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Flexible Word ClassesTypological studies of underspecified parts of speech$
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Jan Rijkhoff and Eva van Lier

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199668441

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199668441.001.0001

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Riau Indonesian: a language without nouns and verbs

Riau Indonesian: a language without nouns and verbs

(p.89) 4 Riau Indonesian: a language without nouns and verbs
Flexible Word Classes

David Gil

Oxford University Press

Gil’s chapter argues that there is no distinction between nouns and verbs in Riau Indonesian. Ideally, the absence of a categorial distinction should be considered as the default case, with the burden of proof on the shoulders of anybody who wishes to demonstrate its presence in a particular language. However, with regard to the noun/verb distinction, its universality is so commonly assumed that instead, one is expected to provide explicit arguments if one wishes to deny its applicability to a particular language. This paper examines a series of grammatical environments, which in many other languages provide diagnostics for a noun/verb distinction, and shows, based on naturalistic data, that none of these distinguish between nouns and verbs in Riau Indonesian. It then argues that Riau Indonesian meets Evans and Osada’s three criteria for lacking a noun/verb distinction, namely bidirectionality, compositionality, and exhaustiveness.

Keywords:   Riau Indonesian, noun, verb, noun/verb distinction, bidirectionality, compositionality, exhaustiveness, monocategoriality, IMA language

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