form verbs
  4. paaTu 'sing' + al > paaTal 'song'
    tuungku 'sleeps' + am > tuukkam 'sleep'

  5. 3. Formation of nouns from adjectives
  6. periya 'big' + avar > periyavar 'old man'
    koTiya 'bad' + avar > koTiyavar 'bad peson'

Apart from the word level nominalization processes, there are nominalization processes at the clause level too. This paper aims to capture the processes of nominalization (both word level and clause level nominalizations) that are effected on verbs.

2. Types of nominalization

Deverbal nominalization (that is, the process of nominalization that is applied on a verb; the verb loses its verb quality and functions as a noun after the nominalization process), can be distinguished into two, based on the type of verbal forms that undergo nominalization:

  1. Nominalization on non-relativized verb stems.
  2. Nominalization on relativized verb stems.
  3. Nominalization on finite verb clause by complementizers.

In the first type of nominalization, the nominalizer is directly added to the verb stem whereas in the second type of nominalization the nominalizer is added to the relativized verb stem. Relativized stem here means simply the verbal stem of the following constitution: verb + tense/negative + relative participle marker. The term relative paticiple marker is used here as a cover term for a marker that functions both as a relativizer and as a complementizer. The term relativizer is used here for want of a general term denoting both relativizer and complementizer.

In the third type of nominalization, the complementizers nominalize a finite clause carrying a finite verb. The finite verb has the following constitution: verb+tense/negative+person-number-gender marker.

The nominalization on verbal stems can be captured by the following rule:

Nominalization: Verb stem → Deverbal Nouns

2.1. Nominalization on non-relativized verb stems

Nominalization on non-relativized stems is mainly by suffixation. Suffixes play a crucial role in the nominalization of verbs. There are two sets of suffixes that are involved in the nominalization of non-tensed/non-negativized non-relativized verb stems. The first set of suffixes are irregular from the point of view of morphology, syntax and semantics where as the second set of suffixes are regular from the point of view of above mentioned three levels. The first set of suffixes cannot be added to all the verbs; each one of the suffixes prefers to nominalize only a set of verbs, but at the same time the set of verbs to which they are added cannot be generalized, categorized or predicted but can only be listed; more over, the resultant meaning of the deverbal nouns cannot be predicted easily. These nominalizers do not preserve the argument structure of the verbs they nominalize. The second set of suffixes can be added to all the verbs and the resultant meanings of the deverbal nouns can be predicted easily. They do preserve the argument structure of verbs they nominalize. It is presumed that the first type of nominalization takes place at the lexical level and so it does not retain the arguments received by the source verb; the second type of nominalization takes place at the sentential level and there by retains the arguments received by the source verb. Thus there are two types of nominalization on non-relativized stems:

  1. Nominalization by irregular processes
  2. Nominalization by regular processes

The same type of dichotomy can be rephrased as follows.

  1. Nominalization by suffixes that cannot be added to all verbal bases and
  2. Nominalization by suffixes that can be added to all the verbal bases.

The following table will show the two sets of suffixes:

First Set of Suffixes Second Set of Suffixes
-am, -I, -ai, -cal, -ci, -cci, -ppaan
-pu, -ppu, -mai, -vi, -vu, -vai, etc.
1. -tal ~ -ttal
2. -al ~ -kal ~ -kkal
3. -kai ~ -kkai

It has been noted that the nominalization by the second set of suffixes is productive and the nominals derived by these suffixes are rich resources from which derivative nouns can be obtained by the process of semantic lexicalization. It has been noted also that there are suffixes among the first set which are productive if we can condition them by conjugation class, and/or phonological environments and/or syllabic patterns. It is interesting to note that some of the deverbal nominals available in the sangam and post-sangam periods are extinct in the modern Tamil and new deverbal nominal forms have replaced the old deverbal nominal forms. It has also been noted that analogy also plays an important role in the derivation of the deverbal nouns.

The earlier linguistic studies on the formation of nouns from the verbs are in tune with the earlier grammatical tradition. The formation nouns from verbs was considered irregular and non-productive. Kamaleswaran (1974) while distinguishing tal ~ ttal suffixed deverbal nouns (which he calls as verbal nouns) from other deverbal nouns (which he calls as verbal derivatives or derivative nouns) mentions that "while the formation of verbal nouns is very productive without any exception, the formation of derivative noun is not as productive as the former" (Kamaleswaran; 1974:11). In the light of present day theoretical knowledge on word formation, it can be argued that the deverbal noun formation in Tamil appears to be a greater extent rule governed.

2.1.1. Nominalization by irregular processes

Deverbal nouns of irregular type are formed by suffixation, ablaut and conversion. The process by which these deverbal nouns are derived from the verbs can be captured by the following word formation rules.

