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

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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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3 Nominal Modifiers: Definition and Characteristics - 45

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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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