query: prenominal and postnominal adjectives in Romance

bingfu bingfu at USC.EDU
Tue Apr 21 14:59:43 UTC 1998

Dear netters!

I am still organizing the final summary of correspondences to my previous
query about left-right asymmetries in word order variations.  I should say
sorry for delay to those who have corresponded to me.

As part of the survay, I need to know more data about the differences
between prenominal and postnominal modifiers in Romance languages.

The following is my issue and inquiries.

	In some languages, adjectives can occur both on the left side and
the right side of the head N.  The contrast between pre-N and post-N
positions resembles the same pattern of that between pre- and
post-demonstrative adjectives.  For instance, according to Greenber 1978,
in Bedauye, a northern Cushitic language, the order is AN when the phrase
is definite, but NA when it is indefinite.  Since I do not have direct
access to Bedauye, I would like to know more about Romance languages,
which normally allow both AN and NA orders.

	The following statistic by Klein-Andrew about Spanish also
indicate that AN order is more correlated with definiteness than NA is.

	a. For NPs occurring as subjects, as compared to
nonsubject NPs. (77% vs. 54%,
meaning 77% of the subjects with pre-N modifiers while only 54%
nonsubjects with pre-N modifiers)

	b. For NPs accompanied by the definite articles el, la, los, las,
as compared wit NPs accompanied by indefinite articles
uno(s)/una(s) 'one/a (some)'.
		(58% vs. 23%)

	c. For proper nouns (names) as compared with common nouns.	
			(93% vs. 56%)

I tentatively classify the functional contrasts between prenominal and
postnominal adjectives as the following four major types.

1. Purely referential vs. attributive
French example
(1) 	a. 	un ancien roi
		a    ancient kin
		'a former king'

 	b.   	un roi    ancien
      		a   king  ancient
	'an old/ancient king'

	(2) 	a.	une autre     éducation
			a    differen education
			'another education'		
		b. 	une éducation autre
	      		a     education different
	       		'a different education'

	(3) 	a. 	une certaine nouvelle
			a     certain   news
			'a certain piece of news'
	        	b. 	une nouvelle certaine
			a    news      certain
			'an unquestionable piece of news'

	(4) 	a.	la   première cause
			the first        cause
			'the first, initial cause'

	       	b.	la   cause première
			the ause first
			'the foremost, primary cause'

2. Specific vs. general
	(5) 	a.	un jeune ministre
			a   young minister
			'a minister younger than most ministers'

	       	b.	un ministre jeune
			a   minister young
			'a miister young in age'

	(6)	a.	heureux poète
			happy    poet
			'happy post'

		b.	poète heureux
			poet  happy
			'successful poet'

	(7)	a.	vie ami
			old friend
			'a long-standing friend'

		b.	ami vie
			friend old
			'old-aged friend'

This type of contrast is similar to that between Russian long-form and
short form predicate adjectives:

 	(8) 	a.	Studentka umnaja (Long form)
			student     intelligent
			'a student who is intelligent in her role as
		b.	Studentka umna (Short form)
			student     intelligent
			'a student who is intelligent as a human in

3. subjective evaluative vs. objective property

	(9) 	a.	un pauvre pays      riche
			a   poor     country rich
			'a poor rich country'
			(poor in alue, but rich in wealth)
	      	b. 	un riche pays      pauvre
			a   rich   country poor
			'a rich poor country'
			(rich in value though poor in wealth)

 4.  Redundant pre-N adjectives

	(10) 	la negra noche
		the black night

	(11)	dulce miel
		sweet honey

Now, my questions are:

1. I need more data of type 4. Could you please provide some?

2. Do you know any other major types of the contrast?

I will incorporate the replies to my future summary of left-right
asymmetries of world order variations.

	Bingfu Lu

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