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The Status and Development of N+N Sequences in Contemporary English Noun Phrases


Iria Pastor Gomez

This volume aims to carry out a comprehensive analysis of those nouns within the structure of the noun phrase which are referred to as N+N sequences (e.g. drug addiction, computer cluster). They are studied from three perspectives, namely their status as syntactic constructs, their evolution as becoming morphological items through a process of lexicalisation – whereby they gradually acquire properties of a semantic, morphological, orthographic and phonological nature –, and their use in which several variables such as speech community, mode and textual category are in operation. Additionally, this volume touches upon the problems in establishing clear-cut boundaries between morphology and syntax in order to define their status and evolution. A comprehensive corpus analysis rounds off the study.


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2 Noun Phrase Structure - 17


17 2 Noun Phrase Structure In this chapter a brief account of the structure of the noun phrase (NP) is offered. The main goal of the current volume is the analysis of nouns which are embedded as modifiers in those larger units called noun phrases. In order to understand how a noun may act as a modi- fier in a noun phrase, attention must be paid to the processes which make this possible. Nouns prototypically function as heads of noun phrases, but the object of study here is their role as modifiers. In order to appreciate the differences between these two functions that nouns can perform, an initial analysis of noun phrases is therefore useful. Each section below is devoted to one specific aspect of the noun phrase. Due to limitations of space and time, I will focus on the definition, function and patterns of noun phrases as well as the modi- fiers inside them, and will pay special attention to premodification. Accordingly, Section 2.1 deals with the definition and structural pat- terns of noun phrases. The phenomenon of premodification, where nouns also play an important role, is then discussed in Section 2.2; issues such as the order of premodifiers, their component parts and their possible combinations are also examined. Section 2.3 is then devoted to the role of premodification as opposed to postmodification; there is a reference to previous works (such as Raumolin-Brunberg 1991 or Biber/Clark 2002) that have made a quantitative analysis of the use of premodifiers. Those...

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