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Abstract Nouns in the Romance Languagesunlocked

Abstract Nouns in the Romance Languagesunlocked

  • Philipp BurdyPhilipp BurdyInstitute for Romance Studies, University of Bamberg


Abstract words such as Fr. livraison ‘delivery’, It. fedeltà ‘faithfulness’, Sp. semejanza ‘resemblance’, belong to the word class of nouns. They do not possess materiality and therefore lack sensory perceivability. Within the spectrum of nouns, abstract nouns are located on the opposite side of proper names; between them, there are common nouns, collective nouns, and mass nouns. Abstract nouns are in part non-count and not able to be pluralized.

In terms of meaning, there is typically a threefold division in groups: (a) Action/result nouns (e.g., Fr. lavage ‘washing’, It. giuramento ‘oath’, Sp. mordedura ‘bite’); (b) Quality nouns (e.g., Fr. dignité ‘dignity’, It. biancore ‘whiteness’, Sp. modestia ‘modesty’); and (c) Status nouns (e.g., Fr. episcopat ‘episcopate’, It. cuginanza ‘cousinhood’, Sp. almirantazgo ‘admiralship’). From a purely morphological standpoint, a classification of abstract nouns according to derivation basis appears suitable: (a) (primary) denominal abstract nouns (e.g., Fr. duché ‘dukedom’, It. linguaggio ‘language’, Sp. añada ‘vintage’); (b) (primary) deadjectival abstract nouns (e.g., Fr. folie ‘madness’, It. bellezza ‘beauty’, Sp. cortesía ‘courtesy’); and (c) (primary) deverbal abstract nouns (e.g., Fr. mouvement ‘movement’, It. scrittura ‘writing’, Sp. venganza ‘revenge’). Other abstract nouns arise from conversion, for example, Fr. le devoir ‘duty’, It. il freddo ‘coldness’, Sp. el cambio ‘change’.

In light of this, the question of how far the formation of abstract nouns in Romance languages follows Latin patterns (derivation with suffixes) or whether new processes emerge is of particular interest. In addition, the individual Romance languages display different preferences in choosing abstract-forming morphological processes. On the one hand, there is a large number of Latin abstract-forming suffixes whose outcomes preserve the same function in the Romance languages, such as -ía (astrología ‘astrology’), -ura (scriptura ‘writing’), -ĭtia (pigrĭtia ‘sloth’), -io (oratio ‘speaking’). Furthermore, there is a group of Latin suffixes that gave rise to suffixes deriving abstract nouns only in Romance. Among these are, for example, -aticu (Fr. péage ‘road toll’, Sp. hallazgo ‘discovery’), -aceu (Sp. cuchillazo ‘knife thrust’), -aria (Sp. borrachera ‘drunkenness’, It. vecchiaia ‘old age’). On the other hand, suffixless processes of abstract noun formation are coming to full fruition only in Romance: The conversion of past participles (e.g., Fr. vue ‘sight’, It. dormita ‘sleep’, Sp. llegada ‘arrival’) is of special importance. The conversion of infinitives to nouns with abstract meaning is least common in Modern French (e.g., penser ‘thought’) and most common in Romanian (iertare ‘pardon’, durere ‘pain’, etc.). Deverbal noun formation without suffixes (Fr. amende ‘fine’, It. carica ‘charge’, Sp. socorro ‘help’, etc.), in contrast, is known to have developed a broad pan-Romance geographic spread.


  • Historical Linguistics
  • Language Families/Areas/Contact
  • Morphology

Figure 1. The position of abstract nouns in the system of word classes (Nübling et al., 2015, p. 29; modified by the author).

1. Concrete and Abstract Nouns

1.1 General Aspects

Abstract words such as Fr. attention ‘attention’, It. diligenza ‘diligence’, Sp. riqueza ‘wealth’, Pt. cozedura ‘cooking’, Ro. bunătate ‘goodness’, belong to the word class ‘noun’. Within the spectrum of nouns, abstract words are located on the opposite side of proper names, which are maximally concrete. As direct neighbors of proper names, common nouns are found that refer to classes of entities sharing certain typical characteristics, for example, Fr. chien ‘dog’, It. albero ‘tree’, Sp. casa ‘house’ (cf. figure 1; Nübling et al., 2015, p. 29). Collective nouns are lower in concreteness than common nouns, as they denote a multiplicity of something without stating a concrete number: Fr. montagne ‘mountains’, It. fogliame ‘foliage’, Sp. manada ‘herd’, for instance, do not specify how many mountains, leaves, or animals are included. Mass nouns (e.g., Fr. eau ‘water’, It. sabbia ‘sand’, Sp. leche ‘milk’) are even less contoured, as they lack countability: in order to quantify them, units of measurement are needed, such as Fr. deux seaux d’eau ‘two bucketfuls of water’, It. tre pale di sabbia ‘three shovelfuls of sand’, Sp. una cuchara de leche ‘one spoonful of milk’. Abstract nouns are most distant from proper names and common nouns because they do not possess materiality and therefore lack to a large extent sensory perceivability. Abstract nouns are in part non-count and thus cannot form a plural, like, for instance, certain action nouns (e.g., It. il nuoto ‘swimming’, Sp. el caer ‘falling’, cf. Gaeta, 2015, p. 1212). Many other deverbal nouns do allow plural forms (e.g., Fr. mariages ‘weddings’, It. traduzioni ‘translations’, Sp. juramentos ‘oaths’, cf. Nübling et al., 2015, p. 30), however. In some cases, the possibility of forming a plural can be a sign of concretization, for example, It. fermata ‘interruption’ versus le fermate dell’autobus ‘bus stops’, Sp. acceso ‘getting in’ versus los accesos de los edificios ‘entrance doors’. Within the classes of concrete and abstract nouns, one can draw further distinctions as proposed by Ewald (1992, pp. 279–280): depending on the degree of sensory perceivability, she distinguishes between ‘center’ and ‘periphery’. Objects and living things are perceivable by several senses and denoted by so-called central concrete nouns (e.g., Fr. cheval ‘horse’, It. fiore ‘flower’, Sp. mesa ‘table’), whereas phenomena perceivable by only one sense are denoted by so-called peripheral concrete nouns (e.g., Fr. brume ‘fog’, It. corale ‘choral’, Sp. guion (de compuesto) ‘hyphen’). With regard to abstract nouns, the differentiation between center and periphery is likewise possible: central abstract nouns are in principle not sensuously perceivable. They are either derivatives (e.g., Fr. indépendance ‘independence’, It. possesso ‘possession’, Sp. mentalidad ‘mentality’) or do not depend directly on verbs or adjectives (e.g., Fr. âme ‘soul’, but ‘aim’, It. senso ‘sense’, motivo ‘reason’, Sp. espíritu ‘spirit’, kilogramo ‘kilogram’). Peripheral abstract nouns denote either qualities and actions/processes that are sensuously perceivable (e.g., Fr. fraîcheur ‘freshness’, chant ‘singing’, It. luminosità ‘brightness’, tramonto ‘sunset’, Sp. dureza ‘hardness’, quema ‘burning’) or abstract entities that display certain features that are sensuously perceivable (e.g., Fr. matin ‘morning’, toux ‘cough’, It. notte ‘night’, raffreddore ‘cold’, Sp. verano ‘summer’, gripe ‘influenza’). In contrast to this, scholars with a more morphological approach reserve the term ‘abstract’ exclusively for derived nouns (cf. Rainer, 2015, p. 1269). This article will focus on abstract nouns that are complex words, that is, results of word formation processes.