V + [Suffixation / Stem modification/Conversion] → N

The stem modification and conversion together can be termed as zerosuffixation. Thus nominalization by irregular process can be broadly grouped into two:

1. Nominalization by suffixation

2. Nominalization by zerosuffixation Nominalization by suffixation

As noted already, the nominalization of non-relativized verb stems by suffixation of certain set of suffixes is irregular from the point of view of morphological, syntactic and semantic properties. The irregularity can be understood by comparing the processes of suffixation on verb stems by irregular suffixes with the regular ones. The regular nominalization by suffixation shows regularity in the levels of morphology, syntax and semantics. A number of suffixes are involved in the formation of deverbal nouns. The unproductive suffixes are more in number than the productive ones. The word formation rule of nominalization on verb stems by suffixation can be stated as follows:

V + Nominalizer → [V-Nominalizer]N

The suffixes that are involved in nominalization are listed in the table below. The suffixes can be classified into two types based on the initial phoneme of the suffixes:

Suffixes with initial vowels Suffixes with initial consonants
aTi, aNam, an, am, ar, aar, avai, i, ai kaaTu, karam, cal, ccal, ci , cci, cu, ccu, cai, ti, tti, tu, ndar, paTi, paaTu, pi, ppi, pu, ppu, ppaan, mai, mati, maanam, mutal, vaay, vi, vu, vai

All types of nouns ranging from abstract to concrete which cover up action nominals, factive nominals, resultative nominals, locative nominals, abstract nominals, theme nominals, agentive nominals and instrumental nominals can be derived by irregular nominalization.

Verbs + suffix Derived Nouns
akal `move away' + am > akalam `breadth'
atir 'vibrate' + cci > atircci 'shock'
eTu 'take' + ai > eTai 'weight'
ini 'be sweet' + ppu > inippu 'sweet'
iru 'sit' + kai > irukkai 'seat' Nominalization by zero suffixation

Stem modification and conversion together can be called as zero suffixation. It has to be taken seriously due to the reason that not only it could be a productive way of forming nouns mostly irrespective of the conditions based on conjugation class, the phonological shape and syllabic pattern, but also that it has produced an appreciable number of lexicalized forms. The stem modification may cause some change in the internal phonological structure, mostly either by doubling of consonants or by lengthening of vowels or by denasalization of homorganic nasal+stop consonant clusters inside the verb stem. It has to be noted that whenever there is a problem which arise out of the phonological shape, the language has the flexibility of adjusting its phonological pattern or shape by undergoing the following notable phonological processes which are very commonly found in the formation of words in Tamil:

  1. Change of short vowels into long vowels or vice versa
  2. Doubling of consonants (especially stops)
  3. Denasalization of homorganic nasal consonant in nasal+stop clusters
  4. Enunciation of vowel, especially -u.

The nominalization by zerosuffixation can be broadly classified into two:

  1. Nominalization by stem modificaion
  2. Nominalization by conversion Nominalization by stem modification

Nominalization by stem modification can be at least grouped into three:

  1. Ablaut
  2. Consonant modification
  3. Other phonogical change Nominalization by ablaut

There is a set of nominals derived through a morphologically conditioned rule of ablaut which changes the verb stems into nouns. The penultimate vowel or the vowel of the penultimate syllable gets lengthened in this process.

Verb Derived Nouns
oppiTu 'comparison' > oppiiTu 'comparison'
keTu 'spoil' > keeTu 'damage'
peRu 'get' > peeRu 'gain'
paTu 'suffer' > paaTu 'suffering'

A very limited number of verbs form the deverbal nouns in this manner. According to Kamaleswaran (1974:294) this process of derivation of nouns from verbs is prevalent in both the sangam and post-sangam period. Nonce formations of this type of nominalization is not attested in the dictionaries of technical terminology in Tamil. Nominalization by consonant modification

There are deverbal nouns formed by the modification of consonants in the verb stem. Only a limited number of verbs undergo nominalization by consonant modification. The modification could be due to doubling or denasalisation of consonants or other phonological changes. Nominalization by doubling of consonants

There are deverbal nouns which are formed by doubling of consonants without any suffixation. The following deverbal nouns are found in the modern Tamil dictionaries.

Verbs Derived Noun
uruku `melt' > urukku 'steel'
oLhuku `follow' > oLhukku `flow of water'
kuuRu 'tell' > kuuRRu 'that which is told'
puucu 'smear > puuccu 'smearing'

This process of nominalization is found both in Sangam and post-Sangam period. Nonce formations of this type of nominalization are not attested in the dictionaries of technical terminology in Tamil. Nominalization by denasalization

A set of deverbal nouns are formed by the denasalization of homorganic nasal+stop cluster in the verbal stem. The following are the few examples:

Verbs Derived Nouns
ilangku `shine' > ilakku `target'
muTangku `be bend' > muTakku `a kind of disease'
vaLhangku `be in use' > vaLhakku `usage'
virumpu `like' > viruppu `desire'

Nonce formations of this type of nominalization are not attested in the dictionaries of technical terminology in Tamil. Nominalization by other phonological changes

There are only a few deverbal nouns whose formation can be attributed to this type of nominalization and the processes involved are not at all productive.

Verbs Deverbal nouns
tuNTi 'cut' > tuNTu 'piece'
muRuvali 'smile' > muRuval 'smile' Nominalization by conversion

Another process by which nouns are formed from verbs is conversion. Conversion is considered as a derivational process carried out without any suffixation or stem modification. Conversion is a change from one grammatical category to another grammatical category without any overt change in form. The formation of nouns by conversion seems to be a prevalent process from the early stage of Tamil. The following deverbal nouns are found in the modern Tamil.

