postnominal adjectives in English

Arnold D J doug at
Mon Jan 28 09:03:12 EST 2002

The classic reference on this is:

 D.L. Bolinger, Adjectives in English: Attribution and Predication, Lingua, 18, 7-34, 1967

(Essentially, he says postnominal adjectives have a `temporary' sense to
them, so post nominal position is infelicitous with a `defining' or `characterizing'
property or a permanent property (like `green').

Another reference is:

  Louisa Sadler and D.J. Arnold, Prenominal Adjectives and the
  Phrasal/Lexical Distinction, Journal of Linguistics, 30, 187-226, 1994

provides a long discussion of the differences between pre- and post-
nominal positions, and an extensive review of the literature up to
1994. If you just want a flavour of the paper, I can send you soft copy
of a pre-final draft. The analysis isn't couched in HPSG, though we
thought it could have been. We gave a partial HPSG account in a working
paper, which is still available:

      D.J. Arnold and Louisa Sadler, Noun-Modifying Adjectives in HPSG, April 1992


Doug Arnold
Doug Arnold,                       doug at
Dept. of Language & Linguistics,
University of Essex,
Wivenhoe Park,                     Tel: +44 1206 872084 (direct)
Colchester, CO4 3SQ, UK.           Fax: +44 1206 872198

>>>>> "davidson" == Wesley Davidson <davidson at> writes:

    davidson> Can anyone point me to any discussion or analysis (hpsg-based or
    davidson> otherwise) of contrasts like the following?  (...the contrast being that
    davidson> some modifying adjPs are okay postnominally, but not others).

    davidson> 1a)   We invited all the firemen available.
    davidson>  b) ??We invited all the firemen friendly.

    davidson> 2a)   They drove to the nearest store open.
    davidson>  b) ??They drove to the nearest store cheap.

    davidson> 3a)   The only towel clean was sitting on a shelf 6 feet above the sink.
    davidson>  b) ??The only towel green was sitting on a shelf 6 feet above the sink.

    davidson> Thanks.

    davidson> -Wesley Davidson

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