1.2 Classification of Abstract Nouns

For derived abstract nouns, a classification system connected with derivation bases appears suitable: (a). (primary) denominal abstract nouns (e.g., Fr. duché ‘dukedom’, It. linguaggio ‘language’, Sp. añada ‘vintage’, Pt. compadrio ‘cronyism’, Ro. domnie ‘rule’); (b) (primary) deadjectival abstract nouns (e.g., Fr. folie ‘madness’, It. bellezza ‘beauty’, Sp. cortesía ‘courtesy’, Pt. baixeza ‘baseness’, Ro. greutate ‘weight; difficulty’); and (c) (primary) deverbal abstract nouns (e.g., Fr. mouvement ‘movement’, It. uscita ‘exit’, Sp. venganza ‘revenge’, Pt. perdição ‘loss’, Ro. biruinţă ‘victory’). As a matter of fact, derived abstract nouns constitute numerically by far the larger group. Non-derived abstract nouns present in all Romance languages are, for instance, Ofr. , It. età, Sp. edad, Prv. Cat. edat, Pt. idade, Ro. etate, Egd. eted, Log. edade (< Lat. aetate ‘age’); Ofr. som(m)e, It. sonno, Sp. sueño, Prv. som, Cat. son, Pt. somno, Egd. sœn, Ro. somn, Log. sonnu, Vgl. samno (< Lat. somnu ‘sleep’); Fr. paix, It. Ro. pace, Sp. Pt. paz, Prv. patz, Cat. pau, Egd. peš, Log. pake (< Lat. pace ‘peace’). However, aetas is a derivative within Latin (cf. Walde & Hofmann, 1965, p. 21). So far as, for instance, the Latin -io-type is concerned, highly productive in Latin (factio ‘making’, missio ‘sending’, oratio ‘speaking’, etc.), one can see that only 3% of these formations persist as native words in the Romance languages and none of them in all languages (cf. Burdy, 2013a, pp. 48–49). Borrowed abstract words may be said to have been exceptional in the early days of the Romance languages, for example, Fr. guerre, It. Sp. Cat. Pt. guerra ‘war’ (< Ogerm. *werra ‘quarrel’, ‘confusion’); Fr. trêve, It. Sp. tregua, Pt. tregoa, Cat. treva, Prv. tregua ‘truce’ (< Ogerm. *treuwa ‘treaty’); Fr. orgueil, It. orgoglio, Sp. orgullo, Pt. orgulho, Cat. orgull, Prv. orgolh ‘id.’ (< Ogerm. *urgoli ‘pride’). The adoption of many learned abstract nouns, fostered by the New Learning, belongs to a later period. On the whole, it seems safe to assume that languages create their popular abstract vocabularies for the most part themselves. The morphological devices for forming abstract nouns in the Romance languages differ but little from those employed in Late Latin. The most important device through all periods of time is suffixation (e.g., Lat. -ĭtia: Fr. -esse, It. -ezza, Sp. -eza; Lat. -mentu: Fr. -ment, It. -mento, Sp. -miento). There are, however, quite a lot of suffixes of Latin origin that begin to form abstract nouns only in Romance (cf. Rainer, 2015, p. 1280). Among these are, for example, the outcomes of -aticu (Fr. péage ‘toll’, Sp. hallazgo ‘discovery’), -aceu (Sp. cuchillazo ‘knife thrust’), -aria (Sp. borrachera ‘drunkenness’, It. vecchiaia ‘old age’). Even processes like suffixless deverbal formation (e.g., Fr. regret ‘regret’ ← regretter, It. governo ‘government’ ← governare, Sp. cambio ‘change’ ← cambiar, Pt. perda ‘loss’ ← perder, Ro. botez ‘baptism’ ← boteza), and nominalization of infinitives and past participles (e.g., Fr. le devoir ‘duty’, vue ‘sight’, It. il piacere ‘pleasure’, salita ‘climb’, Sp. el parecer ‘opinion’, llegada ‘arrival’, Pt. os haveres ‘assets’, sentido ‘sense; direction’, Ro. iertare ‘forgiveness’, dormit ‘sleep’) can be traced back to Vulgar Latin. Other abstract nouns arise from the conversion of adjectives and adverbs (e.g., Fr. le froid ‘coldness’, le mal ‘evil’, It. il caldo ‘heat’, il bene ‘good’, Sp. el frío ‘coldness’, el bien ‘good’), sometimes by means of ellipsis (Lat. hibernum (tempus) ‘winter’ → Fr. hiver, It. inverno, Sp. invierno, Pt. inverno, Ro. iarnă). Still other processes of forming abstract nouns may be real innovations within the Romance languages, but they should be considered marginal: this goes for the conversion of finite verb forms (e.g., Fr. doit ‘amount’) and reduplication (e.g., Fr. cache cache ‘hide-and-seek’, It. fuggi fuggi ‘escape’). In terms of meaning, abstract nouns are usually subdivided into three groups: (a) Action/result nouns (e.g., Fr. lavage ‘washing’, traduction ‘translation’, It. caccia ‘hunting’, giuramento ‘oath’, Sp. mordedura ‘bite’, cosecha ‘harvest’, Pt. escolha ‘choice’, armação ‘equipment’, Ro. arat ‘ploughing’, biruinţă ‘victory’); (b) Quality nouns (e.g., Fr. dignité ‘dignity’, It. biancore ‘whiteness’, Sp. modestia ‘modesty’, Pt. tristeza ‘sadness’, Ro. dulceaţă ‘sweetness’); and (c) Status nouns (e.g., Fr. episcopat ‘episcopate’, It. cuginanza ‘cousinhood’, Sp. almirantazgo ‘admiralship’, Pt. servidão ‘serfdom’, Ro. preoţie ‘priesthood’). However, these groups are not clearly definable, as will be seen in the following sections. Within the realms of abstract nouns, action nouns and likewise quality nouns tend to become concrete nouns due to metonymic change in meaning (cf. Blank, 1997, p. 251; Ullmann, 1967, p. 231). This has been effected through the resultative meaning since the Latin era: Lat. legio ‘making of a selection’ is derived from the verb legere ‘to pick out’, which then assumed the collective meaning ‘squads’, that is, the ‘result of the selection’; compare also messis ‘harvest; crop yield’, monumentum ‘memory; memorial’, scriptura ‘writing; document’. In Medieval Latin, one finds further examples of concretization, for example, copia ‘supplies, abundance’, then ‘copy’; civitas ‘civil right, citizenry’, then ‘town, castle’; ordo ‘order’, then ‘monastery’ (cf. HLSMA, 1996–2004, 2, V §89.3, §89.8). Correspondingly, there are numerous examples for collective and concrete nouns in Romance languages following the morphological pattern of abstract nouns, for example, Fr. couture ‘seam’, venaison ‘venison’, It. ossatura ‘bone frame’, ornamento ‘decoration’, Sp. pescado ‘fish’, verdura ‘vegetable’, Pt. vestimenta ‘clothing’, moldura ‘frame’, Ro. oseminte ‘bones’, băutură ‘beverage’. Medieval Lat. crassitudo, crassities ‘layer of fat’, iustitia ‘execution site’ may serve as examples of quality nouns becoming concrete nouns (cf. HLSMA, 1996–2004, 2, V §89.3). In the following sections, attention will be directed to the principal morphological devices that help to form action nouns, quality nouns, and status nouns in the Romance languages. The formation of abstract nouns as they are used in scientific and technical language follows the Neo-Latin and Greek word formation patterns (Fr. arthrite, tuberculose, athéisme, It. artrite, tubercolosi, ateismo, Sp. artritis, tuberculosis, ateísmo, Pt. artrite, tuberculose, ateísmo, Ro. artrită, tuberculoză, ateism ‘arthritis’, ‘tuberculosis’, ‘atheism’) and as a rule display only limited variation in the individual languages. Therefore, the following sections will concentrate on popular Romance word formation strategies.

2. Action Nouns

Action nouns (nomina actionis) are defined as nouns that are usually derived from verbs and that denote an action or the result of an action, for example, Fr. jugement ‘judgement’, It. accusa ‘accusation’, Sp. hospedaje ‘accommodation’, Pt. folgança ‘rest, unemployment’, Ro. învăţătură ‘teaching’. Beyond that, denominal and even deonomastic derivatives occur, for example, It. coltellata ‘knife thrust’ (coltello), Sp. azotaina ‘spanking’ (azote), Oprv. pintaria ‘making of pintas’ (pinta ‘vessel for wine’), Pt. romagem ‘pilgrimage’ (Roma). In the following, we will consider to what extent the formation of action nouns in Romance either follows models inherited from Latin or develops new morphological devices. For a discussion of further aspects of Romance action nouns (essentially theoretical and synchronic analysis) compare Gaeta (2015).

For mere practical reasons, the examples for Old Provençal in the following sections are entirely taken from Adams (1913), those for Modern Provençal from Ronjat (1937). If nothing different is indicated, the examples for Catalan come from Moll (1991), those for Raeto-Romance (Upper Egd.) from Melcher (1925), and the examples for Sardinian from Wagner (1952). For Sardinian word formation, compare also Pinto (2011). Integral studies on word formation in Raeto-Romance are missing; compare Liver (2008, p. 2806). However, Liver (2012) deals with the lexicon of the Raeto-Romance dialects spoken in Grisons.

2.1 Latin Tradition

Firstly, there is a group of suffixes that preserve their function to form action nouns through all times. The following types are present in all Romance languages:

Lat. -mentu (hortamentum’encouragement’, ornamentum ‘equipment; decoration’). Fr. chargement ‘loading’, remplacement ‘replacement’; It. movimento ‘movement’, abbattimento ‘slaughter’; Sp. pensamiento ‘thought’, salvamento ‘rescue’ (the allomorph -mento is learned, cf. Pharies, 2002, p. 403); Pt. perdimento ‘loss’, andamento ‘proceeding’; Ro. juramînt ‘oath’, rugămînt ‘request’; Oprv. levamen ‘elevation’, atendemen ‘waiting’, Prv. batemen ‘beating’, finimen ‘completion’; Cat. ensenyament ‘teaching’, esdeveniment ‘event’; Raeto-Romance (Fassa) štrionamént ‘bewitchment’ (Elwert, 1972, p. 177 §344), (Upper Egd.) giodimaint ‘enjoyment’; Srd. illieraméntu ‘birth’ (DES, 1960–1964, 1, p. 611). Mere abstract nouns in -mentum rarely still occur in Latin, as derivatives of the -mentum-type often have a resultative/instrumental meaning (pavimentum ‘floor; pavement’, fragmentum ‘fragment’). They tend to become collective nouns (Lat. vestimentum, -a ‘clothing’, calceamentum ‘footwear’). In Latin and Romance, the plural form -menta often fulfills this function and is even added to nominal stems (Ofr. ossemente ‘bones’, Sp. cornamenta ‘horns’, Pie. boscamenta ‘wood’, cf. GRS, 1890–1902, 2, pp. 489–490 §448; GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1091).

Lat. -ura (scriptura ‘writing’, cursura ‘running’). Fr. coupure ‘cut’, gravure ‘engraving’; It. tessitura ‘weaving’, tintura ‘dyeing’; Sp. mordedura ‘bite’, juntura ‘join’; Pt. abanadura ‘ventilation’, lavadura ‘washing’; Ro. alergătură ‘running around’, adăpătură ‘soaking’; Oprv. cremadura ‘burning’, cozedura ‘sewing’, Prv. mourdeduro ‘bite’, tegneduro ‘coloring’, (Waldensian) murdöiro ‘bite’, rutöiro ‘break’ (Rainer, 2020, p. 446); Cat. banyadura ‘bathing’, rompedura ‘break’; Raeto-Romance (Fassa) kožadúra ‘sewing’, (Upper Egd.) aradüra ‘ploughing’; Srd. suidúra ‘sucking’, (Cpd.) indurkadúra ‘maceration’. This suffix also helps to form collective and even concrete nouns in Romance (Fr. toiture ‘roof’, It. frittura ‘fried food’, Pt. moldura ‘frame’, Ro. bătătură ‘courtyard’, Raeto-Romance (Egd.) ǧenüra ‘rabble’, cf. GRS, 1890–1902, 2, pp. 506–507 §466). For the Latin background of the suffix -ura, compare Giacalone-Ramat (1974) and for its development in Proto-Romance see Mertens (2021).

Lat. -io, -ione (oratio ‘speech’, munitio ‘fortifying’). Fr. livraison ‘delivery’, guérison ‘recovery’; It. cacciagione ‘hunting’, perdigione ‘loss’ (influenced by Ofr., cf. GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1061); Sp. hinchazón ‘swelling’, echazón ‘throw’; Pt. arctação ‘act of restraining’, embarcação ‘embarkation’; Ro. înşelăciune ‘fraud, deception’, plecăciune ‘bow’; Oprv. batezon ‘punishment’, acolhizon ‘reception’, Prv. pougnesoun ‘itch’, flourisoun ‘flowering’; Cat. naixó ‘birth’, salaó ‘salting’; Raeto-Romance (Upper Egd.) clamaschun ‘reputation’, fitaschun ‘leasing’. This suffix is widespread in Gallo-Romance, and, to a lesser degree, in Hispano-Romance. In Eastern Romance, there are few examples, and in Sardinian, the suffix does not show any productivity (cf. Burdy, 2013a, pp. 60–61). Some derivatives of the -io-type display a semantic extension toward ‘period of the action’, for example, Fr. olivaison ‘period of harvesting olives’, Sp. podazón ‘period of pruning’, but this extension is not restricted to the -io-type (cf. Burdy, 2013a, p. 244). As in the case of -mentum and -ura, the -io-type is prone to concretization (Fr. poutraison ‘roof truss’, Sp. plumazón ‘plumage’, Srd. kriaθ‎óne ‘little child’, Ro. spurcăciune ‘dirt’; for further examples cf. Burdy, 2013a, pp. 230–236). Learned results of the -io-type (-ation, -ación, -azione, etc.) are present in all Romance languages.

Lat. -ant-ia/-ent-ia (temperantia’moderation’, dolentia ‘suffering’). Fr. naissance ‘birth’, vengeance ‘revenge’; It. adunanza ‘gathering’, accoglienza ‘reception’; (O)Sp. enseñanza ‘teaching’, creença ‘belief’; Pt. folgança ‘rest’, detença ‘delay’; Ro. dorinţă ‘pain’, voinţă ‘will’; Oprv. confortansa ‘consolation’, luzensa ‘splendor’, Prv. partenço ‘departure’, esperanço ‘hope’; Cat. creença ‘belief’, esperança ‘hope’; Raeto-Romance (Upper Egd.) almentaunza ‘lament’, cuvgnentscha ‘agreement’; Srd. (Log.) koyuƀántsa ‘wedding’, (Cpd.) promitténtsa ‘promise’. This type develops on a large scale only in Late Latin (cf. HLSMA, 1996–2004, 2, VI 285 §44.1). In French, -ance is the result of a phonetic merger of -antia and -entia. Romanian seems to continue only -entia whereas -anţă (speranţă, toleranţă) is learned; compare Fischer (1989, p. 34). For a detailed history of this suffix, compare Malkiel (1945).