Verbs Derived Nouns
oTTu `stick' > oTTu `suffix'
ndookku `see' > ndookku `aspect'
piTi `hold' > piTi `holder'
puuTTu 'lock' > puuTTu 'lock'

There is a set of deverbal nouns that come before the concerned verbs as their reflexes.

avaL oru ciri ciri-tt-aaL
she one smile smile_PAST_she
'She smiled'

avan tan kai-yai oru ndakku ndakk-in-aan
he self hand_ACC one licking lick_PAST_he
'He licked his hand'

Here the derverbal nouns ciri 'smile' and nakku 'likcking' are reflexes of the main verbs ciri 'laugh' and nakku 'lick' respectively. These reflexive deverbal nouns of conversion are generally action nominals or factive nominals and they are unable to take number and case inflections. The examples given in the following table will illustrate this point. (Here and elsewehre '*' indicates that the utterance is not possible.)

Verb Deverbal Noun Deverbal Noun + Plural Deverbal Noun + Case
ciri 'laugh ciri 'laughing' *ciri-kaL *ciri-yai
ndakku 'lick' ndakku 'licking' *ndakku-kaL *ndakk-ai
mukku 'immerse' mukku 'immerse' mukku-kaL *mukk-ai
muRai 'glower' muRai 'glowering' muRai-kaL *muRai-yai

Many times, it is difficult to prove that they are nouns. The reflexive type of deverbal nouns are not always derived by conversion, some are derived by suffixation also.

avaL oru cirippuc ciri-tt-aaL
she one smile smile_PAST_she
'She smiled'

They can head a relative clause.

avaL ciri-tt-a cirippu
she laugh_PAST-RP laugh
'the smile which she smiled'

avaL aTi-tt-a aTi
she beat_PAST_RP beating
'the beating which she beat'

Conversion also can be visualized as two processes, regular and irregular. The regular process leads to the formation of deverbal nouns of regular and predictable meaning. The irregular process reflect idiosyncrasy in syntax and semantics. Deverbal nouns of regular conversion are possible with all the verbs, whereas deverbal nouns of irregular conversion are possible only with restricted number of verbs. Some of the deverbal nouns derived through conversion process cannot be modified by the demonstrative adjectives, such as anta ' that' , inta 'this', and descriptive adjectives such as periya 'big' and ciRiya 'small' etc., as exemplified below.

Verb DVN Demonstrative Adj + DVN Descriptive Adj + DVN
tuukku 'lift' tuukku 'lifting' *andta tuukku *periya tuukku
oTi 'break' oTi 'break' *andta oTi *periya oTi
ndaTa 'walk' ndaTa 'walking' *andta ndaTa *periya ndaTa
aLhu 'cry' aLhu 'the cry' *andta aLhu *periya aLhu
vaaTu dry vaaTu 'dry' *indta vaaTu *ciRiya vaaTu
ciri 'laugh' ciri 'laughter' *indta ciri *periya ciri

The deverbal nouns of conversion that are lexicalized exhibiting semantic idiosyncrasy do not show the above mentioned restrictions. The following table illustrates this point.

Verb DVN DVN + Pural DVN + Case Demonstrative Adj + DVN Descriptive Adj + DVN
kuttu 'stab' kuttu 'stab (N)' kuttu-kaL 'stabs' kutt-ai 'stab (ACC)' andta kuttu 'that stab' valuvaana kuttu 'strong stab'
aRai 'beat' aRai 'beating' aRai-kaL 'beatings' aRai-yai'beat (ACC)' andta aRai 'that beat' valuvaana aRai 'strong beat'

2.1.2. Nominalization by regular processes

The three nominalizers, tal ~ ttal, al ~ kal ~ kkal and kai ~ kkai, form deverbal nouns without any restriction when added with the verbs. These three different nominalizing suffixes are added immediately after the bare verb stems. The alternants of each nominalizer can be conditioned by taking into account the conjugation class to which the verb belong. As tal and ttal are in complementary distribution with each other, they can be taken as the alternants of a single suffixal morpheme which can be conveniently represented by the form tal; similarly al, kal and kkal can be taken as the alternants of a suffixal morpheme which can be represented as al; kai and kkai can be represented by the suffixal morpheme kai. Thus we have three productive suffixal nominalizers, tal, al, and kai.

The nominalizers, al, tal and kai, show regularity in the formation of deverbal nouns at the morphological, syntactic and semantic levels. They may indicate the phonological, morphological and semantic readjustments that might have taken place in the derivational morphology of Tamil. The nominalizers al, tal and kai are added to the non-relativized verb stems (which are non-tensed/non-negativized) to form nouns. This is a regular formation irrespective of the conjucation class. The fact that these deverbal nouns are formed by the suffixation on the non-relativized verb stems and that the nouns retain the characteristic features of the source verbs imply that the derivation reinforce certain syntactic constraints on the resultant NP.

