University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics


David Basilico


Noun incorporation in Frisian (Dyk 1997) is unusual because it shows certain restrictions that are not seen in other languages with noun incorporation, such as Mohawk and Chukchi. In addition, while others argue that noun incorporation is indeed possible in Germanic (see Booij 2009 for Dutch, Barrie and Spreng 2009 for German), Frisian is unusual even with respect to Germanic in allowing noun incorporation in finite clauses. In this paper, I show that noun incorporation in Frisian should be analyzed as synthetic compounding, with the compound licensed by a null verbal head. It is the presence of this head that accounts for the unusual restrictions. Not only does this head explain the distribution of noun incorporation, it also explains the distribution of detransitivization. I show that there are parallels between noun incorporation and synthetic compounding in English with –ing. An important consequence of this analysis is that it allows us to treat this phenomenon in Frisian as a more typologically appropriate instance of compounding rather than as canonical noun incorporation found in polysynthetic languages.