Are there any instances in any language where a finite clause can be nominalised?

Gerunds in English are non-finite CPs and deverbal nouns lack an inflectional layer altogether.

Rome wants [CP to destroy Carthage]

[DP Rome1 's [nP destruction2 [vP t1 t2 of Carthage]]]

Certain scholars say that complementiser yang in Malay can function as a nominaliser. In (1), the constituent "yang telah mati" is said to be a clause that's been nominalised.


[Yang telah mati] tidak boleh kembali.
 COMP PERF  die   NEG   can   return
Those who have died cannot return.

I have my doubts because aspectual markers can occur in such "nominalised clauses". Although finiteness is not marked in Malay in any way, the occurrence of aspectual markers can be taken as a diagnostic for finiteness because they can't occur in clauses which one would typically analyse as non-finite, e.g. control clauses.


(*Telah) memenangi pertandingan adalah syarat    untuk peserta     (*akan) menerima hadiah
(*PERF)  win       competition  COP    condition for   participant (*PROS) receive  prize
To have won the competition is a condition for a participant to receive the prize

Instead, (1) can be said to be a headless relative clause.

(Orang)  yang telah mati tidak boleh kembali.
(Person) COMP PERF  die  NEG   can   return
People who have died cannot return.

Nouns in Malay can be deleted if they're given, and this should be the case with (1).

A: Saya suka kucing yang Ali sedang pegang itu.
   1.SG like cat    COMP Ali PROG   hold   DIST
   I like the cat that Ali is holding.

B: Saya suka yang sedang bermain itu.
   1.SG like COMP PROG   play    DIST
   I like the one that's playing.

The noun heading the relative clause is deleted because it can be recovered from context.

What do you guys think?

  • 1
    I have read three times your text, but I didn't got you what is it the purpose of your writing yet. Do you want some examples from other languages about finite clause nominalized or do you want an appreciation of your analysis about 'yang' in Malay ?
    – amegnunsen
    Nov 16 '18 at 15:02
  • @amegnunsen Both. Nov 17 '18 at 23:21
  • Ancient Greek could nominalise entire sentences or even paragraphs simply by adding a definite article. Japanese can nominalise clauses or sentences using a number of particles (most commonly の no, which only nominalises, or と to, which nominalises and marks as a quote). I’m sure there are other examples. You could argue that something like the subordinator that in English functions as a nominaliser as well, since that-clauses are syntactically nominal. Apr 12 '20 at 12:59
  • The official title of the King of Malaysia is Yang Dipertuan Agong. It's a noun phrase, like What I did on my summer vacation.
    – jlawler
    Aug 5 at 15:48

I can only answer for your general question. If we define the difference between a finite clause and a non-finite clause by the fact that the non-finite clause does not include subject whereas for the finite verb, it is necessary. In consequence, I can state in Riffian finite clause can occupy the object position of a main clause. For example:

xs-egh ad a3ya-agh tcamma

like-I FUT play-I soccer

I like playing soccer

Some dependent clauses in Riffian use finite verbs as well (see the example below). So it is not specific to nominalized finite clause.

sedj-egh utcma te-wta ijjen

heard-I my_sister she-struck someone

I heard my sister strike someone

We have also the case where an adjective can be a finite clause, as here:

zri-gh aqzin i-mgher

saw-I dog he-was_big

I saw a big dog

In conclusion, no particle is used with finite clause to nomalize it where we expect a noun.

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