Though all the three regular deverbal nominalizers do not distort the verbal meaning of the source verb, difference can be seen between them in their preference of occurrence.

1. tal-nominals can occupy subject position in an equative sentence.

kaalaiy-il ezu-ndt-u ndaTa-ttal uTalndalattiR-ku ndallatu
morning_LOC wake up_PAST_PART walk_NOM health_DAT good
'It is good for health to get up and walk early in the morning'

al-nominal and kai-nominal cannot be substituted for tal-nominal in the above mentioned context.

2. tal-nominals can be inflected for accusative case and thereby occupy object position in a sentence. This usage is rare and found only in classical style.

avaL tinamum aluvalakattiR-kuc cel-tal-ai virumpa-villai
she daily office_DAT go_NOM_ACC like_INF_not
'She did not like to go to office daily'

al-nominals and kai-nominals cannot replace tal-nominals in the above mentioned context.

3. The al-nominals can be complemented by the auxiliary verb form aam (which is deduced from aakum, the um suffixed form of the verb aaku `become'). This combination expresses the modalities of circumstantial and conjectural possibility, permission, hortative, and suggestion (Lehman, 1989:215-216).

ndiingkaL moTTai maaTi-yil eeR-al-aam
you terrace_LOC climb_NOM_can
`You can go up to the terrace'
aruN ippootu tuungk-al-aam Arun now sleep_NOM_can
`Arun may sleep now'

4. In the higher variety of Tamil al-nominals can be complemented by the fully inflected forms of the verbs aaku 'become' and uRu `happen' expressing inception of the action denoted by the nominalized verb.

aruNaa urattu peec-al-aa-n-aaL
Aruna loudly talk_NOM_become_PAST_she
`Aruna started talking loudly'
aruNaa urattu peecaluR-R-aaL
Aruna loudly talk_NOM_perform_PAST_she
`Aruna started talking loudly'

5. kai-nominals are generally complemented by locative case il as found in the following examples implying simultanity in the occurrence of actions denoted by the nominalized verb and matrix verb.

aruNaa tuungku-kai-yil avan avaL-aip paar-tt-aan
aruNaa sleep_NOM_LOC he she_ACC see_PAST_he
`He saw Aruna while she was sleeping'
avaL maratt-il eeRu-kaiy-il kiizee vizu-ndt-viT-T-aaL
she tree_LOC climb_NOM_LOC fall_PAST_PART_leave_PAST_she
`She fell down while climbing the tree'

2.1.3. Distinction between irregular and regular nominalization processes

As we noted already the nominalization by regular process is argument structure preserving nominalization, whereas the nominalization by irregular process is not an argument structure preserving nominalization. The former process retains the verbal qualities of the resultant nominals, but the latter does not retain the verbal qualities of the resultant nominals. The difference between these two processes is reflected in the syntactic and morphological characteristics of the two types of nominals. As we noted earlier tal-group of nominlas retain the characteristics of the source verbs (Paramasivam:1971, Kamaleswaran:1974). Kamaleswaran (1974:9) differentiates verbal nouns formed by tal, al and kai from verbal derivatives or derivative nouns formed by am, ppu, etc. Kamaleswaran (1974:10) and Paramasivam (1971) note down certain morphological and syntactic differences between them. They are listed below:

1. The verbal nouns cannot be modified by adjectives, relative participial forms, numerals, demonstratives, etc. whereas the derivative nouns can be modified by these modifiers.

ndlla muyaR-ci
'good effort'
*ndalla muyal-tal
paaT-in-a paaTTu
sing_PAST_RP song
'the song which was sung'
*paaT-in-a paTu-tal
oru muyaR-ci
'one effort'
*oru muyal-tal
andta makiLh-cci
'that happiness'
*andta makiLh-tal

2. The verbal nouns cannot be preceded by the genitive/possessive forms of the concerned subjects, whereas the derivative nouns can be preceded by them.

*un peecu-tal kuuT-aatu
your talk_NOM should_not
ndii peecu-tal kuuTaatu
you talk_NOM should_not
'You should not talk'
un peeccu 'your speech'
*ndii peeccu
you talk

3. Verbal nouns can be modified by the adverbs.

metuvaaka ooTu-tal
'slow running'
*metuvaaka ooTT-am

4. The modal verbs like kuuTum, 'can/may', muTiyum 'can', veeNTum 'should' etc., can complement the verbal nouns and not the derivative nouns.

avaL paTi-ttal kuuTum
she learn_NOM may
'She may learn'
avaL paTi-ttal veeNT-um
she learn_NOM should
'She should learn'
*avaL paTi-ppu kuuTum
*avaL paTi-ppu veeNTum

5. Verbal nouns do not undergo the morphological process of pluralization by kaL and adverbialization by aaka

varavu-kaL 'incomes'
viraiv-aaka 'speedily'

The above observations made by Kamaleswaran and Paramasivam stand to justify differentiating nominalization by the regular process form the irregular process.

