positioning of 'property concepts' in the NP

Wolfgang Schulze W.Schulze at LRZ.UNI-MUENCHEN.DE
Tue Mar 30 07:41:44 UTC 2010

Dear Fritz,
I'm not sure whether this is exactly what you're looking for. But if you 
add the category of deictic terms that the macro-class of noun 
modifiers, you might consider German postdetermination:

(1)    das kleine Kind
         DEF small child

(2)    dieses kleine Kind
         DEF:EMPH small child

(3)    das/dieses kleine Kind hier / da
         DEF /DEF:EMPH small child PROX / DIST

In Standard German, the demonstratives are no longer expressed by the 
pair 'dieser/jener' (PROX/DIST) as predetermining elements, but by the 
postdetermining adverb-like pronouns 'hier'/da' (here/there). The form 
'dieser' has become the emphatic variant of the article (in fact, this 
nicely mirrors the etymology of 'dieser' < *ther-si DEF+EMPH)). 'Hier' 
(also 'da'?) can be added to indefinite nouns, event though this is not 
too much conventionalized:

(4)    ein Auto hier
         INDEF car here

But you cannot use 'hier/da' with the NP itself (in terms of 

The relevance of these examples naturally depend from what you mean by 
"category assignment". 'hier/da' are part of the semantic category of 
deixis > demonstratives that also shows up in the Written/Literary 
German pair 'dies-/jen-'. In this sense, 'hier/da' do not qualify for 
what you describe. But in case you relate them to a syntactic category 
(adverb), we may claim that there is a marked difference between 
predetermining adjectives/articles/numerals etc. and postdetermining 
deixis. But all this cannot be decided without referring to the whole 
problem of postdetermination in German (and other languages) [I remember 
that we once had a discussion of such issues on the list]. In this 
respect it can be asked whether postdetermination really is (at least 
syntactically, in my eyes also semantically) the same as 
predetermination. In many instances, we can analyse postdetermination in 
terms of either appositions or relative clause-like structures marked 
for elipsis. Thus postdetermination would be based on something like 
NP+NP or NP+VP, whereas predetermination would represent a structure 
[ATTR-N]NP. In this sense, there is a syntactic (and categorial?) 
difference between 'chair of wood' and 'wood(en) chair'. I think that we 
cannot parallel the two 'wood'-terms here - rather we have to contrast 
'of wood' with 'wood(en)'. In 'wood(en) chair', 'wood' does not function 
as a noun with explicit referential function (* 'the [dark wood] chair', 
rather 'the dark [wood(en) chair]'), but as an adjective-like, 
properties encoding, NP-internal attribute. With 'city planner', things 
are slightly different, because here, the nominal head itself is 
verb-based: -er functions as a semi-productive derivational element that 
produces conceptual (!) headless relative structures ('[one] who plan a 
city/cities'). The referentialization of such clauses (via -er) invokes 
some kind of incorporation (de-referentializing 'city') and conditions 
the compositional type that emerges from this pattern.

Best wishes,

Am 29.03.2010 21:56, schrieb Frederick J Newmeyer:
> Dear all,
> I wonder if I might deflect the discussion from academic publishing 
> for a moment. I am looking for an example of a language manifesting 
> something very specific -- a language which might or might not exist:
> 1. In this language 'property concepts' (to use a neutral term) are 
> encoded in part by a distinct category 'Adjective' and also by what 
> are uncontroversially Nouns or Verbs in terms of their catgeory 
> assignments.
> 2. In this language, within the Noun Phrase, Adjective modifiers of 
> the Noun appear on one side of the Noun that they modify, whereas Noun 
> or Verb modifiers appear on the opposite side of the Noun that they 
> modify.
> Does anybody know an example of such a language?
> Thanks!
> --fritz
> Frederick J. Newmeyer
> Professor Emeritus, University of Washington
> Adjunct Professor, University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser 
> University
> [for my postal address, please contact me by e-mail]



*Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulze *


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