Survey Seminar Series Spring 2019

The Survey of English Usage organises a number of seminars each year for staff and students from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and beyond. They are generously sponsored by the English Department.

The following research seminars took place during the Spring term.

Both seminars took place at 4.15pm in Darwin Building B15.

Wednesday 30 January, 4.15pm, Darwin Building B15

  Cliff Oswick (Case Business School, City University London)
Integrating Discourse and Materiality: Towards Blended Forms of Analysis in Narrative Research

This presentation offers a classification of perspectives on engaging with materiality in discourse-based research. Drawing upon a ‘mainstream empirical example’ (i.e. the succession of managers of the England football team), an approach that integrates realist and social constructivist concerns by blending event-based analysis with narrative-based analysis is presented.

Wednesday 13 March, 4.15pm, Darwin Building B15

Geri Popova (Goldsmiths, University of London)
Deadjectival nominalizations in –ness: Mind the gaps

The focus of this talk is on deadjectival nominalizations in English, and particularly on nouns derived from adjectives via the suffix –ness. –ness is one of the most productive suffixes in English and it derives nouns with quite general semantics.

Despite the productivity of –ness nominalizations, gaps exist. These are discussed, for example, in Roy (2010). Roy reaches the conclusion that nominalizations are possible only from adjectives that can be used predicatively. Conversely, nominalizations are not possible with adjectives that can only be used attributively. The gap is related to this difference in syntactic behaviour and its modelling relies on a syntactic account.

This would predict that nominalizations from adjectives like utter, for example, would be impossible, as such adjectives would typically not be allowed in predicative use:

(1) a. This is an utter failure.

b. *This failure is utter.

This paper examines nominalizations of adjectives in English and claims that the gaps are not as big or well-defined as previously claimed. For example, searches through corpora, the internet and the OED find –ness nominalizations from adjectives like utter, e.g. utterness of failure and utterness of her collapse are attested in the OED. The claim of this paper is that gaps in –ness nominalizations are better understood with reference to adjectival semantics along the lines of the proposal in McNally and Boleda (2004). Gaps in the derivation of –ness nouns could be related to their distinction between adjectives that modify kinds and adjectives that modify individuals.


Bauer, Laurie, Lieber, Rochelle, and Plag, Ingo. 2013. The Oxford Reference Guide to English Morphology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lieber, Rochelle. 2004. Morphology and lexical semantics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lieber, Rochelle. 2015. The semantics of transposition. Morphology, 25: 353-369.

McNally, L. and Boleda, G. (2004). Relational adjectives as properties of kinds. In Bonami, O. and Cabredo Hofherr, P., editors, Empirical Issues in Formal Syntax and Semantics 5, pages 179-196. CSSP.

Roy, Isabelle. 2010. Deadjectival nominalizations and the structure of the adjective. In Alexiadou, Artemis and Rathert, Monika (eds.), The Syntax of Nominalizations Across Languages and Frameworks, 129-158. New York: Walter de Gruyter.

This page last modified 16 October, 2019 by Survey Web Administrator.