Morphology: driving as a noun

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Wilma_Sweden

Senior Member
Swedish (Scania)
I need to analyse the noun driving license from a morphological point of view. The problem that arises is how driving is converted from the verb: to drive into a noun: driving?

1) It could be argued that the noun was formed directly from the present participle of the verb; i.e. driving, with no further modification. In that case, -ing is an inflectional suffix, but it belongs to a verb, while driving in this case is a noun, as I see it. Or could it be seen as a verb?

2) The other possibility is that -ing in this case is the derivational suffix converting the verb drive into the noun driving. The suffix -ing denotes an action that is the result of the verb.

We don't have to pick license apart, but I'd be grateful for any input about the driving, i.e. whether you believe in 1) or 2) above, or whether there is any other way of analysing it morphologically.

/Wilma
 
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  • cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Hello W_S,

    I'm of no use at all with terms like inflectional suffix. I haven't studied linguistic morphology. Allow me to point out that there is a problem with the first hypothesis:

    Driving is a gerund, a verbal form that performs as a noun. It is also a present participle, and not a past participle, as implied in '...formed directly from the past participle of the verb; i.e. driving,". The past participle of to drive is driven.

    Driving appears to follow the same pattern as any other gerund. Thus your question is extremely broad: How did infinitives evolve to have present participles, and how did these come to be used as gerunds/nouns? Perhaps the EHL forum will have more members equipped to deal with such a broad topic.

    It may be far outside your area of focus, but looking at "analyse the noun driving license", I see a noun, 'driving', used attributively as an adjective.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I don't know if this is relevant, but as far as I know the -ing ending of a gerund is not derived from the present participle (I'm assuming you meant "present" when you wrote "past"), it's a derivation of the verb in its own right, it's just that it is (now) morphologically the same as the inflectional present participle.

    I think if you go earlier than Middle English you can see a difference in form between the gerund and the present participle, (and I think "ing" is closer to the old the gerund forms).

    I think the answer must be (2) as "driving" is not modifying the noun (as in, say, "sleeping dog"), the licence is not the subject of the verb, but is a document that allows the activity of driving, which is a noun.
     
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    Joannes

    Senior Member
    Belgian Dutch
    Hi Wilma,

    Matching Mole is right (in Dutch we have -end for present participles and -ing to form nouns - I suppose it's similar in Swedish..). Here, driving is a gerund, the -ing part is a derivational suffix.
     

    Wilma_Sweden

    Senior Member
    Swedish (Scania)
    I don't know if this is relevant, but as far as I know the -ing ending of a gerund is not derived from the present participle (I'm assuming you meant "present" when you wrote "past"), it's a derivation of the verb it its own right, it's just that it is (now) morphologically the same as the inflectional present participle.
    Great! This is exactly what I was wondering. My past participle has now been corrected in the OP.

    I think if you go earlier than Middle English you can see a difference in form between the gerund and the present participle, (and I think "ing" is closer to the old the gerund forms).
    I didn't know there was a difference between gerund and present participle... :confused:

    I think the answer must be (2) as "driving" is not modifying the noun (as in say "sleeping dog"), the licence is not the subject of the verb, but is a document that allows the activity of driving, which is a noun.
    I agree and disagree: license is the head word in the compound, and driving does modify it in that it describes what type of document it is, but I do agree that it's not the same type of modification as your sleeping dog, which is not a compound noun at all, just a noun phrase where the noun is modified by an adjectival verb phrase. (Phew - theoretical! :D )

    /Wilma
     
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    Athaulf

    Senior Member
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    I didn't know there was a difference between gerund and present participle... :confused:
    It's one of those issues where the classification is an arbitrary matter of definition. As some posters have already mentioned, there used to be a difference between them in Old English, and some people still prefer to classify them as separate entities, while others treat them as a single entity called "gerund-participle". For you, it would probably be the best to just follow the preferred terminology of your teacher and textbook.

    For a nice historical overview of how this situation came into being, check out this article. (I find it disgusting when people publish papers in DOC format on their websites, but I'll make an exception by linking to this one.) Basically, two different Old English suffixes, one of which was used for the gerund and another for the participle, just happened to converge into a single one.

    As for your original question:

    For a morphology home exam, I need to analyse the noun driving license from a morphological point of view. The problem that arises is how driving is converted from the verb: to drive into a noun: driving?

    1) It could be argued that the noun was formed directly from the present participle of the verb; i.e. driving, with no further modification. In that case, -ing is an inflectional suffix, but it belongs to a verb, while driving in this case is a noun, as I see it. Or could it be seen as a verb?

    2) The other possibility is that -ing in this case is the derivational suffix converting the verb drive into the noun driving. The suffix -ing denotes an action that is the result of the verb.
    I would say that "driving" behaves like a noun here, so that "driving license" is exactly analogous to "marriage license", and this was confirmed by a native speaker above. Thus, it seems to me like a straightforward case of using the gerund as a noun, so I would opt for answer (2).

    In these lecture notes, you can find a good discussion of the ambiguities in the interpretation of English -ing as an inflectional vs. derivational suffix. Historically, as explained in the above linked paper, English -ing came into being by convergence of two Old English suffixes, one of which was derivational, and the other inflectional. Thus, it's not surprising that some uses of the modern English gerund-participle are somewhere in the grey zone. Again, there is lots of room for squabbling over definitions here, so you'd best stick to those favored by your teacher.

