A Man Needs a Female like a Fish Needs a Lobotomy: The Role of Adjectival Nominalization in Pejorative Meaning

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This thesis documents the grammatical processes and semantic impact of innovative ways to pejoratively reference individuals through adjectival nominalization. Research on nominalized adjectives suggests that when meanings shift from having one property (1) to becoming a kind with associated properties (2), the noun form often encodes stereotypical attributes: [1] "Her hair is blonde." (hair color); [2] "He married a blonde." (female, sexy, dumb). Likewise, the linguistic phenomenon of genericity refers to classes or kinds and different grammatical structures reflect properties in different ways. In 1 and 2 above, the shift from adjectival blonde to indefinite NP a blonde moves the ... continued below

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Robinson, Melissa Aubrey May 2018.

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  • Robinson, Melissa Aubrey

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This thesis documents the grammatical processes and semantic impact of innovative ways to pejoratively reference individuals through adjectival nominalization. Research on nominalized adjectives suggests that when meanings shift from having one property (1) to becoming a kind with associated properties (2), the noun form often encodes stereotypical attributes: [1] "Her hair is blonde." (hair color); [2] "He married a blonde." (female, sexy, dumb). Likewise, the linguistic phenomenon of genericity refers to classes or kinds and different grammatical structures reflect properties in different ways. In 1 and 2 above, the shift from adjectival blonde to indefinite NP a blonde moves the focus from the definitional characteristic to the prototypical. Similarly, adjectival gay [3] is definitional, but the marked, nominal form [4] adds socially-based conceptions of the "average" gay (example from Twitter): [3] jesus christ i make a joke and now im a gay man? (sexuality) [constructed]; [4] jesus christ i make a joke and now im a gay? … (flamboyant, abnormal). To investigate innovative reference via nominalization, two corpus studies based in human judgment were conducted. In the first study, a subset of the corpus (N=121) was annotated for pejoration by five additional linguists following the same guidelines as the original annotator. In the second study, 800 instances were annotated by non-experts using crowd-sourcing. In both studies we find a correspondence between nominal status and pejorative meaning.

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  • May 2018

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  • June 6, 2018, 1:19 p.m.

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  • March 28, 2019, 9:55 p.m.

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Robinson, Melissa Aubrey. A Man Needs a Female like a Fish Needs a Lobotomy: The Role of Adjectival Nominalization in Pejorative Meaning, thesis, May 2018; Denton, Texas. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1157617/: accessed May 22, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; .