Adjectives, Number and Interfaces: Why Languages Vary

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September 2002



A study of why languages vary the way they do in the domain of adjectival modification in French as contrasted with other Indo-European languages (English, Celtic, Walloon, Romanian, Italian). Rejecting previous well-known analyses in terms of syntactic movement to various functional heads, the author proposes a model in which external properties of interfaces are the foundations from which the variation is derived. Limiting severely the technical apparatus of syntax, the author argues that the properties of number at the interfaces are shown to provide a simple and precise solution for longstanding problems of compositionality raised by adjectival modification. There is also a unified analysis of the many other properties involved. The model provides a principled explanation of the variation concerning nominals without determiners (bare NPs) and determiners without nominals (clitics).


Adjectives, Interfaces, and Explanation. Introduction. Adjectival Modification. Apparent noncompositionality of adjectival modification. Explaining Adjectival Modification. Numerous other properties of adjectival modification. Attempts at technical solutions. Additions to the semantics. Additions to the syntactic units. Additions to the constructions. Inadequacy of technical solutions. Multiple meanings of ADJ-N combinations. Multiple classes of adjectives. Cross-linguistic variation. Understanding the lack of explanation. Explanation in Linguistics: the Role of Interfaces. Variation at the SM interface: a second facet to Saussurean arbitrariness. Variation at the CI interface: another facet of Saussurean arbitrariness. The CI and SM properties of number. Notes. Adjectival Modification in French. A Strictly Compositional Analysis of Adjectival Modification. Basic Phenomena. Clear meaning differences between ADJ-N and N-ADJ combinations. Intensional adjectives. Quantitative adjectives. Evaluative adjectives. ADJs that express concrete properties. ADJs and proper names. The anaphoric use of a prenominal ADJ. The scope of double prenominal ADJ. The scope of double postnominal ADJs. Scopal ambiguity in ADJ-N-ADJ. Sandhi phenomena. The no complement restriction. Factors Favoring pre-N or post-N Placement of ADJs. Semantic factors. Phonological factors. Syntactic factors. Morphological factors. Nongrammatical factors. Conclusion. Notes. Crosslinguistic Variation in Adjectival Modification. The Causes of Variation. A Comparison with English. Why English has mostly prenominal ADJs. The mirror order of French postnominal ADJs and English prenominal ADJs. The old friend problem. Intonation and functional covariation. A Brief Look at Other Languages. Celtic languages. Walloon. Rumanian. Evidence from Codeswitching. Conclusion. Notes. The Omission of N. Expressions Including Partitivity. Classifying ADJs. Lone Determiners. Syntactic Accounts. Chomsky's analysis. Cardinaletti & Starke's Analysis. Why syntactic accounts fail. An affixal account. Determiners, tense, and number. ActAffs as regular affixes. Accounting for the data. Conclusion. Notes. The Omission of DET. Number and the DET. Intensional Determinerless NPS in French. Predicative N. Attributive N. Verbal Expressions. N de N. N a N. Negation and privative elements. Referential Determinerless NPS in French. Contact of the word with the referent. Deictic NPs. Proper names. A single Det and coordinated Ns. Determinerless coordinated Ns. de + prenominal adjective. The Interpretation of Determinerless NPs in English. Determinerless NPs in Italian. Conclusion. Appendix. Notes. Adaptive Grammar. The Broad Picture. Progress in Generative Grammar and Simplicity. Progress in Generative Grammar. Formal Simplicity. Functional simplicity. General simplicity. Nonminimal Residues. Displacement. Locality. A Parsimonious Analysis of Long Distance Dependencies. Long distance dependency is not displacement. Locality. Summary. The Origins of Variation. Variation by Saussurean arbitrariness is motivated. Variation by displacement internal to a language. Facilitating processing. Different types of semantics. Agreement with uninterpretable features. Expletive constructions. Wh in-situ. Displacement: artefact rather than fact. Displacement and Crosslinguistic Variation. Crosslinguistic variation in the basic order. A universal basic order. Crosslinguistic variation by displacement. Free order and functional covariation. Innateness and Learnability. An Adaptive Model of the Faculty of Language. Appendix: Counterarguments to Compositionality? Compositionality and multiple interpretations: meaning versus interpretation. Compositionality and the contextual meaning of if and unless. Notes. References.


"This book represents a remarkable study devoted to the distribution and interpretation of adjectives within a syntactic structure and semantic network of the Noun Phrase (NP)." Zentralblatt fur Mathematik, Vol 1030, 2004. "[This book] is definitely to be recommended, and is an extremely useful and orginal work, which should be of interest to both new and experienced researchers." --Andrew Simpson, Journal of Linguistics, Vol 40, 2004.
EAN: 9780080440552
ISBN: 008044055X
Untertitel: 'North-Holland Linguistic Serie'. New. Sprache: Englisch.
Erscheinungsdatum: September 2002
Seitenanzahl: 470 Seiten
Format: gebunden
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