Eldin Raigmore wrote:
> On Sat, 7 Oct 2006 17:21:54 +0100, R A Brown <[log in to unmask]> 
> wrote:
>>"Any of various non-finite verb forms which act as the heads of verbs
>>phrases functioning as adjectival or adverbial modifiers..."
> "In linguistics, a participle is a kind of verbal adjective; it indicates 
> that the noun it modifies is a participant in the action that the 
> participle refers to."

IME Wikipedia can be useful, but need to be used with caution. The 
articles are only as good as the people who write them. Certainly IMO 
one is advised to read the discussion (tho this not always 
well-informed) and, perhaps most importantly, to cross check.

I do not know why person who wrote the Wikipedia article wrote "a kind 
of verbal adjective" - it is a verbal adjective (or verbal adverb) or, 
as Trask wrote "a non-finite verb form ... functioning as adjective or 
adverb modifies...."

It is true that as an adjective, the noun it modifies is a participant 
in the verbal function - I would not say "in the action..." since not 
all verbs convey action. The modified noun as is, from a verbal point of 
view, the 'subject' of the verb.

> /WhatIsAParticiple.htm
> doesn't mention anything about "participant in the action".

Nor, on the other hand, it does not exclude it. It does not mention it, 
I assume, because it thinks it unnecessary (also, as I have just 
written, "action" is too limiting - not all verbs denote action). But 
consider the examples given by SIL:
# He ate a boiled egg for breakfast.'
= He eat an egg, which [subj] had been boiled, for breakfast.

# 'I like to see smiling faces.'
= I like to see faces which [subj] are smiling.

# 'You are singing a good song.'
# 'I have exercised.'
# 'He has eaten dinner already.'
For these three examples, see below under *PARTICIPLES IN PERIPHRASTIC 

# 'She got a bad sunburn while playing in the pool.'
= She got a bad sunburn while she [subj.] was playing in the pool.

The 'expansions' also contain participles and may appear to be 
'recursive'; but this is not so. In participles in the expansions are a 
different use of participles, namely with auxiliaries in the formation 
of periphrastic verb forms - see below.

> I take it Trask doesn't either?
I quoted Trask's opening sentence above. No, he does not mention it 
either, But consider also his examples (the 'expansions' are mine):

# The woman lighting a cigarette is Lisa.
= The woman, who [subj.] is lighting a cigarette, is Lisa.

# Arriving at work, I found a message waiting for me.
= When I [subj.] arrived at work, I found a message which [subj.] was 
waiting for me.

# The child rescued from the well is now in hospital.
= The child, who [subj.] had been rescued from the well, is now in hospital.

# Exhausted by his efforts, he tumbled into bed.
= Because he [subj,] had been exhausted by his efforts, he tumbled into bed.

Trask's second example is interesting. Some people would say "On 
arriving at work...". It should also be noted that when this is 
'expanded' we use an adverbial clause of time [When I had....]. The 
participle is being used adverbially rather than adjectively; IIRC 
Esperanto would explicitly have an adverbial form here - alveninte.


After giving the above examples, Trask writes:
"The label 'participle' is also usually extended to non-finite forms 
which do not function in this way but which serve to combine with 
auxiliaries in the formation of periphrastic verb forms; an example in 
English is the English perfect participle, such as _finished_ in _Lisa 
has finished her translation_."

Neither in the 'How to kick the infinitive habit' thread, the 
'Infinitives & gerunds' thread nor this thread has this use of 
non-finite verbs been considered. In fact all forms of non-finite verbs 
- whether participles, infinitives, gerundives or gerunds - may be found 
used this way with auxiliary verbs in different languages. These uses 
are *language specific*.

In English the two uses are:
(a) "to be" + imperfective ('present') participle to form the tenses of 
the progressive (or continuous) aspect; e.g. Lisa is/was/will be writing 
In this construction the participle can be considered as a use of the 
participle as a predicative adjective, cf.
Lisa is beautiful ~ Lisa is smiling.

