3 Nominal Modifiers: Definition and Characteristics - 45
45 3 Nominal Modifiers: Definition and Characteristics As previously noted, noun phrases are built up of a noun acting as head, around which some dependents cluster, amongst these modi- fiers. The prototypical category fulfilling the position of premodifier is that of adjective. However, nouns as modifiers are also frequently found. In what follows, a comprehensive overview of the features which define nouns as modifiers is presented. Section 3.1 deals with the definition of nominal modifiers, sur- veys the features that characterise them, and discusses a number of suggested explanations as to why they are used in English. Section 3.2 reviews the existing literature on nominal modification. Section 3.3 poses the following question: why are nominal premodifiers still understandable if they are simply juxtaposed items? Ambiguity in N+N structures will be studied from three different perspectives: syntac- tic, semantic and categorial. In Section 3.4, I will focus on the problem of establishing clear-cut boundaries between syntax and morphology while dealing with nouns as modifiers in the noun phrase; processes concerning nominal modifiers, such as institutionalisation and lexicalisation, will be examined in depth here. Section 3.5 compares nouns as premodifiers with other sorts of modification, such as prepo- sitional phrases, relative clauses, genitive phrases and adjectives. 3.1 Nominal modifiers As we know, the construction of a noun phrase is recursive, that is, we may add new items to its head which help to specify and charac- terise the extralinguistic referent that the NP is alluding to. The head noun allows the insertion...
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