"exceptional adjectival phrases"

Edith A Moravcsik edith at CSD.UWM.EDU
Tue Sep 5 15:21:08 UTC 2000

This is an update on the discussion regarding adjectival phrases such as
"this good", "so good" etc., which turned out to be exceptional both in
their selectional constraints and their ordering relative to the noun they
pertain to. Following my last summary of August 14, there were
three responses. The one from Bingfu Lu came directly to FUNKNET.
A response by Jason Merchant came to my own address and, with
Jason's permission, I subsequently posted it on FUNKNET. The third
response was from Ad Foolen of Nijmegen and he asked me to summarize it
for FUNKNET rather than posting it.

Ad made two points. One had to do with the Brabant data that Jason
Merchant had provided. Ad Foolen is a native speaker of this dialect of
Dutch and he confirms Jason's point that "hoe" 'how' can stand before the
indefinite article, with the latter cliticized to the former. This, he
says, is similar to the standard Dutch expression "zo'n" 'such a'. He
points out that the possibilities of this construction in Brabant are a
little broader than in standard Dutch and German but less broad than
English, which is, he suggests, a nice case of micro-variation.

The second point has to do with the function of this construction. Ad
does not think that it has to do with referentiality. Instead, he
tentatively proposes that the markedness of the construction makes
it appropriate for expressivity and questioning. However, he says
more research needs to be done on this point.

Edith M.

                         Edith A. Moravcsik
                         Department of Foreign Languages and Linguistics
                         University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
                         Milwaukee, WI 53201-0413

                         E-mail: edith at uwm.edu
                         Telephone: (414) 229-6794 /office/
                                    (414) 332-0141 /home/
                         Fax: (414) 229-2741

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