But if we 'expand' the participle we do get recursion:
Lisa is beautiful --> Lisa is a beautiful person.
Lisa is smiling _-. Lisa is a person who is smiling --> Lisa is a person 
who is a person who is smiling etc.   ;)

(b) "to have" + perfect participle to form the tenses of the prefect* 
aspect; e.g. Lisa has gone out.
This began life, so to speak, some two & half millennia ago in phrases 
with transitive verbs. Thus we find in Plautus:

   hasce      aedis     conductas         habet
These-ACC.PL rooms-ACC.Pl hire-PP-ACC.PL has-PRES-3SG
He has these hired [by him] rooms = He has hired these rooms

But now the original construction has been forgotten and "have+perfect 
participle" is used in many western European languages with various 

*these forms are also used for related aspects such as _experiential_, 
e.g. Lisa has worked in Paris. Also British & American usage does differ 
in some respects   :)

Some languages, such as Welsh, show a preference for using verbal nouns 
with auxiliaries for periphrastic tense/aspect forms, others prefer 


>>I'm not sure what you mean by "participant in the verb".  
> The agent or patient (or, I suppose, the instrument or beneficiary or ... ) 
> of the verb from which the participle is derived.
> The passive participle "cut" derived from the verb "cut" indicates that the 
> modified noun was the patient of the cutting; "the cut flowers".
> The active participle "cutting" derived from the verb "cut" indicates that 
> the modified noun was the agent of the cutting; "the cutting insult".

Yes, if those are the semantic roles of the particular verb arguments. 
It won't work if the verb's subject and/object have different semantic 
roles. For example, in "his dying words", the modified noun is hardly an 
agent! I think it is less misleading to think in terms of the 
_syntactic_ the role of subject (as shown above).

>>They can, of course, as heads of adjectival phrases, modify the subject of 
>>the verb or, indeed, any of its other noun arguments. 
> You seem to be referring to the verb of the clause in which the participle 
> is used?  
> I was referring, instead, to the verb from which the participle is derived. 

Not at all - I am referring to the _NP_ (*not* the verb), in whatever 
clause it occurs, that is modified by the participle. If, as I have 
shown above, the participle is 'expanded' into a clause, the modified 
noun is the subject of the verb from which the participle is derived.

>>>There are several verbal nouns (or deverbal nouns or nominalized verbs)
>>A deverbal noun is a straight noun formed from a verb; it has no verbal
>>functions, e.g. realization <-- realize; development <-- develop etc.
> Yes, I knew that.

Your use of "or" is not clear; it could be read as tho you thought 
'verbal noun', 'deverbal noun' and 'nominalized verb' were the same thing.

> I was wondering whether some people think all verbal adjectives are 
> participles, 

Aren't they? What else would they be?

The only thing I can think of that might be considered differently are 
the Latin 'gerundives'; but even those could IMO be considered as 
'gerundial participles'.

> or whether some people think a participle has to indicate that 
> its "head noun" was or is or would have been a "participant" in the action 
> indicated by the verb.

By "head noun" I assume you mean the noun modified by the participle. 
Yes, by the very fact that it is no modified must of necessity mean the 
noun 'participates in the verbal function' (_not_ of course necessarily 
"action", as not all verbs denote actions - IMO are putting undue 
emphasis on a poorly worded part of the Wikipedia definition).

> I was not asking for a term to cover deverbal nouns; I was asking for a 
> term to cover verbal nouns which denote participants in the action 
> indicated by the verb.


> But some nominalizations are deverbal rather than verbal, I think.  (Or at 
> least some of them could be in some languages.)

Yes, of course, very many are: realization, establishment etc etc.

> In English it is harder to tell the difference if the verb in question is 
> intransitive than if it is transitive.


> For instance, is "evanescent" a participle or a deverbal adjective?  

It is *not* a participle. _All_ English imperfective ('present') 
participles end in -ing. The present participle of 'evanesce' is 

> Is "evanescence" a gerund or a deverbal noun?  

A deverbal noun. The English gerund is *always* identical in form to the 
imperfective participle, hence 'evanescing' (not likely to occur 
over-much, methinks).

>>I am not clear what you mean by "nominalized verbs."
> I was not using as strict a definition as that in
> /WhatIsANominalization.htm


>>Could you give examples. 
> In English;
> Verb: "employ"
> Agent-nominalization: "employer"
> Patient-nominalization: "employee"
> Verb: "cut"
> Agent-nominalization: "cutter"
> Instrument-nominalization: "cutter"
> Effected-result-nominaliztion: "cut"
> Verb: "discover"
> Agent-nominalization: "discoverer"
> Effected-result-nominalization: "discovery"
> Event-nominalization: "discovery"
> Verb: "brew"
> Agent-nominalization: "brewer"
> Effected-result-nominalization: "brew"
> Place-nominalization: "brewery" 
> And so on.

Right - these are all deverbal noun. The terminology is slightly 
unusual, but there is nothing unusual about these nouns.

> ("Event-nominalizations" wouldn't denote a "participant".