We cannot replace a regular deverbal noun by irregular deverbal noun. For example, we cannot replace regular muyal-tal 'trying' by irregular muyaR-ci 'effort' (which are derived from the verb muyal 'try') as exemplified in the following illustration.

kuLhandtai ndaTakk-a muyalu-tal-aik kaN-T-een
child walk_INF trying_NOM_ACC see_PAST_I
'I saw the child trying to walk'
*kuzantai ndaTakk-a muyaRci-yaik kaN-T-een

2.2. Nominalization on relativized verb stems

Nominalization on relativized stems can be distinguished into two types based on the question whether the nominalizer is a suffix or a noun:

1. Nominalization by suffixes
2. Nominalization by nouns

2.2.1. Nominalization on relativized verb stems by suffixes

A number of suffixal nominalizers are involved in the nominalization of relativized verbal stems. The nominalization retains the argument structure inherited form the source verb. The nominalization on relativized verb stems by suffixes can be grouped into three based on the suffixes which are involved in nominalization.

1. Nominalization by atu
2. Nominalization by mai
3. Nominalization by pronominalizers Nominalization on relativized verb stems by atu

The atu nominals are formed by adding atu to the realtivized verb stems carrying tense or negative suffix.

Verb + Tense/Negative + RP + atu → Verb-Tense/ Negative-RP- atu

The precondition for the suffixing of the nominalizer atu is that the verb must contain tense/negative suffix and relative participle (RP) suffix a. That means the nominalizer atu requires a relative participial form (containing tense/negative suffix) to accommodate it. The nominalizer atu can be identified as a functional head and categorized as a noun on the assumption that the complement selection is a property of the functional categories.

As there are three tense suffixes and a negative suffix, there are four atu-nominals for each verb. The following table shows the atu nominalization on the four different stems. (Note that atu when suffixed with relativized verb carrying relative participle marker a is reduced to tu by morphophonemic change.)

paTi 'study' paTi-tt-a-tu 'the fact that X studied' paTi-kkiR-a-tu'the fact that X studies' paTipp-a-tu'the fact that X will study' paTikk-aat-a-tu'the fact that X will not study'
paaTu 'sing' paaT-iy-a-tu'the fact that X sang ' paaTu-kiR-a-tu 'the fact X sings' paaTu-v-a-tu 'the fact that X will sing' paaT-aat-a-tu 'the fact that X will not sing'

When the nominalizer atu is suffixed to tensed stems, it gives a specific time reference. Nevertheless, when the nominalizer is suffixed to the negativized stem the time reference of the deverbal noun will be either past or present depending on the context.

The important characteristic feature of atu-nominals which distinguishes it from ordinary nouns is that it cannot be pluralized. The property that they can take all the case suffixes qualify them as nominals. They occur in all positions where an NP can occur. The case inflected atu-nominals can be complemented by postpostions. The constraint on plural formation of atu- nominals indicates that they still retain their verbal characteristics.

avan cennai-kkup poo-n-a-tu en-akkut teriy-um
he Chennai_DAT go_PAST_RP_NOM I_DAT know_FUT
'I know that he went to Chennai'

avan aruNaa kalluuri-kkup poo-v-a-t-ai virump-a-villai
he Aruna college_DAT go_FUT_RP_NOM_ACC like_INF_not
'He does like Aruna going to college'

oru mozi-yaip peecu-v-a-taR-kup piyiRci veeNTum
one language_ACC speak_FUT_RP_ NOM_DAT practice_INF must
'One must have practice to speak a language'.

In the last sentence of the above examples, atu nominal peecuvatu 'conversing' complemented by dative case gives purposive sense. In this contex the infintive form of the verb can replace the nominal form.

oru mozi-yaip peec-a piyiRci veeNTum
one language_ACC speak_INF practice_INF must
'One must have practice to speak a language'. Nominalization on relativized verbal stems by mai

There are two types of nominaliztion by this nominalizer:

1. Nominalization on tensed relative paticiple form
'act of comming'
'act of studying'
2. Nominalization on negativized verb stems in which the relative participle is not overtly marked
'act of not comming'
paTikk-aa-mai study_NEG_RP_NOM
'act of not studying'

One can assume aamai as a complex negative nominalizer which is added directly to the verb stem.

cey + aamai > ceyyaamai 'act of not doing'
pooku + aamai > pookaamai 'act of not going'

Kamaleswaran (1974) has taken aamai as a combination of two morphemes, the negative morpheme aa and the deverbal nominalizer mai. aamai can be taken as a single unit parallel to the positive suffixal morpheme tal (ex. uNNutal 'eating' : uNNaamai 'not eating').

irav-il pal tulakku-tal pall-ukku ukandatu night_LOC teeth bursh_NOM teeth_DAT good
'It is good to brush the teeth in the night'
irav-il pal tulakk-aamai pall-ukku ukandtat-alla
night_LOC teeth brush_NEG_RP_NEG_NOM teeth_DAT good_not
'It is bad not to brush the teech in the night'

Only a few aamai-nominals are listed in the dictionaries. Their number shows that their susceptibility to lexicalization is low. The regular aamai-nominal forms could be glossed as 'the state of not X-ing' (when X stands for the verb). Idiosyncrasy or specialization in meaning of the resultant nominals can be associated with the irregular suffixation of aamai. The irregular aamai behave idiosyncratically in the levels of morphology and semantics as illustrated in the following table.

