Nicole Nau

Latvian agent nouns: their meaning, grammar, and use

This article explores semantic and grammatical properties of Latvian agent nouns that are derived from verbs by the suffix -ēj- (for primary verbs) or -tāj- (for secondary verbs). These formations show several peculiarities that distinguish them from agent nouns in other European languages and from similar Latvian nouns formed by other means. They are specialized in meaning, highly regular and transparent. They show verbal features such as aspectuality and combinability with adverbs, and they may inherit verbal arguments. The productivity of the formation is almost unlimited, and many ad hoc formations are found in colloquial style, for example in social media. In discourse, agent nouns often have a referential function, either as the only function or in combination with a concept-building function. The focus of the article is on less institutionalized tokens which show the potential of this morphological process that challenges traditional views about the functions of derivation or its delimitation.

Keywords: agent noun, Latvian, noun valency