Some Latin types of action nouns, however, are to be found only in individual languages: Lat. -amen, -imen, -umen (certamen ‘contest’, nutrimen ‘nourishment’, acumen ‘sharpened point’). Ofr. arsin ‘burning’ (ardre, ars); Italo-Romance (Corsican) abreccimme ‘embrace’, fiurimme ‘flowering’ (cf. GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1088); Ro. despărţime (†) ‘interruption’; Oprv. farsum ‘stuffing’; Cat. degotim ‘dripping’ (iterative meaning, cf. Moll, 1991, p. 190 §403); Raeto-Romance (Upper Egd.) cuschinam ‘cooking’, tu(o)ssam ‘coughing’, (Surselvan) sufflem ‘blowing’, ballem ‘dancing’ (iterative meaning, cf. Jochems, 1959, pp. 242–249, 254), (Friulan) emplùm ‘stuffing’. Romance action nouns of this type show in part iterative meaning. Otherwise, this type has developed collective meaning in many Romance languages; compare Fr. funin ‘rigging’; It. bestiame ‘livestock’, mangime ‘feed’; Sp. techumbre ‘roofing’; Pt. folhame ‘foliage’, Ro. servitorime ‘servants’, and so forth.

Lat. -or, -ore (clangor ‘clang’, furor ‘rage’). Ofr. leisour ‘permission’, Fr. lueur ‘glow’; Oit. bollore ‘boiling’, bruciore ‘burning’; Sp. sudor ‘sweat’, temblor ‘trembling’; Opt. louvor ‘praise’ (cf. Huber, 1933, p. 245 §435); Ro. lucoare ‘shine’; Oprv. cremor ‘burning’, doptor ‘doubt’; Cat. abundor ‘abundance’; Raeto-Romance (Lower Egd.) stauntur ‘effort’, stramentur ‘fright’. In French, Romanian, Provencal, Raeto-Romance, and certain Upper Italian dialects, the derivatives are feminine, obviously in analogy to other feminine abstract nouns; compare. GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1116. In Catalan, the gender of -or is vacillating; compare Moll (1991, p. 194 §423).

Lat. -er-ium (desiderium ‘longing’, ministerium ‘service; attendance’). Ofr. demandier ‘asking’, encontrier ‘meeting’; It. calpestio ‘clatter’, brontolio ‘grumbling’, (Otsc.) lavoreo ‘intense activity’, splendeo ‘shine’, (Pie.) semineri ‘sowing’ (iterative meaning, cf. GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1077); Oprv. caplier ‘slaughter’, recobrier ‘recovery’, Prv. treboulèri ‘confusion, agitation’. The suffix -erium represents an extended form of -ium and stems from Latin verbs ending in -erare (desiderare, imperare).

2.2 Innovative Processes

A great many Latin suffixes have undergone a functional extension or change toward ‘action’: Lat. -ía. In Latin, -ia was not stressed and formed deadjectival abstract nouns, for example, audacia ‘boldness’, superbia ‘arrogance’; and geographical names, for example, Italia, Hispania, Raetia. The Greek form of this suffix, namely -ía, reached Late Latin by means of Greek loan words, for example, elegía ‘elegy’, academía ‘academy’ (GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1076). In Romance, it is only stressed -ía that is added to verbal and nominal stems in order to form action nouns: It. pulizia ‘cleaning’; Sp. mejoría ‘improvement’; Opt. bailia ‘dance’, Pt. amansia ‘taming’; Oprv. pilhardia ‘pillage’ (pilhart); Cat. roseguies (pl.) ‘gnawing’, escorries (pl.) ‘left-overs’ (resultative meaning, cf. Moll, 1991, p. 189 §393); Raeto-Romance (Fassa) retežia ‘evil deed’ (Elwert, 1972, p. 168 §323); Srd. (Log.) ingannía ‘deception’.

An extended form -aría (< -ariu + ía, cf. Pharies, 2002, pp. 225–227) can also be found in Romance action nouns: Fr. tromperie ‘deceit’, flatterie ‘flattery’; It. ruberia ‘stealing’, orologeria ‘watchmaking’; Opg. romaria ‘pilgrimage’ (Roma) (Huber, 1933, pp. 242 §435); Ro. ajutorie (†) ‘support’; Oprv. pagaria ‘payment’, raubaria ‘robbery’, putaria ‘prostitution’ (puta); (Upper Egd.) tschantscharia ‘waffle’.

Lat. -alia. This suffix is originally a neuter plural ending (animalia ‘living beings’, victualia ‘food’). It then forms collective nouns, but some Romance action nouns derived by means of -alia and even -aliu can also be found: Ofr. ajornail ‘daybreak’, envïail ‘provocation’, governail ‘direction’, Fr. semailles ‘sowing’; It. (Bergamasco) marüdaja ‘maturing’, (Nap.) accisaglia ‘carnage’ (cf. GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1063); Oprv. divinalha ‘talk, rumor’, arribalh ‘arrival, landing’; Cat. rialla ‘laughing’, troballa ‘discovering’. It is not clear whether the Old French abstract nouns ending in -al (ajornal, envïal, governal, etc.) represent a learned suffix -al (cf. Malkiel, 1944, pp. 81–82) or are simply variants of -ail.

Lat. -o, -one. Sp. apretón ‘pressure’, estirón ‘pull’; Pt. chupão ‘suck’, encontrão ‘clash’, beliscão ‘act of pinching sharply’, alegrão ‘great joy’; Cat. ressopó ‘snack’; Raeto-Romance (Friulan) ribaltòn ‘sudden reversal’, sbrissòn ‘slip’, tremòn ‘tremor’ (De Leidi, 1984, p. 117); It. (Triest.) tremòn ‘tremor’, becòn ‘picking’, (Sic.) arruzzuluni ‘bump’ GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1095; compare also Emmi (2011, pp. 170–172). The meaning of many of these formations implies suddenness and intensity (cf. De Leidi, 1984, p. 117; Rainer, 2015, p. 2629). The few Romance action nouns of this type have been classified by some scholars under the individualizing Latin suffix -o, -onis (e.g., nebulo ‘scoundrel; rascal’, epulo ‘eater; glutton’, cf. Allen, 1941, p. 19 §17; De Leidi, 1984, p. 117; GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1095). There is more evidence pointing to a different origin of those derivatives. For the Spanish examples, Pharies (2002, p. 431) considered a secondary formation based on empujón ‘shove’ (< impulsione). However, the Spanish derivatives of this type are all masculine (Pharies, 2002, p. 431). For gender variation concerning Sp. -azón, compare Burdy (2013b, pp. 67, 70). Further investigations are needed to verify whether the explanation given by Pharies could also be valid for the derivatives in other Romance languages.

Lat. -ago, -agine. This suffix originally formed designations of plants (plantago ‘plantain’) and collective nouns (serrago ‘sawdust’, farrago ‘mixed fodder; mash’). In Romance, very few derivatives with abstract meaning can be found: Sp. Azotaina ‘spanking’ (Pharies, 2002, p. 50); Cat. becaina ‘falling asleep’, bufaina ‘pomp’. The origin of -aina is the North-East of the Iberian peninsula (cf. Pharies, 2002, p. 51).

A noteworthy number of suffixes that originally formed relational adjectives have assumed the function of forming action nouns in Romance languages, namely by means of ellipsis: the meaning of an adjective-noun sequence must have been absorbed by the adjective after the omission of the noun, for example, It. *(atto) ladroneccioladroneccio ‘robbery’. This is, of course, a hypothetical rear projection. As a matter of fact, it is unclear which noun has been dropped; compare GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1073.

Lat. -aticu (silvaticus ‘of or belonging to a wood or to trees’, villaticus ‘of or belonging to a farmstead’). Substantival formations that denote duties and taxes already occur in Late Latin, for example, viaticum ‘provision for a journey (food or money)’, cenaticum ‘money received instead of a food ration’. This special function subsists in Romance; compare section 5. Beyond that, the suffix forms collective, quality, and status nouns. Denominal and deverbal derivatives of the -aticu-type that denote actions are to be found mainly in Gallo-Romance, from where they moved into Ibero-Romance and Italian: Fr. abattage ‘cutting down trees’, affinage ‘refining’; Oprv. pelegrinatge ‘pilgrimage’, beuratge ‘beverage’, Prv. afenage ‘supply of hay’; It. maritaggio (†) ‘marriage’, lavaggio ‘washing’; Sp. arribaje ‘arrival’, hospedaje ‘accomodation’; Pt. romagem ‘pilgrimage’, passagem ‘passage’; Cat. testimoniatge ‘testimony’, tiratge ‘impression’. It is noteworthy that the native form of the suffix in Spanish and Italian is reserved for status nouns (Sp. almirantazgo ‘admiralship’, It. comparatico ‘godparenthood’, cf. section 4.2). In Provençal, the variant -ige (< -iticu) can be found (batige ‘palpitation of the heart’, glapitge ‘insult, reprimand’). For a detailed study of -aticu in Romance, compare Fleischman (1977).

Lat. -oriu, -a (amatorius ‘of love or lovers’, pictorius ‘of or belonging to painters’). The suffix begins to form concrete nouns in Late Latin (oratorium ‘oratory’, rasorium ‘razor’, ‘barbershop’). In several Romance languages, the suffix has assumed the function of forming even action nouns (cf. already Lat. adiutorium ‘help; assistance’), which in part display an iterative or durative meaning: (-oriu:) It. (Nap.) abbracciatorio ‘hug’, fracassatorio ‘smashing’ (GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1117); Sp. batidero ‘continuous hitting’ (Rainer, 2020, p. 452); Pt. suadouro ‘sweating’; Raeto-Romance (Upper Egd.) sclingiaduoir ‘ringing’; Srd. (Log.) albeskidórdzu ‘dawn’, iskuridórdzu ‘sunset’; (-oria:) Ro. tunsoare ‘cutting’, vânătoare ‘hunting’; Raeto-Romance (Upper Egd.) bütschaduoira ‘kissing’, (Friulan) clapadòrie ‘rockfalls’ (De Leidi, 1984, p. 137). According to Fischer (1989, p. 34), Ro. -oare can also be a crossing of Lat. -or and -ura. This hypothesis has been recently rejected by Rainer (2020, pp. 432–436). In Sardinian, derivatives in -órdzu often do not denote the process itself, but the moment when it takes place (Wagner, 1952, p. 101 §105; cf. Rainer, 2020, pp. 439–441).

Lat. -ariu, -a (argentarius ‘of silver; silvered’, ferrarius ‘of iron’). This suffix is used in a number of Romance quality nouns; compare section 3.2. However, action nouns of this type seem to exist only in Ibero-Romance and Sardinian: (-ariu:) Log. inkeyárdzu ‘entering church’, Cpd. mammárǧu ‘bleating’; (-aria:) Sp. paridera ‘giving birth (animals)’, Am. Sp. habladera ‘talking’; Ara. beladera ‘bleating’ (Rainer, 2020, p. 448); Cat. bullidera ‘boiling’; Pt. brincadeira ‘playing’.