Verb Regular aa-mai Irregular aa-mai Comments
poRu 'tolerate' poRukkaamai 'act of not tolerating poRaamai 'envy' According to the conjugation class to which it belongs, the regular nominal form of poRu 'to tolerate' is poRukkaamai.
kal 'learn' kaRkaamai 'act of not learning kallaamai 'illiteracy' According to the conjugation class to which it belongs, the regular nominal form of kal 'to learn' is kaRkkaamai. Nominalization on relativized verb stems by pronominalizers

There is another group of nominals known as participial nouns which are formed by adding third person remote demonstrative suffixes to relativized verb stems (carrying tense or negative suffix). The formation can be captured by the following word-formation rule.

Verb stem+Tense/Negative suffix + RP+Pronominalizer → Participial Nouns

The following examples will show the formation of participial nouns from relative participial stems:

1. V+ PAST + RP+Pronominalizer
va-ndt-a + avan > vandtavan 'he who came'
va-ndt-a + avaL > vandtavaL 'she who came'
2. V+PRESENT+ Pronominalizer
varu-kiR-a + avan > varukiRavan 'he who comes'
varu-kiR-a + avaL > varukiRavaL 'she who comes'
3. V+FUTURE+RP+ Pronominalizer
varu-p-a + avan > varupavan 'he who will come'
varu-p-a + avaL > varupavaL'she who will come'
4. V+NEGATIVE+ Pronominalizer
var-aat-a + avan > varaatavan 'he who did not come'
var-aat-a + avaL > varaatavaL 'she who did not come'

We consider the relative participial formation as a word formation rule in the lexicon.

V+ Tense/Negative + RP > [V-Tense/Negative-RP]RP

The relative clause construction is the consequence of morphological process of forming relative participle form from verb stems by suffixing relative participle marker. All the syntactic and semantic consequences are due to this change in the morphological structure of the verb into relative participial form which can be easily captured by a word formation rule. The rule of inheritance will transfer the argument structure of the verb to relative participial form which will be further inherited by the nominal forms resulted out of nominalization on the relativized stems. In the following example, the verb veTTu 'cut' has an argument structure consisting of a subject (aruN 'Arun') which is the agent of the action, an object (pazam 'fruit') which is the patient of the action and an instrument (katti 'knife' which helps in the performance of the action).

aruN kattiy-aal pazatt-ai veTT-in-aan
Arun knife fruit_ACC cut_PAST_he
'Arun cut the fruit with a knife'

As the relativized form inherits the argument structure of the verb veTTu 'cut', the pronominalizers (PNOM) will be interpreted of their role accordingly.

katti-yaal pazatt-ai veTT-i-ya-van - (a)van denotes the agent Arun
knife_INST fruit_ACC cut_PAST_RP_PNOM
'he who cut the fruit with knife '
aruN kattiy-aal veTT-i-ya-tu (pazam) - (a)tu denotes the patient, fruit
Arun knife_INST cut_PAST_RP_PNOM (fruit)
'that which Arun cut with knife'
aruN pazatt-ai veTT-iy-a-tu - (a)tu denotes the instrument, knife
Arun fruit_ACC cut_PAST_RP_PNOM
'that which was used by Arun to cut the fruit'

Participial nouns derived from verbs have all the characteristics featuers of a noun. They get inflected for cases. They can occupy all nominal positions in a sentence.

2.2.2. Nominalization by nouns

There are two types of nominalization where a relative clause is nominalized by a noun.

1. The nominalizing noun is one of the arguments of the relativized verb
2. The nominalizing noun is not one of arguments of the relativized verb

The first one can be called nominalization by argument-nouns and the second one can be called 'nominalization by non-argument nouns, where the nominalizing noun stands to denote the proposition implied in the relative clause. Nominalization by argument-nouns

In this type of nominalization, the verb in the subordinate clause which is marked for relative participle is nominalized by one of the arguments of the relativized verb.

puu malar-ndt-atu
flower blossom_PAST_it
'The flower blossomed'
malar-ndt-a puu
blossom_PAST_RP flower
'the flower which blossomed'

The case relation existing between the verb and the noun will help us to interpret the meaning of the nominalized relative clause. All the arguments of the relativized verb can nominalize the relative clause. Say, for example, the relative participial form koTu-tt-a 'that which was given' will inherit the argument structure of the verb koTu. The following illustration will exemplify our stand:

Source sentences:
aruN taTT-il spuuN_aal cooRu caappiT-T-aan
Arun plate_LOC spoon_INST rice_eat_PAST_he
'Arun ate rice in a plate with a spoon'
Nominalized clauses
caappiT-T-a aruN
eat_PAST_RP Arun
'Arun who ate'
aruN caappiT-T-a cooRu
Arun eat_PAST_RP rice
'the rice which Arun ate'
aruN caappiT-T-a spuuN
Arun eat_PAST_RP spoon
'the spoon which Arun used to eat'
aruN caappiTTa taTTu
Arun eat_PAST_RP plate
'the plate which was used by the Arun to eat'

The relative participle form caapiTTa inherits the following informations based on argument structure from the verb caappiTu.

aruN 'Arun' is the subject (Agent)
cooRu 'rice' is the object (Patient)
spuuN 'spoon' is the instrument
taTTu 'plate' is the container for rice

caappiTTa which inherits the argument structure form the verb caappiTu will be marked for these argument relations. It is presumed that the noun which is anchored as a head noun is capable of being interpreted for all these argument relations.

