In English, nominalized verbs have only one form regardless of the thematic relation of its possessor:

  1. The robot's destruction (of the city) terrified authorities.
  2. The robot's destruction (by the authorities) saddened its creator.

In (1), the robot is the agent whereas in (2), it is the patient.

Are there any languages in which the nominalized verb has different forms depending on the thematic relation of its possessor? That would seem like a very useful distinction to be able to make.

  • 2
    I don't think it's the form of the nominalised verb that indicates the thematic relation. It's the preposition/case of the phrase with robot. (I won't call it its possesor because that is specific to one case.) For example in Spanish de vs por, or in German genitive vs durch. In your English examples, of and by imply that robot has the other relation. – Adam Bittlingmayer May 21 '18 at 14:29
  • My rough generalisation says that other SAE languages very strongly prefer interpretation 2 (when using genitive or a preposition like of or a possessive pronoun). – Adam Bittlingmayer May 21 '18 at 14:41
  • The data arguably confirm. Web searches for "su destrucción de la ciudad" "seine zerstörung der stadt" and "ihre zerstörung der stadt" yield even less than for English "his destruction of the city" and "their destruction of the city". – Adam Bittlingmayer May 21 '18 at 14:41
  • The closest to what you imagined with verb form that occurs to me would be Armenian "the your destroyed" meaning "that which was destroyed by you" as opposed to "the your destruction". – Adam Bittlingmayer May 21 '18 at 14:45
  • So we could re-phrase this question as "Are there any languages besides English in which the nominalized verb phrase can have the same form independent of the thematic relation of its possessor?" – Adam Bittlingmayer May 21 '18 at 14:47

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