Lat. -īciu/-ĭciu (natalīcius ‘relating to birth’, pastorĭcius ‘of or connected with herdsmen’). Action nouns of the -īciu-type are to be found only in Gallo-Romance and in Italian (Calabrese), whereas -ĭciu occurs in Tuscan. In Old French, the derivatives have an iterative meaning, whereas in Catalan, they denote intense actions. (-īciu, -a:) OFr. tueïs ‘massacre’, baiseïz ‘kissing’ (Meyer-Lübke, 1966, p. 86 §117), Fr. semis ‘sowing’; It. (Cal.) sputarizzu ‘spitting’, cuotulizzu ‘trembling’ (GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1038); OPrv. capladis ‘carnage’, cridaditz ‘uproar’, Prv. tremoulis ‘trembling’; Cat. corredissa ‘run’, demanadissa ‘demand’ (Moll, 1991, p. 189 §396). (-ĭciu:) It. (Tusc.) cicaleccio ‘waffle’, ladroneccio ‘robbery’. Compare section 3.2.

Lat. -aneu, -ineu, -oneu (limitaneus ‘border-situated’, sanguineus ‘bloody’, idoneus ‘suitable’). Action nouns derived by means of this suffix are limited to Italo- and Raeto-Romance as well as Provençal: It. menzogna ‘lie’, (Cal. Lucan.) mǝtogna ‘harvesting’, (Cal.) mangiogna ‘stuffing oneself with food’ (GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1068); OPrv. malanha ‘injury’, mesclanha ‘mixture’, Prv. mesclagno ‘mêlée’; Raeto-Romance (Upper Egd.) pitanögn ‘illicit sexual relations’; manzögna ‘lie’; Srd. molíndzu ‘grinding’, tessíndzu ‘weaving’, filóndzu ‘spinning’ messóndzu ‘mowing’. In Sardinian, the derivatives also denote the moment of the action (Wagner, 1952, pp. 62 §69, 64 §71).

*-oceu. A suffix -oceus is not attested, but there is some evidence pointing to its creation in Late Latin (cf. GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1040). The suffix is of particular importance for action nouns with durative or iterative meaning in Raeto-Romance: (Gardena) stritoz ‘quarrel’, (Upper Egd.) üerlöz ‘barking’, sclingöz ‘ringing’, sunöz, sunaröz ‘chiming’, sutöz, sutaröz ‘dancing, tramping’. These derivatives often carry a pejorative connotation. Melcher (1925, p. 27) pointed out that *-oceu cannot yield -öz in Upper Egd., cf. -aceu > -atsch, -iceu > -itsch. It must therefore be assumed that -oz, -öz is borrowed from Upper Italian dialects (cf. Jochems, 1959, p. 192), where the suffix also forms abstract nouns with a pejorative sense, for example, (Bellinzona) bañöts ‘dampness’, merdöts ‘dirt’ (GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1040).

-ivu (fugitivus ‘fugitive’, nativus ‘original’). In Latin, -ivus was added to participial stems. In Romance, beyond a number of adjectives of this type, very few action nouns can be found: It. difensiva ‘defence’, corsiva, corsía (†) ‘current’, aspettativa ‘expectation’, preventivo ‘estimate’; Sp. vocerío, griterío ‘clamor’ (by analogy with -ería), plantío ‘planting’, cavío ‘digging’, amorío ‘love affair’ (cf. Pharies, 2002, pp. 344–346: the Sp. formations in -ío seem to be influenced by -ía). The Italian suffix variant -ivo, -iva, however, is learned (cf. GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1151). For further abstract formations of this type, compare section 3.2.

-ina: In Sardinian, this suffix forms some abstract nouns that are, according to Wagner (1952, p. 54 §61), due to a misinterpretation of cases like It. pulitina ‘sketchy cleaning’, in which -ina is actually a diminutive suffix, the real abstract noun being pulita: Srd. (Cpd.) krešína ‘increase’, (Log. Cpd.) faddína ‘mistake’ (faddire). Comparable cases are to be found in South Italian dialects: (Sic.) stiratina ‘ironing’, (Cal.) scinditina ‘descent’ (cf. GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1094; cf. also Emmi, 2011, pp. 124–125).

In Gallo-Romance and Romanian, some suffixes of non-Romance origin that form action nouns can be found:

Ro. -eală < OBlg. -ĕlĭ (GRS, 1890–1902, 2, 477 §433): bântuială ‘nuisance’, îndeseală ‘jostling’; ´-nie < OSlav. -anije, -enije (rare, cf. Fischer, 1989, pp. 34–35): curăţenie ‘cleaning’; -íş < Blg. - (rare, cf. Fischer, 1989, p. 35): măritiş ‘marriage’, seceriş ‘grain harvest’, treieriş ‘threshing’.

OFr. -ine < Germanic -eins: gastine ‘pillage’, crestine ‘flooding’ (croistre), Modern Fr. saisine ‘seisin’. In Modern Fr. gêne ‘bother’, haine ‘hate’, the suffix is not discernible anymore. OPrv. -ina: arsina ‘burning’ (ars, past. part. of ardre ‘to burn’), dessazina ‘spoliation’. This suffix is probably supported by some words of Latin origin in -ina (rapina ‘robbery’ > OFr. ravine, OPrv. rabina ‘pillage’, ‘impetuosity’, cf. Meyer-Lübke, 1966, p. 76 §105).

OFr. -ange < Germanic -ung: OFr. losenge ‘flattery’, haenge ‘hate’, Fr. louange ‘praise’. The suffix corresponds phonetically with the result of Lat. -emia (vindemia > OFr. vendange ‘grape harvest’, cf. Meyer-Lübke, 1966, p. 93 §127). OPrv. -enga: flatenga ‘lying’, laidenga ‘hateful speech’, lauzenga ‘flattery’, Prv. flatengo ‘cuddling’.

Fr. Sp. -ing < En. -ing: Fr. footing ‘jogging’; Sp. puenting ‘bungee jumping’. This suffix mainly appears in borrowings from English (Fr. bowling, camping; Sp. rafting, jogging, etc.). Many of these formations are fugacious and do not really penetrate the vocabulary; compare TLFi s.v. -ing.

A pan-Romance device for forming action nouns is through conversion, which concerns verbal stems, past participles, infinitives, and, to a lesser degree, gerunds. As conversion is treated in a separate article of this volume (see Marzo’s Conversion in the Romance Languages), only some basic information will be given here.

Latin action nouns of the fourth declension ending in -us (actus ‘act’, venatus ‘hunting’, audītus ‘hearing’, gemĭtus ‘groan; sigh’) are treated in this paragraph because they were formally identical with masculine past participles. In Late Latin, a merger of -us, -ūs (e.g., peccatus ‘sin’, mandatus ‘order’) and past participles used as abstract nouns (peccatum ‘sin’, mandatum ‘order’) must have taken place (Meyer-Lübke, 1966, p. 77 §107; Pharies, 2002, pp. 43–44). The abstract-forming function of this type persists in the Romance languages, but not in all languages with the same frequency. In French, only a few examples can be found, and in Raeto-Romance, deverbal abstract nouns of the -atu-type seem to be missing completely (cf. Elwert, 1972, p. 187 § 368). In Ibero-Romance and Romanian, on the other hand, this type of action noun is quite productive: OFr. congié ‘permission’, ‘farewell’, pensé ‘thinking’; It. addentellato ‘connection; link’, bàttito ‘striking’, (Sic.) scártitu ‘selection’ (GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1137; cf. also Emmi, 2011, pp. 151–152); Sp. afeitado ‘shaving’, revelado (de fotos) ‘photo development’; Pt. mandado ‘orders’, pedido ‘request’; Ro. arat ‘ploughing’, botezat ‘christening’, scâncit ‘whimpering’; OPrv. comensat ‘beginning’, brugit ‘noise’, plevit ‘pledge’, baizat ‘kiss’ (bais), Prv. batejat ‘christening’; Srd. búddidu ‘boiling’, (Cpd.) nádidu ‘swimming’. In Ibero-Romance and Romanian, the -ītu-type (or ´-ĭtu in Romanian) often denotes sounds and noises, for example, Sp. estallido ‘bang’ (estallar), ladrido ‘barking’ (ladrar) (Pharies, 2002, pp. 312–313); Pt. grasnido ‘croaking’; Cat. brogit ‘roaring’, cruixit ‘rustling’; Ro. muget ‘moo’, răget ‘bellow’. The Latin model of this special function seems to be sonare, sonĭtus ‘noise’ (Sp. sonido, Ro. sunet, cf. GRS, 1890–1902, 2, p. 525 §485).

Feminine past participles have been used as action nouns since Antiquity, but this type gains importance only in Romance. Whereas the Latin examples belong to the third conjugation (collecta ‘contribution; collection’, repulsa ‘rebuff’, permissa ‘permit’), in later times, formations in -ata (first conjugation) become more prominent (cf. HLSMA, 1996–2004, 2 VI, §57.1). Denominal derivatives become common later on. The conversion of feminine past participles can be observed in all Romance languages: OFr. achatee ‘buying’, Fr. sortie ‘departure’, vue ‘sight’; It. entrata ‘entering’, salita ‘going up’, caduta ‘fall’, (Triest.) corada ‘run’ (correre), piovada ‘downpour’ (piovere) (GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1129); Sp. llegada ‘arrival’, acometida ‘attack’; Pt. bailada ‘dance’, saída ‘departure’; Ro. venită ‘arrival’, mulţumită ‘rewarding’; OPrv. arribada ‘landing’, colhida ‘harvest’, atenduda ‘waiting’, Prv. bramado ‘yelling’, voulado ‘flight’; Cat. caminada ‘walk’, dormida ‘nap’, batuda ‘threshing’; Raeto-Romance (Fassa) sonéda ‘ringing’, mordúda ‘bite’, špartída ‘division’ (Elwert, 1972, p. 188 §369–371), (Upper Egd.) clameda ‘call’, saglida ‘leap’, (Lower Egd.) puntschüda ‘stabbing pain’, (Friul.) cusìde ‘sewing’ (De Leidi, 1984, p. 109); Srd. (Log.) lampáda ‘attack’, (Cpd.) lómpida ‘arrival’. Cat. vàlua ‘estimate’, pèrdua ‘loss’ and OPrv. segoa ‘succession’, perdoa ‘loss’ possibly belong here, too; compare Moll (1991, p. 191 §413) (< ´-ĭta?). Action nouns of the -ata-type denote for the most part semelfactive and thus countable actions.

Denominal derivatives of the -atu/-ata-type also denote semelfactive actions, especially blows, pushes, and so forth. Another secondary function of the -atu/-ata-type consists of the denotation of measurements and periods. These two functions belong together etymologically (cf. Meyer-Lübke, 1966, p. 84 §115): (O)Fr. esperonnée ‘spur stitch’, jouée ‘slap round the face’, canonnade ‘cannonade’ (< It. cannonata), poignée ‘handful’, soirée ‘period of an evening’; It. occhiata ‘glance’, forcata ‘forkful’, ‘blow with a pitchfork’, grembialata ‘apronful’; Sp. lanzada ‘spear thrust’, invernada ‘period of a winter’, bocado ‘mouthful’; Pt. caldeirada ‘bucketful’, pedrada ‘blow with a stone’, pontado ‘stitch (pain in the side)’, punhado ‘fistful’; Ro. ocheadă ‘glance’ (< Fr. œillade); OPrv. espazada ‘sword-cut’, bocinada ‘mouthful’; descat ‘basketful’, Prv. pistoulado ‘pistol shot’, brassado ‘armful’, pugnat ‘fistful’; Cat. galtada ‘slap round the face’, fornada ‘ovenful’; Raeto-Romance (Upper Egd.) curtelleda ‘knife thrust’, bratscheda ‘armful’; Srd. bukkáda ‘mouthful’.