Pronominalized clause being nominal, can be complemented by cases which in turn can be complemented by postpositions. They can occupy all nominal positions in a sentence. Nominalization by non-argument nouns

The head noun anchored after the relative clause may not be in argument relation with the verb. Only a set of nouns which is capable of expressing or abstracting or objectivizing the information contained in the relative clause can be anchored after the relativized verb. These nouns include abstract nouns like ceyti 'news', viSayam 'matter', karuttu 'opinion', uNmai 'truth' etc. The relative clause embedded by the nominalizer is traditionally called oppositive clause as opposed to relative clause proper.

avan caapiT-T-a ceyti
he eat_PAST_RP news
'the news that he ate'
avan vandta viSayam
he eat_PAST_RP matter
'the matter that he came'

The nouns which are not in argument relation with the relativized verb which are anchored after the relativized verb can be replaced by atu as shown in the following examples:

avan poo-n-a ceyti
he go_PAST_RP news
'the news that he went'
avan poo-n-a-tu
'(the fact) that he went'
avan cettuppoo-n-a viSayam
he die_PAST_RP matter
'the matter that he died'
avan cettuppoo-n-a-tu
he die_PAST_RP_NOM
'(the fact) that he died'

As the nominalized clause is an NP it can be inflected for cases and the case inflected form can be complemented by postpositions. They can occupy the positions occupied by an NP in a sentence.

2.2.3. Nominalization by en-complementizers

A finite clause can be nominalized by complementizers in Tamil. The process can be called complementation as the complementizer embeds a sentence in finite clause under a matrix sentence. Tamil makes use of a number of complementizers which includes enRa, enkiRa, ennum, enRatu, enkiRatu and enpatu. All these complementizers are derived from the verb base en- which has the lexical meaning 'say'. The are two sets of complementizers.

1. The complementizers enRa, enkiRa, ennum are the relative participle forms of en which requires a noun to complete nominalization.

2. The complementizers enRatu, enkiRatu and enpatu are nouns themselves and so they do not need a noun to complete nominalization. Nominalization by enRa , enkiRa and ennum

enRa (‹ en-R-a 'say_PAST_RP), enkiRa (‹ en-kiR-a 'say_PRES_RP') and ennum (‹ enn-um 'say_FUT_RP') can embed an S in which the verb is finite form. enRa, enkiRa and ennum can be replaced by each other without imparting meaning difference among th e sentences which take enRa, enkiRa and ennum as their respective complementizers. The complement clause consisting of the embedded S and the complementizer enRa/enkiRa/ennum has the categorical status of an adjectival clause. These complementizers require a noun to complete the nominalization process. These nouns include abstract nouns like ceyti 'news', viSayam 'matter', karuttu 'opinion', uNmai 'truth' etc. As the adjectival clause with enRa, enkiRa and ennum occur as a complement to a noun, it can be interprected either as a relative clause proper or appositive clause. If the nominalizing noun is not an argument of the relativized verb, then, the relative clause can be interpreted as appositive clause.

aruN pooTTi-yil ve-nR-aan enRa/enkiRa/ennum ceyti uNmai
Arun contest_LOC win_PAST_he COMP news true
'The news that Arun won in the contest is true'.
aruN kaTitam var-a-villai enRa ceytiy-aic con-n-aan
Aurn letter come-INF_not COMP news_ACC tell_PAST_he
'Arun told the news that no letter was received'

If the nominalizing noun is an argument of the relativized verb, then enRa-clause can be interpreted as a relative clause proper. This happens when the embedded clause contains the model auxiliary verb form -aam (which occurs only in one finite form) and whole clause can be interpreted as a relative or adjectival clause proper.

aruN vaangk-al-aam enRa ndilatt-ai ndaan paar-tt-een Arun buy_NOM_may COMP land_ACC I see_PAST_I
'I saw the land which Arun may buy'.

enRa-clause complemented by abstract nouns such as keeLvi 'question', aiyam 'doubt', etc. occurs as subject to the be-verbs such as iru 'be', uL 'be', il be not', kiTaiaatu 'be not', uNTu 'be'.

aruN ndaaLai varu-v-aan-aa enRa aiyam en-akku iru-kkiR-atu
Arun tomorrow come_FUT_he_ITRO dout I_DAT be_PRES-it
'I have doubt whether Arun will come tomorrow'

enRa-clause complemented by abstract nouns is sometimes synonymous with oppositive clause (relativized clause) without enRa.

