De-adjectival Human Nouns in French

  • Dany Amiot
  • Delphine Tribout
Part of the Studies in Morphology book series (SUMO, volume 4)


This chapter deals with adjectives used as nouns in French. Such uses of adjectives are cross-linguistically attested, and in recent years there have been numerous studies on this topic, often in a cross-linguistic perspective. Two kinds of interpretation are generally distinguished for these nouns: either the noun is abstract and refers to the property denoted by the adjective; or it is concrete and countable and refers to an individual, generally a human being. This study will focus on the latter, named de-adjectival human nouns. We will first present the main properties of de-adjectival human nouns in French, then we will give an account of the literature on de-adjectival nouns. Such nouns are generally analysed as being either syntactically derived or morphologically converted from adjectives. We will show, however, that both types of analysis suffer drawbacks. Finally, in line with the framework of Construction Grammar, we will provide an alternative analysis, in terms of syntactic coercion.


De-adjectival human nouns Coercion Construction Morphology Syntax-morphology interface 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Département Sciences du LangageLille University/Laboratory STL-CNRSLilleFrance

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