In Spanish and, to a lesser degree, in Portuguese, the suffix -azo/-aço (< -aceu) has likewise taken over the function of denoting blows and pushes (cf. Gaeta, 2015, p. 1223; Pharies, 2002, pp. 129–133). Besides this, -ón can be found, as well as -ão in Portuguese: Sp. espadazo ‘sword-cut’, cuchillazo ‘knife thrust’; Pt. pistolaço ‘pistol shot’, canhonaço ‘cannon shot’; compare the similar semelfactive meaning of -az in Friulan: tremaz ‘sudden trembling’ (De Leidi, 1984, p. 25); Sp. pechugón ‘blow to the chest’, pescozón ‘blow to the nape’, Pt. vergão ‘blow with a switch’, cachação ‘rabbit punch’.

Another function of denominal derivatives of the -ata-type is denoting behavior with negative connotations or behavior associated with particular individuals. In this function, -aria/-eria is also to be found, as well as -ezzo in some Venetian dialects and in Upper Egd. -ögn(a): Fr. taquinerie ‘teasing’, cochonnerie ‘nasty remark’, gasconnade ‘bragging’, jérémiade ‘wailing’ (-ade < It. -ata); It. cavolata ‘silly action’, furfanteria ‘cheating’, (Rovigno) striezzo ‘sorcery’, diavolezzo ‘evil action’ (GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1039); Sp. muchachada ‘childish action’ brujería ‘spell’; OPrv. fachilharia ‘sorcery’; Cat. infanteria ‘childish action’; Raeto-Romance (Upper Egd.) putrunaria ‘swindling’, putrögna ‘villainy’, striögn ‘sorcery’; Srd. molentería ‘silly behavior’ (Log. molente, Cpd. molenti ‘donkey’). Occasionally, denominal derivatives of the -ata-type denote qualities (cf. section 3.2): It. (Ven.) aśenada ‘ignorance’, (Milan.) veggiada ‘vecchiaia’ (GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1129). On the whole, the examples show that there is no sharp delineation between ‘behavior’ and ‘quality’.

Suffixless deverbal formation of action nouns can be found throughout all Romance languages. Its origins likewise go back to Late Latin. First, there are a number of feminine nouns created by suffixless formation: pugna ‘battle’ (pugnare), lucta ‘combat’ (luctari), proba ‘test’ (probare) (HLSMA, 1996–2004, 2 VI, §177). These formations are supported by word pairs like formare ‘to form’ – forma ‘form’, operare ‘to busy oneself’ – opera ‘activity’, even if in these cases the noun is primary. In Late Latin, word pairs like cantus ‘singing’ – cantare ‘to sing’, ausus ‘daring’ – ausare ‘to dare’ lead to the creation of masculine formations like dolus ‘pain’ (dolere), rogus ‘request’ (rogare) (HLSMA, 1996–2004, 2 VI, §178). Both types (m. and f.) subsist in the Romance languages: Fr. regret ‘regret’ (regretter), soutien ‘support’ (soutenir); It. domanda ‘question’ (domandare), volo ‘flight’ (volare); Sp. socorro ‘help’ (socorrer), compra ‘buying’ (comprar), pregunteo ‘questions’ (preguntar); Pt. ameaça ‘threat’ (ameaçar), sorvo ‘swallow’ (sorver); Ro. avânt ‘swing’ (avânta), cuget ‘thought’ (cugeta), teamă ‘fear’ (teme), şoaptă ‘whispering’ (şopti); OPrv. despens ‘expense’ (despensar), toc ‘touch’ (tocar), venda ‘sale’ (vendre), defalha ‘defaut’ (defalhir), Prv. casso ‘hunting’ (casar), gouvèr ‘conducting’ (gouvernar); Cat. regateig ‘haggling’, prova ‘test’; Raeto-Romance (Fassa) búgol ‘bellowing’ (bugolér), škrévet ‘creaking’ (škrevedér) (Elwert, 1972, p. 166 §320), (Upper Egd.) clam ‘call’ (clamer), güstra ‘combat’ (güstrer); Srd. lássa ‘bequest’ (lassare), amméntu ‘memory’ (ammentare). The origin of the final -e in many Spanish and Portuguese derivatives remains uncertain (Pharies, 2002, pp. 181–183); compare Sp. embarque ‘boarding’ (embarcar); Pt. derrame ‘leakage’ (derramar). In Old Provençal, however, the final -e in dopte ‘doubt’ (doptar), tempre ‘tempering’ (temprar) and others may be an epenthetic vowel (Adams, 1913, pp. 544–545). As for the Spanish abstract nouns in -eo, they are in part also denominal derivatives, for example, dedeo ‘agility of the fingers’ (dedo); compare Pharies (2002, pp. 222–223).

Nominalized infinitives can likewise be traced back to Late and Medieval Latin; solitary examples can already be found in Plautus and Cicero (compare GSI, 1966–1969, 2, §701). They have concrete or abstract meaning, for example, biberes ‘beverage’ (Regula Benedicti), haberes ‘property’ (Spain, 8th century), licere ‘permission’ (Italy, 10th century) (Löfstedt, 1950, p. 129). They are subject to declension and vacillate between masculine and feminine gender (singulas biberes/singulos biberes, cf. ThLL, 1900–, 2, p. 1954). The conversion of infinitives to nouns with abstract meaning is found in all Romance languages. It is least common in Modern French, where all examples are lexicalized (repentir ‘repentance’, baiser ‘kiss’, devoir ‘duty’, and others), and most widely spread in Romanian, where the long form of the infinitive always has the function of a verbal abstract (cântare ‘singing’ versus a cânta ‘to sing’, adunare ‘collection’, durere ‘pain’, gândire ‘thinking’, îndurare ‘compassion’, etc.). In Old French, however, the conversion of infinitives was absolutely possible and the results were subject to declension (li levers/le lever). For a detailed study of the nominalized infinitive in Old French, compare Buridant (2005). The remaining Romance languages have maintained the possibility of using an infinitive as a verbal abstract; compare GRS, 1890–1902, 2, p. 438 §392. The vacillation of gender observable in Latin persists in Romance: nominalized infinitives are mostly masculine; in Romanian, however, they are feminine. Due to the degree of lexicalization, nominalized infinitives show a different morphosyntactic behavior. In Old Italian, it was possible to pluralize certain infinitives (i soffriri ‘suffering’, i baciari). The more they tend to be combined with adjectives and genitive attributes, the more their lexicalization is evolving (un gran battere; allo spuntar del giorno). The transition, however, is fluent: al leggere di quella lettera and al leggere quella lettera both seem to be possible; compare GSI, 1966–1969, 2, §701.

As for verbal abstract nouns, the nominalization of gerunds is of minor importance in the Romance languages. In certain Italian dialects, -anda and -enda seem to be equivalent to -ata: (Abruzz.) fijjanna ‘birth’, vussannǝ ‘knocking’, metenna ‘harvest’ (GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1098f.), (Bresc.) sapanda ‘digging over’, seganda ‘mowing’, stonǧanda ‘shearing’ (GRS, 1890–1902, 2, p. 551 §512). In Raeto-Romance (Upper Egd.), -anda has a durative meaning: bavanda ‘drinking’, scrivanda ‘scribbling’; compare Friulan freànde ‘massage’, leànde ‘binding’ (De Leidi, 1984, p. 38). From Old Provencal, some further examples can be quoted: montan ‘increase’, levan ‘raise’.

3. Quality Nouns

In accordance with the definition established by Rainer (2015, p. 1271), the term ‘quality noun’ should refer to nouns denoting a quality (e.g., Fr. dignité ‘dignity’, It. timidezza ‘shyness’, Sp. modestia ‘modesty’, Pt. azedume ‘sourness’, Ro. roşeaţă ‘redness’) as well as a state (e.g., Fr. grossesse ‘pregnancy’, It. vecchiaia ‘old age’, Sp. juventud ‘youth’, Pt. escuridão ‘darkness’, Ro. bătrâneţe ‘old age’). There is, however, no sharp delineation between quality nouns, action nouns, or status nouns: Lat. deitas ‘deity’ (deus) tends to be understood as a status noun, whereas divinitas ‘divinity’ (divinus) would actually be classified as a quality noun, because quality nouns are typically derived from adjectives. Fr. dominance can denote both a quality (‘being dominant’) and an action (‘dominating’); compare Rainer (2015, pp. 1269–1270). As a matter of fact, a number of abstract-forming suffixes can be found in both categories. In the following, the extent to which the formation of action nouns in Romance either follows models inherited from Latin or develops new morphological devices will be considered.

3.1 Latin Tradition

The following suffixes were already used in Latin to form quality nouns and are found in all Romance languages.

-ia (inertia ‘ignorance’, desīdia ‘idleness’). In Latin, ´-ia was unstressed. Later, the Greek variant of this suffix, namely -ía (elegía ‘elegy’, academía ‘academy’), became common; compare section 2.2 and HLSMA, 1996–2004, 2, VI §43.2. Romance quality nouns that require ´-ia for phonetic reasons were not derived in the individual languages, but already in Latin (Fr. force ‘strength’ < fortia, It. angoscia ‘anguish’ < angustia, Sp. vergüenza ‘shame’ < verecundia) (GRS, 1890–1902, 2, pp. 450–451 §405), or they are learned (Sp. soberbia ‘pride’, angustia ‘anguish’, cf. Pharies, 2002, pp. 297–298). Only the later form -ía was able to become productive, partly in the extended form -aría (< -ariu + -ía, cf. section 2.2 and Pharies, 2002, pp. 225–227). It is added to adjectival and sometimes to nominal stems: Fr. modestie ‘modesty’, maladie ‘illness’; It. allegria ‘happiness’, furberia ‘cunningness’, (Nap.) cechía ‘blindness’, sordía ‘deafness’ (GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1076); Sp. glotonería ‘gluttony’, villanía ‘impudence’; OPt. grandia ‘greatness’ (Huber, 1933, p. 242 §435), Pt. soberbia ‘pride’, bisonharia ‘inexperience’; Ro. avuţie ‘wealth’, beţie ‘drunkenness’; OPrv. diablia ‘deviltry’, ribaudia ‘shamelessness’ (ribaut), meichantaria ‘badness’, Prv. foulié ‘folly’, courtesié ‘courtesy’; Cat. amorosia ‘infatuation’, cortesia ‘courtesy’; Raeto-Romance (Upper Egd.) daschütlia ‘laziness’, tuctaria ‘stupidity’; Srd. (Log.) galantía ‘youth’, (Log. Cpd.) lokkería ‘stupidity’.

