Edited by Alex Ho-Cheong Leung and Wim van der Wurff
[Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today 246] 2018
► pp. 11–46
Chapter 2. Complex NPs with third-order entity clauses
Towards a grammatical description and semantic typology
This article focuses on complex NP constructions of the form ‘determiner (+ adjective) + noun (+ complementiser) + clause’, which refer to third-order entities, defined by Lyons (1977: 443) as “such abstract entities as propositions, which are outside time and space”. Their functional structure has so far tended to be analysed in terms of one syntagmatic model, either as an appositive structure defined by the criterion that NP and clause have identical reference (e.g. Quirk et al. 1985) or as a complementation structure in which the noun is viewed as licensing the complement clause (e.g. Huddleston & Pullum 2002). I argue that, as unified descriptions, neither of these analyses can be maintained. I propose instead that these NPs divide into two distinct subtypes on the basis of different grammatical behaviour: one in which the third order entity clause is premodified by the noun and one in which it complements the head noun. Starting from this basic functional-structural division, I propose a typology that distinguishes the main semantic classes of nouns patterning with third-order entity clauses. The typology aims to capture the most important semantic distinctions between the subtypes of these complex NPs.
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