Author Topic: On what morphological basis are common and proper nouns distinguishable?  (Read 4703 times)

Offline zaba

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Obviously there are many criteria -- but is some criteria standard?

Offline Daniel

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Morphological? Sometimes none. For example, in English there is no morphological distinction (except that often proper nouns aren't used in the plural), and in Latin names were inflected for case just like common nouns. See, for example, the book Harrius Potter (Latin translation of Harry Potter).

There are often syntactic criteria. For example, in English they are not used with definite articles. (But they are in Portuguese, and other languages.)

So it varies by language, but you'll start by working out the semantics and pragmatics.

I would guess that the pluralization test is one simple way to start: it sounds relatively normal to say "bills" (to pay) but not "Bills" (people named Bill).

There's also the adjective test: "large bill" (to pay) but not "large Bill" (your friend).
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Offline Corybobory

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I think it's strictly a semantic distinction and there is no morphological differentiation.
BA Linguistics, MSt Palaeoanthropology and Palaeolithic Archaeology, current PhD student (Archaeology, 1st year)

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