-ant-ia/-ent-ia (constantia ‘changelessness’, potentia ‘power; capacity’). The extended form of -ia stems from suffixed participles used as adjectives (constans, potens + -iaconstant-ia, potent-iaconst-antia, pot-entia). This type developed fully in Late Latin and remains highly productive in Romance (cf. HLSMA, 1996–2004, 2, VI §44): Fr. endurance ‘endurance’, urgence ‘emergency’; It. abbondanza ‘abundance’, confidenza ‘familiarity’; Sp. semejanza ‘resemblance’, menudencia ‘pedantry’; Pt. alegrança ‘happiness’, parecença ‘resemblance’, ignorância ‘ignorance’; Ro. cutezanţă ‘bravery’; OPrv. plendansa ‘fullness’, folensa ‘folly’; Cat. confiança ‘familiarity’, indulgència ‘leniency’; Raeto-Romance (Upper Egd.) avriaunza ‘drunkenness’, beadentscha ‘bliss’. Some of the formations are derived from verbs with stative meaning (e.g., Sp. semejanza, Pt. parecença). The variants in -ancia, -encia, and so forth are learned; in Sardinian, the suffix exists exclusively in the borrowed form (-ants(i)a, -ents(i)a < Sp. It., cf. Wagner, 1952, pp. 115–117 § 132). Compare section 2.1.

-ĭtie(m)/-ĭtia(m) (tristities ‘sadness’, pigritia ‘sluggishness’). This suffix was very common in Latin and forms abstract nouns on adjectival bases. In Romance, both variants persist, but with different distribution: (-ĭtia(m):) OFr. richoise ‘wealth’, Fr. sagesse ‘wisdom’, faiblesse ‘weakness’; It. durezza ‘hardness’, bellezza ‘beauty’; Sp. agudeza ‘sharpness’, fiereza ‘ferocity’; Pt. limpeza ‘cleanliness’ escureza ‘darkness’; Ro. dulceaţă ‘sweetness’, albeaţă ‘whiteness’; OPrv. drecheza ‘uprightness’, feloneza ‘cruelty’, Prv. belesso ‘beauty’, soutiso ‘silliness’; Cat. dolcesa ‘sweetness’, feblesa ‘weakness’; Raeto-Romance (Fassa) lengétsa ‘length’, (Upper Egd.) gravezza ‘gravity’, leidezza ‘happiness’; Srd. (Log.) boníssia ‘goodness’, klaríssia ‘clearness’; (-ĭtie(m):) It. (ORmc.) forteze ‘force’, (ONap.) magrecze ‘thinness’, (Velletri) vecchieze ‘old age’ (GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1153); Sp. timidez ‘shyness’, rapidez ‘speed’, vejez ‘old age’; OPt. grandece ‘greatness’ (Huber, 1933, p. 243 §435), Pt. aridez ‘dryness’, madurez ‘maturity’. In all languages, learned or borrowed variants of this suffix can be found (cf. GRS, 1890–1902, 2, pp. 519–521 §480–481): Fr. -ise, -ice (franchise ‘honesty’, avarice ‘avarice’); It. -izia (letizia ‘happiness’), -igia (< Fr. -ise) (franchigia ‘liberty’); Sp.- icia (avaricia ‘greed’), -icie (canicie ‘grayness’); Pt. -ice (< Fr. -ise) (velhice ‘old age’); Ro. -eţe (< Fr. -esse/It. -ezza) (tandreţe ‘tenderness’, tinereţe ‘youth’, frumuseţe ‘beauty’).

-tas, -tate (nobilitas ‘nobility’, celeritas ‘quickness’). This type remains widespread in the Romance languages. The suffix is added mostly to adjectival stems, but sometimes also to nominal and verbal stems: Fr. beauté ‘beauty’, fermeté ‘firmness’; It. fedeltà ‘faithfulness’, bontà ‘goodness’, (Tic.) strachedá tiredness’, vegedá ‘old age’; Sp. arbitrariedad ‘arbitrariness’, caballerosidad ‘chivalry’; Pt. leviandade ‘lightness’, ruindade ‘wickedness’ (ruim); Ro. dreptate ‘justice’, greutate ‘weight’, răutate ‘malice’; OPrv. malvestat ‘badness’, avaretat ‘avarice’, greugetat ‘difficulty’ (greujar ‘to make heavy’), Prv. pureta ‘purity’, rapideta ‘speed’; Cat. curtedat ‘shortness’, sequedat ‘dryness’; Raeto-Romance (Upper Egd.) fosdet ‘falseness’; nardet ‘foolishness’. In Sardinian, the suffix does not seem to be indigenous; compare Wagner (1952, p. 102 §107).

-tudo, -tudine (magnitudo ‘greatness’, fortitudo ‘strength’). Deadjectival abstract nouns of this type are less common in Romance: OFr. espessetume ‘thickness’, Fr. amertume ‘bitterness’; OSp. franquedumbre ‘liberty’, feedumbre ‘ugliness’; OPt. dulcidõe ‘sweetness’, Pt. frouxidão ‘weakness’, rouquidão ‘hoarseness’; Raeto-Romance (Surs.) štrenǧadińa ‘narrowness’, (Egd.) yuventüna ‘youth’ (GRS, 1890–1902, 2, p. 538 §495). For the difficult phonetic evolution of this suffix, compare Pharies (2002, p. 174). It is quite difficult to separate the results of -tudo from those of -umen. For French -ume, Pharies (2002, p. 174) postulated a crossing of both suffixes; compare also Meyer-Lübke (1966, p. 73 §101). The learned result of -tudo in Italian is -tudine (quietudine ‘quiet’, gratitudine ‘gratitude’) and in Spanish -tud (quietud ‘quiet’, fortitud ‘strength’). The latter seems to be influenced by the learned suffix -tud, which goes back to Lat. -tus, -tute (juventus ‘youth’, senectus ‘old age’; Sp. juventud, sene(c)tud ‘id.’); compare Pharies (2002, pp. 500–501). Learned results of -tus, -tute can also be found in Italian (gioventù ‘youth’, virtù ‘virtue’, OIt. gioventude, vertude ‘id.’).

-edo, -edine (pigredo ‘slothfulness’, dulcedo ‘sweetness’). This suffix seems to have survived in Old Portuguese and in certain modern dialects: OPt. amarguém ‘bitterness’, tristén ‘sadness’, magrém ‘leanness’; Gal. grandén ‘big size’, humedén ‘humidity’; West Ast. clarén ‘clarity; glare’, mourén ‘blackness’, rouquén ‘hoarseness’. According to Malkiel (1985, pp. 409–411), -én represents a kind of crossing of -edine and -agine. The hypothesis of the survival of Lat. -edo in Portuguese may be supported by evidence from Hispanic Latin: Alvaro of Córdoba (9th century) used molledo ‘softness’ and horredo ‘abomination’ (horridus); compare HLSMA, 1996–2004, 2 VI, §52.

3.2 Innovative Processes

For several derivational types that originally form action nouns, a semantic extension toward ‘quality’ can be observed:

-or, -ore (candor ‘whiteness’, calor ‘heat’). In Latin, this suffix is added originally to verbal stems (cf. section 2.1), but in Romance, deadjectival derivatives are even more widespread. As a matter of fact, derivatives like frigor ‘cold’ (frigere) could easily be associated with frigidus (thence frigdor), albor ‘whiteness’ (albescere) with albus, and so forth (cf. Pharies, 2002, p. 442). Subsequently, quality nouns of this type can be found in all Romance languages: Fr. largeur ‘breadth’, minceur ‘slimness’; It. spessore ‘thickness’, fortore ‘pungent smell’; Sp. blancor ‘whiteness’, dulzor ‘sweetness’; Pt. frescor ‘freshness’, amargor ‘bitterness’; Ro. răcoare ‘coolness’, strâmtoare ‘narrowness’; Oprv. longor ‘length’, velhor ‘old age’, Prv. frejour ‘coldness’, tristour ‘sadness’; Cat. blancor ‘whiteness’, magror ‘leanness’; Raeto-Romance (Upper Egd.) psantur ‘weight’, clarur ‘lightness’; Srd. (Log.) agrióre ‘sourness’, nieḍḍóre ‘black’. In Gallo-Romance, Raeto-Romance, Romanian, and Catalan, the derivatives are feminine.

-ago, -agine (serrago ‘sawdust’), -igo (vertigo ‘giddiness’). In Latin, derivatives in -igo denoted illnesses and physical states, whereas -ago originally formed collective nouns and designations of plants; compare section 2.2. In Italian and Sardinian, derivatives formed by both suffixes also denote qualities with negative connotation and especially complaints: It. cascaggine ‘exhaustion’, sordaggine ‘deafness’, dimenticaggine ‘forgetfulness’, sfacciataggine ‘insolence’, impetiggine ‘skin rash’; Srd. (Nuor.) berrígine ‘mood’, asprígine ‘barrenness’, makkígine ‘madness’, (Log.) berríne ‘mood’, mudíne ‘dumbness’.

-amen (linteamen ‘linen cloth’), -imen (regimen ‘control’), -umen (tegumen ‘covering; cover’). This group of suffixes originally formed verbal abstract nouns and collective nouns; compare section 2.1. Isolated examples of quality nouns have already been formed in Latin (gravamen ‘heaviness’, purgamen ‘purity’); compare Rainer (2018, p. 407). In Romance, quality nouns mostly of the -imen/-umen-type can also be found, among them illnesses: It. tenerume ‘affectation’, nerume ‘darkness, black’, (Lecc.) stracciatúmene ‘tiredness’, mazzetúmene ‘thinness’ (GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1089); Pt. pesadume ‘weight’, azedume ‘bitterness’; Ro. adâncime ‘depth’, limpezime ‘clarity’; Oprv. amarum ‘bitterness’, frescum ‘freshness’; Raeto-Romance (Fassa) verdúm ‘jaundice’ (Elwert, 1972, p. 177 §343); Srd. (Cpd.) grussámini ‘thickness’ frižidúmini ‘coldness’, (Log.) surdímine ‘deafness’.

-ura (scriptura ‘writing’, cursura ‘running’). Owing to the phonetic and semantic similarity with -or, the -ura-type also forms quality nouns in all Romance languages except Sardinian: OFr. hauture ‘height’, Fr. courbature ‘muscle ache’, froidure ‘coldness’; It. bruttura ‘nastiness’, bassura ‘profligacy’; Sp. amargura ‘sadness’, blandura ‘softness’; Pt. doçura ‘sweetness’, tristura ‘sadness’; Ro. strâmtură ‘narrowness’; Oprv. falsura ‘falsity’, frejura ‘coldness’, Prv. negruro ‘blackness’, frescuro ‘freshness’; Cat. malura ‘illness’, foscura ‘darkness’; Raeto-Romance (Upper Egd.) largüra ‘spaciousness’; bgerüra ‘multiplicity’.

-mentu (incrementum ‘growth’, fundamentum ‘foundation’). The -mentum-type is known for forming action and result nouns (cf. section 2.1) but also produces some quality nouns in several Romance languages: Fr. abattement ‘despondency’; Sp. atrevimiento ‘bravery’; Pt. descoramento ‘paleness’; Cat. astorament ‘daze’; Raeto-Romance (Upper Egd.) ardimaint ‘cheekiness’.

