Vol. 55 No. 4 (2007)
Research Article

Proper Names as the Prototypical Nominal Category

Published 2007-12-01



Proper names are the prototypical, unmarked nouns; they refer rather than describe or predicate as do common nouns. Proper names systematically appear in close appositional structures of such types as the poet Burns, Hurricane Edna, Fido the dog, the City of London, where they constitute the identifying unit, while common nouns in such appositional structures characterize the name. Proper names are definite, mostly countable, singular and nonrecursive (nongeneric) and concrete; since these are the unmarked features of nouns, proper names regularly display zero or no affixes, except for marked proprial subcategories. This view· of proper names apparently contradicts the cognitivist ideas of Ronald Langacker; however, Langacker's analysis can be interpreted in such a way that proper names constitute the prototypical nominal class.


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