    Disclaimer: I am an amateur in these matters, and I'm not even a native English speaker, so don't hold my reply as an authoritative source. I'm just suggesting what I consider to be the right way to think about the issue.
     

    Wilma_Sweden

    Senior Member
    Swedish (Scania)
    ... For you, it would probably be the best to just follow the preferred terminology of your teacher and textbook. ... Again, there is lots of room for squabbling over definitions here, so you'd best stick to those favored by your teacher.
    Yup, as much as possible, but the object of the exercise is also to argue one's case, and do it well, i.e. with more detail than can be found in our textbook. Our lecturer is, consequently, open-minded about squabblings and differing interpretations. :)

    Disclaimer: I am an amateur in these matters, and I'm not even a native English speaker, so don't hold my reply as an authoritative source. I'm just suggesting what I consider to be the right way to think about the issue.
    It's OK, neither am I! :D You provided some good points and posted some links which looked very relevant and authoritative at first glance, and that was very helpful indeed.

    Thanks all of you for your valuable help - I was, myself, in favour of labelling it a noun, but wasn't fully aware of the gerund issue.

    /Wilma
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    English has lost its original present participle ending in -end(e) or -ent(e) (cf. German -end or Latin -ent-, -ant-). I don't remember exactly when but some time during the ME period. The -ing ending was originally only a verbal noun ending (cf. German -ung). This form replaced the lost present participle. This explains the duality of -ing as a verbal noun and as a present pariciple.
     

    Wilma_Sweden

    Senior Member
    Swedish (Scania)
    English has lost its original present participle ending in -end(e) or -ent(e) (cf. German -end or Latin -ent-, -ant-). I don't remember exactly when but some time during the ME period. The -ing ending was originally only a verbal noun ending (cf. German -ung). This form replaced the lost present participle. This explains the duality of -ing as a verbal noun and as a present participle.
    In Swedish, both these suffix types still remain: -ning transforms a verb into an action noun, while -ande/-ende transforms a verb into an adjective, which makes the distinction much easier. Therefore, by translating to Swedish, it was easier to follow the morphological process.

    /Wilma
     

    modus.irrealis

    Senior Member
    English, Canada
    I believe the situation in English is more complicated than the spelling suggests: in many varieties of English the colloquial form of the ing suffix contains [n] instead of the ng sound [ŋ] but this isn't a result of a sound change -- for example my normal realization of the ing suffix is [in] but I only have [ŋ] in words like nothing. I've read that this might go back to a Middle English pronunciation where the participle won out over the gerund instead of the situation underlying the standard written language. I think that there are some dialects (in Northern England and Scotland I believe) which maintained a difference between gerund and participle for much longer -- at least Scots used to make such a distinction.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I believe the situation in English is more complicated than the spelling suggests: in many varieties of English the colloquial form of the ing suffix contains [n] instead of the ng sound [ŋ] but this isn't a result of a sound change -- for example my normal realization of the ing suffix is [in] but I only have [ŋ] in words like nothing. I've read that this might go back to a Middle English pronunciation where the participle won out over the gerund instead of the situation underlying the standard written language. I think that there are some dialects (in Northern England and Scotland I believe) which maintained a difference between gerund and participle for much longer -- at least Scots used to make such a distinction.
    If I understand it correctly, the source only reports an unsuccessful attempt to re-introduce the distinction between –an and –in into Scots in the mid 20th century. It does not suggest that the distinction actually survived the Middle Scots period.

    I also remember having read that -an(d is a Northern variant of the Middle English –ende present participle suffix. But, to my knowledge, the merger of the present participle into the verbal noun is due to the increased influence of South-Eastern dialects towards the end of the Middle English period where –inge existed as a local variant of –ende.

    Back to driving licence: As has been said before, here the –ing form is clearly a verbal noun (gerund) and not a present participle. Most other Germanic languages use the infinitive stem to construct compound nouns, cf. Swedish körkort (dive-card) or German Fahrerlaubnis (drive-permit). In English the infinitive is rarely used as a verbal noun any more and usually replaced by the gerund.
     
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    Wilma_Sweden

    Senior Member
    Swedish (Scania)
    Most other Germanic languages use the infinitive stem to construct compound nouns, cf. Swedish körkort (dive-card) or German Fahrerlaubnis (drive-permit).
    What you're saying here doesn't make sense: Fahrer as I understand it is a driver (noun), and the noun is derived by adding a derivational suffix -er to the verb stem, rather than just using the infinitive 'as is'. The exact translation of the German Fahrerlaubnis, then, ought to be driver-permit, right?

    /Wilma
     

    Athaulf

    Senior Member
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    What you're saying here doesn't make sense: Fahrer as I understand it is a driver (noun), and the noun is derived by adding a derivational suffix -er to the verb stem, rather than just using the infinitive 'as is'. The exact translation of the German Fahrerlaubnis, then, ought to be driver-permit, right?
    It seems like you're misanalyzing the morpheme -er- here. The German word for "permit" is Erlaubnis. :)
     

    Wilma_Sweden

    Senior Member
    Swedish (Scania)
    It seems like you're misanalyzing the morpheme -er- here. The German word for "permit" is Erlaubnis. :)
    Woops! :eek: Trust Google to get it wrong, and me to be too lazy to search a real dictionary or to study German properly! Now that you have kindly supplied me with one, I shall save that link for future reference! To my comfort, there were plenty of other compound nouns beginning with Fahrer a.k.a. driver... :D

    /Wilma
     
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