-io, -ione (laudatio ‘praising’, auditio ‘hearing’). At least in Old French, the -io-type occasionally formed deadjectival nouns or even deverbal nouns that denote qualities: OFr. aveugloison ‘cécité’, surdoison ‘surdité’; aigrison ‘sourness’, meneison ‘dysentery’, aatison ‘ardor’ (cf. Burdy, 2013a, p. 237). Some of the learned words of the -io-type also denote qualities by means of metonymy, for example, Fr. précision ‘exactitude’: OFr. ‘cutting’, cf. Lat. praecisio ‘id.’; érudition ‘scholarship’: OFr. ‘teaching’; compare Lat. eruditio ‘id.’; discrétion ‘discretion’: OFr. ‘segregation’; compare Lat. discretio ‘id.’

Lat. -o, -one (manduco ‘glutton’, palpo ‘flatterer’). The origin of abstract nouns of this type is not clear; compare section 2.2. There seems to be a connection with derivatives of the -io-type (cf. Pharies, 2002, p. 431): OFr. randon ‘impetuousness’ (randir), Oprv. randon ‘id.’, fondon ‘depth’, malicion ‘wickedness’ (malicia).

A number of suffixes that form relational adjectives in Latin have undergone a functional extension toward abstractness. This must have taken place by means of ellipsis: (tempus) aestivum → Sp. Pt. estío, Prv. estiu ‘summer’, * (sensus) coraticus ‘senses of the heart’ → OFr. corage ‘mind; courage’, and so forth (cf. GRS, 1890–1902, 2, pp. 437–438 §391; GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1060; Meyer-Lübke, 1966, pp. 61–62 §87; Pharies, 2002, p. 127). Of course, it is unclear which noun has been omitted.

-aticu (viaticus ‘relating to a journey’, lunaticus ‘moon-struck’). This suffix preserves its adjective-forming function to a limited extent in Old French and Italian (blé ivernage, uva lugliatica; cf. Meyer-Lübke, 1966, pp. 94–95 §129; GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1131). In several Romance languages, derivatives of this type that denote qualities can be found: Fr. courage ‘courage’, langage ‘way of speaking’; It. coraggio ‘courage’, linguaggio ‘way of speaking’; Sp. coraje ‘courage’; Pt. friagem (f.) ‘coldness’, hospedagem (f.) ‘hospitality’; Oprv. vilanatge ‘coarseness’, oltratge ‘outrage’ (oltra); Cat. mestratge ‘skill’. These formations seem to radiate from Gallo-Romance, because It. -aggio, Sp. -aje, and Pt. -agem are not native phonetic results of the suffix. In Provençal, the variant -ige (< -iticu) can also be found (a(i)ssige ‘sourness’, palige ‘paleness’). The gender change in Portuguese may have been provoked by -agem in imagem (f.) and others (cf. GRS, 1890–1902, 2, p. 523 §482). The -aticu-type also forms action and status nouns; compare sections 2.2 and 4.2.

-aria (aquaria ‘of, for water’, lactaria ‘milky’). The -ariu/-aria-type continues to form adjectives, agent, and instrument nouns in Romance. In some languages, however, this type also forms quality nouns, among them illnesses and complaints: It. vecchiaia ‘old age’; Sp. dentera, pechuguera (cf. Rainer, 2016, p. 422); Pt. cegueira ‘blindness’, asneira ‘asininity’; Oprv. calviera ‘baldness’, acabiera ‘perfection’ (acabar ‘to complete’); Cat. ballera ‘desire to dance’, xerrera ‘desire to chat’ (deverbal formations); Raeto-Romance (Frl.) grociàrie ‘hoarseness’, seciàrie ‘drought’ (De Leidi, 1984, p. 55); Srd. grusséra ‘thickness’, imbriagéra ‘drunkenness’ (< Cat.; cf. Wagner, 1952, p. 81 §84). In Friulan, there are also derivatives in -èrie that denote physical states (rauchèrie ‘hoarseness’, strachèrie ‘tiredness’, tristèrie ‘nastiness’; cf. De Leidi, 1984, p. 56). Corresponding examples can be found in Italian and its dialects (cattivéria ‘wickedness’, OUmb. convenéria, Oven. tristéria, brutéria, which might be influenced by -erium; cf. GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1115 and section 2.1). Given that -àrie, -èrie are not native results in Friulan (cf. Benincà, 1989, p. 568), one has to suppose that the Friulan derivatives are influenced by the neighboring Italian dialects. Further learned derivatives of the -aria-type are attested in Catalan and Sardinian, namely designations for dimensions: Cat. altària ‘height’, grandària ‘size’, llargària ‘length’ (cf. Moll, 1991, p. 184 § 372); Srd. largária ‘breadth’, amprária ‘width’. In Sardinian, this type is borrowed from Catalan (cf. Wagner, 1952, pp. 81–82 §85).

-aneu (mediterraneus ‘inland’), -ineu (fagineus ‘of the beech tree’), -oneu (ultroneus ‘of one’s own accord’). This group of suffixes forms not only Romance action nouns (cf. section 2.2), but also quality nouns in Raeto-Romance, Italo-Romance, and Provençal. It stands out that many of the derivatives denote qualities with negative connotation or diseases: It. (Calabr.) umertagna ‘humility’, brafagna ‘hoarseness’, (Nap.) seccagna ‘aridity’ (cf. GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1067), (Bellun.) scuragna ‘darkness’, (OPiem.) pautrogna ‘vileness’, (Piem.) marsogna ‘rot’, anbriacògna ‘drunkenness’, sbursògna ‘breath difficulty (of horses)’, (Tic.) balurdögna ‘dizziness’ (cf. GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1069); Oprv. malanha ‘evil, pain’ (mal), Prv. malagno ‘unease, anxiety’, loungagno ‘slowness’; Raeto-Romance (Upper Egd.) fanzögn ‘childish nature’, slaschögn ‘wildness’; Srd. (Nuor.) ammoligíndzu ‘dizziness’, (Barb.) imprindzóndzu ‘pregnancy’.

*-oceu. Abstract nouns of this type are restricted to Raeto-Romance and certain Upper Italian dialects; compare section 2.2. Nouns ending in -öz that denote qualities can be found in the dialects spoken in Grisons and Ticino (cf. Jochems, 1959, p. 208): cumplimantöz ‘camp’, sgögnöz ‘slowness’, sgurdinöz ‘turbidity’; (Bellinzona) bañöts ‘dampness’.

-ivu (captivus ‘of captives’, aestivus ‘pertaining to summer’). Quality nouns of this type are as exceptional as action nouns (cf. section 2.2) and form a quite heterogeneous group: It. espressiva ‘articulateness’; Sp. estío ‘summer’, bravío ‘fierceness’; Pt. estio ‘summer’, feitio ‘character, style’, poderio ‘jurisdiction; wealth’; Prv. Cat. estiu; Srd. istiu ‘summer’. The derivatives denoting ‘summer’ are, of course, Latin formations (tempus aestivum). For the further productivity of the -ivu-type, compare Pharies (2002, pp. 344–346).

-ĭciu/-īciu (laterĭcius ‘made or consisting of bricks’, adventīcius ‘foreign’): Besides deriving a number of Romance action nouns (cf. section 2.2), this suffix can also be found in a few quality nouns: It. (Ven.) golosezzo ‘gluttony’, poltronezzo ‘idleness’ (cf. GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1039); Oprv. fades(c) ‘fatuity’ (fat ‘foolish’), diables ‘deviltry’, privadesc ‘intimacy’, ufanesc(a) ‘arrogance, presumption’; alegresa ‘happiness’, joinesa ‘youth’ (or is -esa a mere variant of -eza < -ĭtia?); Cat. xerradissa ‘garulousness’ (-issa < -īcia); Raeto-Romance (Frl.) rabièz ‘rage’, redrosèz ‘trouble’ (De Leidi, 1984, pp. 89–90). For the juxtaposition of -es, -esc, -esca in Provençal, compare Adams (1913, pp. 183–184, 186–188), who explains -esc(a) by means of Lat. -iscu/Germ. -isk. Given that -iscu does not appear in the realms of abstract nouns otherwise and that there is a certain number of doublets (fades(c), omenes(c), parentes(c); cf. section 4.2), the phenomenon could also be nothing but pure graphic confusion.

Derivation types of non-Latin origin for forming quality nouns practically do not exist, except OFr. -ine (< Germ. -eins) and the rare Ro. -eală (< OBlg. -ĕlĭ); compare section 2.2: OFr. desertine ‘solitude’, famine ‘hunger’; Ro. acreală ‘sourness’, amăreală ‘bitterness’.

Conversion (cf. section 2.2) likewise appears in the realm of quality nouns. The conversion of non-derived adjectives is practically always possible throughout the individual languages; compare Fr. le chaud, It. il bello, Sp. el sublime, and so forth. Nominalized infinitives can also denote qualities in individual cases; compare the potere-type (‘power, capability’): Fr. pouvoir, It. potere, Sp. Pt. Cat. poder, Ro. putere, Prv. poudé, Srd. podere. As far as suffixless deverbal formation is concerned (Fr. achat, It. invio, Sp. Ayuda, etc.), it is worth mentioning that some of those abstract nouns secondarily denote qualities: Sp. aseo ‘cleanliness’ (asear); Ro. învăţ ‘(bad) habit’; Srd. (Cpd.) mendígu ‘poverty’. In Spanish, -eo is even added to certain nominal stems (dedeo ‘agility of the fingers playing an instrument’; compare Pharies, 2002, p. 223).

Occasionally, denominal derivatives of the -ata-type (cf. section 2.2) assume the meaning of quality nouns: It. (Ven.) aśenada ‘ignorance’, (Tic.) stübidada ‘madness’, (Mil.) veggiada ‘old age’ (GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1129).

4. Status Nouns

Status nouns are derived from nouns and denote a position or rank in a hierarchical system (cf. Luschützky, 2015, pp. 1286, 1294). It is important to emphasize the difference between the latter (e.g., Fr. episcopat ‘episcopate’, It. cuginanza ‘cousinshood’, Sp. almirantazgo ‘admiralship’, Pt. servidão ‘serfdom’, Ro. preoţie ‘priesthood’) and other abstract nouns that do not denote a status but a state or condition (e.g., Fr. chaleur ‘warmth’, It. stanchezza ‘tiredness’, Sp. pechuguera ‘cough’, Pt. tristura ‘sadness’, Ro. beţie ‘drunkenness’). Rainer (2015, p. 1271) proposed classifying these nouns together with nouns denoting qualities (cf. section 3). However, many borderline cases between ‘state’ and ‘status’ can be found: while Fr. parrainage, Sp. padrinazgo ‘godparenthood’ undoubtedly represent status nouns, Fr. enfance, Sp. infancia ‘childhood’ for instance are rather understood as nouns denoting a state than a status, because the temporal meaning as an age bracket is prevalent; compare Luschützky (2015, pp. 1290, 1293). Whereas Rainer seems to have excluded such cases from the category of status nouns (cf. Rainer, 1993, p. 511, 2004, pp. 241–242), Luschützky (2015, p. 1298) considered nouns denoting age brackets as semantic extensions of original status nouns. As a matter of fact, status nouns often display a secondary temporal meaning (Sp. papado ‘papacy’, It. episcopato ‘episcopate’). Further typical semantic extensions of status nouns are the shift toward locality (Medieval Lat. comitatus ‘earldom’, ‘count’s land’), and collectivity (Medieval Lat. clericatus ‘clergy’, It. baronaggio ‘barony’, ‘barons as a whole’); compare Luschützky (2015, pp. 1299–1300). The examples given up to this point already show that there is no suffix reserved exclusively for status nouns. Rather, the suffixes that form status nouns are also to be found in the categories of quality and action nouns.