Why should they? There is, as far as I know, no requirement for this. 
the SIL definition of 'nominalization' is:
"A nominalization is a noun phrase that has a systematic correspondence 
with a clausal predication which includes a head noun morphologically 
related to a corresponding verb."

> But the agent (if there is one) and the patient (if there is one) are 
> always "participants".)

Of course, by definition agents and patients must be 'participants'!


>>Are you thinking in terms of something like Tagalog verbal forms which some
>>people regard syntactically as nouns?
> That sounds interesting in its own right whether it's what I meant or not.
> And it sounds as if it could include examples of what I meant.

No, it doesn't.

>>Without examples, I am not certain. But my feeling that what you are
>>getting at is something different. 
> If Trask's definition of "participle" (not all of which you quoted?) 
> doesn't say anything about participation, and Trask's is corrrect and the 
> Wikipedia's definition is incorrect, then you are probably right and I was 
> getting at something else.

Nearly all of Trask's definition has been quoted in this mail. No, he 
doesn't mention "participation". IMO the Wikipedia definition is poorly 

> I was looking for an "umbrella term" to cover all verbal nouns which 
> denoted participants in the verb from which they were derived.

Participles are verbal _adjectives_ (true, those languages that readily 
allow adjectives as substantives will treat participles the same, for 
example: Latin 'amans' = 'lover'). Verbal nouns are a rather different 
thing - infinitives & gerunds.

> But you proposed, below, some examples of the kinds of verbal nouns I was 
> talking about; though as you say in each of the examples below, the 
> participle in these cases is actually a verbal adjective used as if it were 
> a substantive noun.
>>By participial noun I would understand a participle being used as a noun, 
>>e.g. Latin 'amans' (loving) used nominally to mean 'a loving person, a 
> That would be one of them.

Right - we can't do that in English. We only use adjectives as as 
substantives when we have a plural or collective meaning, e.g. the poor 
... , the starving ..., the rich ..., the living..., the dead ...

>>so also in Esperanto, _esperanta_ "hoping" --> _esperanto_ "a person who
>>hopes"  :)
> That also would be one of them.

See above. I think calling these verbal nouns is misleading. These are 
participles used substantively. By verbal noun people will assume you 
mean something like an infinitive or gerund.

>>>Some of them might still inflect for tense or mood or such things.
>>In that participles may reflect time/aspect difference. There is in
>>Esperanto an unofficial 'conditional participle' (esperunta "who would
>>hope") used by some - but it is unofficial, and I cannot think at the
>>moment of a natlang that shows modal distinctions in the non-finite
>>parts of the verb. 
> Well, there's "intended" or "intendo" for a husband-to-be; that inflection 
> is as much modal as temporal.  That is, it refers as much to the fact that 
> the marriage is intended instead of actual, as to the fact that it is 
> future instead of past.

That in the meaning of "intend" - nothing to do with participle per_se.

> Also consider, say, the verb "shoot".
> (In the following, forgive my use of the adjective "participial"; I've put 
> it in quotes to indicate that it should eventually be replaced with 
> whatever adjective I should have used instead.)
> One could have a present, active "participial" noun meaning "the one who is 
> shooting right now".
> One could have a past, active "participial" noun meaning "the one who has 
> shot".
> One could have a present, passive "participial" noun meaning "the one who 
> is being shot right now".
> One could have a past, passive "participial" noun meaning "the one who was 
> shot".

Esperanto does - I have said nothing to contradict that.

>>>Would any of them qualify as infinitives or gerunds?
>>Not the things I understand as 'participial nouns' 
> That's what I thought too.
> My follow-up question would be "why not"?
> They are verbal nouns (not deverbal nouns).

Misleading IMO. They are nominal uses of participles.


> But I have the feeling that's not enough to qualify them as infinitives or 
> gerunds.
> So what else is necessary?
> I'm having trouble putting it into words.

"A non-finite form occurring in some (but not all) languages and 
typically serving to express the meaning of the verb in the abstract, 
with no marking for or restriction in tense, aspect, mood or person 
(though some languages exhibit two or more infinitives distinguished in 
tense or aspect).

_gerund_ on the other hand is strictly *language specific*. It is 
usually given to a form that functions as a verbal noun, in a similar 
way to the infinitive, but is differently formed. But I have across the 
term used in the description of some language to denote an verbal 
adverb. There can be no general definition of 'gerund' because, as I 
say, its use is language specific.

  I've snipped the rest because I hoped I've explained myself more clearly

> Thank you, Ray.

You're welcome.

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