puli varu-kiR-atu enRa payatt-il avan ooTivi-T-aan
tiger come_PRES_it COMP fear_LOC he run away_PAST_he
He ran away due to the fear that tiger is coming'
puli varu-kiR-a payattil avan ooTivi-T-aan
tiger come_PRES_RP fear he run away_PAST_he
'He ran away due to the fear that tiger is coming'

However, nouns of perception such as cattam 'sound', maNam 'smell', uNarcci 'feeling', etc. can only take adjectival clause, but not enRa-complement clause.

aRaiy-il yaaroo iru-kkiR-a cattam keeT-T-atu
room_LOC who be_PRES_RP sound hear_PAST_it
'The sound that someone was in the room was heard'.
*aRaiyil yaaroo iru-kkiR-aarkaL enRa cattam keeT-T-atu
room_LOC who be_PRES_they COMP sound hear_PAST_it Nominalization by enRatu, enkiRatu, enpatu

The complementizers enRatu, enkiRatu and enpatu are tense inflected abstract nouns of en. They too embed an S in finite clause, that is the verb of the embedded S is in finite form. Only enkiRatu and enpatu are used as complementizers in Modern Tamil; enRatu is not in use; enpatu is more commonly used than enkiRatu. enpatu-clause can be complemented by verbal and non-verbal predicates. enpatu can complement a verbal as well as non-verbal predicate clauses.

avan ceennai poo-y-viT-T-aan enkiRatu/enpatu enakkut terium
he Chennai go_PAST_PART_leave_PAST_he COMP I_DAT know_FUT
'I know that he has gone to Chennai'
aruN oru paaTTukkaaran enkiRatu/enpatu enakkut teriy-um
Arun a singer I_DAT know COMP know_FUT
'I know that Arun is a singer'.
aruN oru kolaikaaran enkiRatu/enpatu uNmai
Arun a murderer COMP true
'It is true that Arun is a murderer'
avan vandtuviTTaan enkiRatu/enaptu uNmai
he come_PAST_PART_leave_PAST_he COMP true
'It is true that has come'

The complements of the enpatu-clauses of the first and fourth sentences of the above examples have verbal predicates whereas the the second and the third have nominal predicates. In the first and second sentences the matrix predicates are verbal whereas in the third and the fourth the matrix predicates are nominal.

The construction consisting of the embedded S and enpatu has the categorical status of a nominalized clause or noun phrase. So an enpatu-clause can be complemented by cases which in turn can be complemented by postpositions. It occurs in all NP positions except the predicate position.

1.enpatu-clause in subject relation
oru kaNippoRi vaangk-a-veeNT-um enpatu enatu aacai
one computer buy_INF_want_fut COMP my desire
'My desire is to buy a computer'
2. enpatu-clause in object relation
ndaaLai paLLi illai enpat-aik keeLvippaT-T-een
Tomorrow school not NOM_ACC learn_PAST_I
'I learned that there is no school tomorrow'.
3. enpatu-cluase in sociative relation
aruN aparaatam kaT-T-in-aan enpatooTu ciRaikkum cen-R-aan
Arun fine remit_PAST_ he COMP_SOCI jail go_PAST_he
'Arun not only remitted the fine but also went to Jail'

enpatu-clause is synonymous with atu-clause as can be inferred form the following examples.

avaL inRu varu-v-aaL enpatu en-akkut teriy-um
she today come_FUT_she COMP I_DAT know_FUT
'I know that she will come'
avaL inRu varu-v-atu en-akkut teriy-um
she today come_FUT_it I_DAT know_FUT
'I know that she will come'

enRpatu-clause is synonymous with enRu-clause in certain contexts.

avan var-a-maaTT-aan enpatu en-akkut teriy-um
he come_INF_not_he COMP I_DAT know_FUT
'I know that he will not come'
avan var-a-maaTT-aan enRu en-akkut teriy-um
he come_INF_not_he COMP I_DAT know_FUT
'I know that he will not come'

Larkin (1972:49) feels that object complement clauses of enRu and enpatu are not semantically identical as exemplified by the following examples. If the spekar feels that he is giving information that is new to us he uses enRu-clause; on the other hand, if the speaker wants to remind or point out a known fact he uses enpatu-clause.

maRupaTiyum avar teertal-il tooRRuviT-T-aar enRu con-n-aaL
again he election_LOC fail_PAST_he COMP say_PAST_she
'She told that he lost the election again'
again he election_LOC fail_PAST_he COMP say_PAST_she
maRupaTiyum avar teertail tooRRuviTTaar enpataic connaan
'She told that he lost the election again'

3. Conclusion

Nominalization is effectively used in Tamil to build its sentential structure. One type of nominalization is exploited at the lexical level to build the vocabulary and another type of nominalization is exploited at the sentential level to embed clauses under noun phrases. These noun phrases can be complemented by cases which in turn can be complemented by postpositions. They more or less occupy all NP positions By taking relativization as a wordformation rule which has syntactic and semantic consequences and by marking the relativizer and nominalizer as inheriting the argument structure of verb which is nominalized, different transformational approaches to relativization and nominalization and finding solutions by adhoc movements can be avoided. Differentiating head nouns as argument-nouns and non-argument nouns, the adhoc way of explaining complementation and relativization by movements can can be avoided.


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