4.1 Latin Tradition

Just as Neither Romance languages nor Latin possess an independent suffix for status nouns. The only salient morphological pattern in this context is the addition of -atus to nominal stems.

-atus (consulatus ‘consulship’, pontificatus ‘pontificate’). In Latin, denominal abstract nouns are still exceptional. They denote ranks and titles (cf. Meyer-Lübke, 1966, p. 58 §84). The -atus-type then becomes more frequent in Medieval Latin (diaconatus ‘rank of priest’, ducatus ‘dukedom’; cf. HLSMA, 1996–2004, 2 VI, §56) and in most Romance languages: Fr. comté ‘earldom’, évêché ‘bishopric’; It. padronato ‘entrepreneurship’, apprendistato ‘apprenticeship’; Sp. rectorado ‘rectorship’, marquesado ‘marquessate’; Pt. baroado ‘barony’, arciprestado ‘position of archpriest’; Ro. voievodat ‘principality’; OPrv. arquidiquenat ‘archdeaconate’, prebostat ‘office of provost’, Prv. evescat ‘bishopric’; Cat. bisbat ‘episcopate’, comtat ‘earldom’. In French, -at is found in some learned derivatives (consulat ‘consulate’, prolétariat ‘proletariat’); compare Meyer-Lübke (1966, p. 59 §85). The same goes for Sp. -ato (sultanato ‘sultanate’; cf. Pharies, 2002, p. 122). The Romanian derivatives of this type are of recent formation; compare Fischer (1989, p. 36).

4.2 Innovative Processes

As there are no clear Latin models for the derivation of status nouns, the Romance languages use different abstract-forming suffixes for that purpose. Among these suffixes are:

-ía. This suffix forms Romance quality and action nouns (cf. sections 2.2 and 3.1), but some of these derivatives also denote status from Medieval Latin onward (sacristia ‘rank, office of a sexton’, comitia ‘earldom’, capellania ‘rank, office of a chaplain’; cf. HLSMA, 1996–2004, 2 VI, §43. This type exists in several Romance languages: OFr. baillie ‘guardianship’, Fr. seigneurie ‘seigniory’; It. borghesia ‘bourgeoisie’, abbazia ‘rank, office of an abbot’; Sp. alcaldía ‘mayoralty’, escribanía ‘rank, office of a scribe’; Pt. senhoria ‘lordship’; Ro. văduvie ‘widowhood’; OPrv. frairia ‘brothership’, preveiria ‘priesthood’, Prv. barounié ‘barony’, segnourié ‘seigniory’; Cat. baronia ‘barony’, senyoria ‘seigniory’.

-ant-ia/-ent-ia. This type frequently comes up in the realms of Romance action and quality nouns; compare sections 2.1 and 3.1. The status nouns of this type in part display a collective meaning, too: Fr. présidence ‘presidency’; It. vedovanza ‘widowhood’, luogotenenza ‘governorship’, dirigenza ‘management’; Sp. comandancia ‘headquarters’, intendencia ‘directorship’; Pt. gerência ‘management’.

-aticu. Romance derivatives of the -aticu-type denote actions and qualities (cf. sections 2.2 and 3.2) but can also be found in the category of status nouns: Fr. vasselage ‘vassalage’, cousinage ‘cousinhood’; It. comparatico ‘godparenthood’, baronaggio ‘barony’; Sp. almirantazgo ‘admiralship’, padrinazgo ‘godfathership’; Pt. vilanagem ‘peasantry’ (vilão ‘peasant’), amádigo ‘position of nurse to the son of a noble’ (ama ‘governess, nurse’); OPrv. preveiratge ‘priesthood’, bailiatge ‘stewartship’ (baile ‘intendant’); Cat. fadrinatge ‘position of bachelor’; Raeto-Romance (Upper Egd.) cusdrinedi ‘cousinhood’. For the different phonetic results of -aticu in the individual languages, compare section 3.2.

-tudo; -tus. Besides some Romance quality nouns of this type (cf. section 3.1), there are very few derivatives whose meaning is more like status nouns: Fr. servitude ‘serfdom’, négritude ‘negritude’; It. (Sic.) sirvitútini ‘serfdom’ (GSI, 1966–1969, 3, §1149; cf. also Emmi, 2011, pp. 141–142); Sp. servidumbre ‘serfdom’; Pt. servidão ‘serfdom’. In Italian, certain doublets in - (< -tus, -tutem) can be found (servitù ‘serfdom’, schiavitù ‘slavery’). The French and Italian forms are all more or less learned; compare section 3.1.

-ĭciu. In Provençal and Raeto-Romance (Friulan), besides some quality nouns (cf. section 3.2), even status nouns of this type can be found: OPrv. omenes(c) ‘homage, vassalage’, parentes(c) ‘relationship’ (> Sp. parentesco; cf. DCECH, 1980–1991, 4, p. 404), vezinesc ‘neighborhood’; OCat. parentes(c); Frl. coparèz ‘godparenthood’ (De Leidi, 1984, p. 89). For the variation between -es and -esc in Provençal, compare section 3.2.

5. Abstract Nouns Denoting Benefits, Duties, and Rights

Beginning with Latin, some of the abstract-forming suffixes also form nouns that denote benefits, duties, and rights; compare -aticum: Lat. viaticum ‘provision for a journey (food or money)’, cenaticum ‘money received instead of a food ration’ (HLSMA, 1996–2004, 2 VI, §70.2); -io: glebatio ‘tax levied on land’. The -aticu-type arises from elliptic constructions; compare (tributum) balneaticum ‘tax on bath water’ (Pharies, 2002, p. 127). In the Middle Ages, this special function of abstract nouns was extended further; compare piscaticum ‘fishing tax’, bancaticum ‘stall rent’, basatura ‘contribution of the betrothed’ (HLSMA, 1996–2004, 2 VI, §70.2). In the Romance languages, several corresponding derivatives can be found:

-aticu. OFr. fromentage ‘tax paid on the soil where wheat is cultivated’, Fr. avénage ‘tax paid in oats’; It. terratico ‘property rental’, ancoraggio ‘anchorage tax’; Sp. portazgo ‘road toll’, almacenaje ‘storage charge’; OPt. achadego ‘reward for the finder’ (Huber, 1933, p. 243 §435), Pt. padruádigo ‘right of patronage’, portagem ‘right of entry’; OPrv. garbatge ‘tax on sheaves’, civadatge ‘tax on oats’; Cat. pasturatge ‘pasture tax’, pontatge ‘bridge toll’; Raeto-Romance (Upper Egd.) ervedi ‘pasturage tax’, furnedi ‘baker wages’; Srd. terrádigu ‘leasehold rent’ (< It.; cf. Wagner, 1952, p. 91 §97). For the different phonetic results of -aticu in the individual languages, compare section 3.2.

-ura. Raeto-Romance (Upper Egd.) aradüra ‘ploughman wages’, cottüra ‘baker wages’.

-io, -ione. OFr. avaleson ‘right to install fish traps’, dimoison ‘right to collect the tithe’, müison ‘charge paid in foods’, salloison ‘salt tax’ (cf. Burdy 2013a, 240s.).

A profound analysis of abstract nouns denoting benefits, rights, and duties can be found in Fleischman (1977), with some additional remarks in Burdy (2013a, pp. 250–251).

6. Synthesis

The synopsis of Romance abstract noun formation clearly shows that the derivation patterns for action, quality, and status nouns that already existed in Latin (called ‘Latin tradition’ in this survey) are rooted most strongly in the Romance languages (cf. figures 2-4): The better part of these suffixes continue to form abstract nouns in almost all Romance languages (action nouns in -mentu, -io, -antia/-entia, etc.; quality nouns in -ía, -ities/-itia, -tas, etc.; status nouns in -atu). Within the category of action nouns, Lat. -eriu is a noteworthy exception insofar as it persists only in Gallo-Romance (in Modern French extinct) and Italian.

Within the group called ‘innovation’ here, it seems reasonable to differentiate between morphological innovations already in use in the days of Vulgar Latin and those that were realized later and only in individual Romance languages. Due to their enormous spread and the evidence from Late Latin sources, the following innovative morphological devices can be labeled as devices still linked to Vulgar Latin:

Action nouns: Conversion of past participles, conversion of infinitives, deverbal formation without suffixes (cf. section 2.2). Derivatives of the -ía-type that denote actions (e.g., Fr. tromperie ‘deceit’, It. pulizia ‘cleaning’) seem to be exceptional only in Romanian (cf. section 2.2).

Quality nouns: -or added to adjectival stems, conversion of adjectives (cf. section 3.2).

Status nouns: Derivatives of the -aticu-type (e.g., Fr. vasselage ‘vassalage’, Sp. almirantazgo ‘admiralship’) are missing only in Romanian and Sardinian (cf. section 4.2).

Among the more recent innovative types of Romance abstract noun formation, the group of suffixes previously forming adjectives is the most outstanding (-oriu, -ariu, -iciu, etc.); compare sections 2.2 and 3.2. The only type of (probable) Latin origin that is present in just one Romance language is *-oceu in Raeto-Romance (üerlöz ‘barking’, sclingöz ‘ringing’, etc.; cf. sections 2.2 and 3.2). Derivational types borrowed from non-Romance languages are exceptional and are displayed only in Gallo-Romance and Romanian abstract noun formation (OFr. -ine, Ro. -eală, etc.; cf. sections 2.2 and 3.2).

In Latin, numerous suffixes were bound to particular parts of speech. The suffixes -io and -ura, for instance, were primarily combined with verbal stems, whereas -tas and -itia were added to adjectival stems. Since Late Latin, some of these restrictions have been relaxed: The use of stressed -ía (astrología ‘astronomy’, monarchía ‘autocracy’) and -aticu (silvaticus ‘of or belonging to a wood or to trees’) has been extended to deverbal derivation (It. ruberia ‘stealing’, Fr. lavage ‘washing’, etc.), while -or (tremor ‘trembling’) passed from deverbal to deadjectival derivation (Sp. dulzor ‘sweetness’, Ro. răcoare ‘coolness’, etc.). However, other restrictions have never been abandoned: -itia (pigritia ‘sloth’) and -tas (celeritas ‘quickness’) remain reserved for deadjectival derivation on the whole (Fr. sagesse ‘wisdom’, Sp. aspereza ‘roughness’, It. artisticità ‘artistry’, Ro. dreptate ‘justice’, etc.).

Insofar as the meaning of abstract nouns is concerned, possible semantic restrictions play a secondary role, as it follows from figure 5: Except for conversion, there are few derivational patterns that are strictly reserved for only one semantic function. Rather, abstract-forming suffixes are able to form derivatives belonging to at least two of the three categories labeled action nouns, quality nouns, and status nouns. The types -antia/-entia, -ía, -aticu, and -iciu can even be found in all three categories of abstract nouns. Thus, the distinction between action nouns, quality nouns, and status nouns continues to be highly useful for the semantic description of abstract nouns, but for the individual acts of abstract word formation in the Romance languages, this contrast seems to be less significant.

Figure 2. Action nouns.

Figure 3. Quality nouns.

Figure 4. Status nouns.

Figure 5. Synopsis.


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