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The Syntax and Semantics of the Nominal Construction

A Radically Minimalist Perspective


Diego Gabriel Krivochen

This book proposes a novel analysis of Nominal Construction from the syntax-semantics interface. It is based on the newly developed framework of Radical Minimalism, and provides both a concise introduction to this formal model and the application of the theory to real examples provided by native speakers. The theory, which makes use of mathematics, cognitive science, and physics combined with formal syntax, is explained in detail before entering the domain of the nominal construction where straightforward, clear analyses are provided for multiple interlinguistic phenomena. Even though mainly theoretical, the book has a strong empirical basis and enables the reader to continue the quest by applying the framework to phenomena of his interest.


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Chapter 2: The Syntax-Semantics of the Nominal Construction


0 Introduction This chapter deals with the theory of Nominal Constructions (NC) under a Radically Minimalist light. Following the lines of Chapter 1, we narrow our scope down and study the inner structure of NCs and how it interacts with other constituents within the limits of the sentence to produce interface effects. In order to make our exposition as clear as possible, we will first present previous generative approaches, from which our proposal stems, pointing out the theoretical / empirical difficulties we find in each. Then, the Radically Minimalist proposal will be developed in length. 1 NP, DP or n*P? The intuitive idea behind the theories about the syntax of the nominal construction is that there is a nominal head (although, as we will see, that does not necessarily mean a “noun” in the traditional sense) that some- how (e.g., via feature percolation to a label) determines the syntac- tic/semantic behavior of the whole construction: distribution, meaning, and selectional properties. Within Generative Grammar, the existence of a Noun Phrase was first assumed, but only after some years was it justi- fied. The Standard Theory (Chomsky, 1957, 1965) presented the following Phrase Structure Rules (PSR): (1) S -> NP PredP (2) NP -> (Det) + N + (PP / AP) At this point in Generative history, headedness was assumed rather than justified, and there was no formalized system of projection, so the notions of “specifier” and “complement” were not still formally defined. Finite state grammars were already behind, but structural...

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