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3.1 Modification of NP by Determiners and APs

Nouns can be premodified by determiners and predeterminers. On these, see: Quantifiers and (pre)determiners. Nouns can further be premodified by APs. Simple Adjective Phrases (APs) are APs which are not accompanied by arguments whereas complex APs are accompanied by arguments. Simple APs are placed before the noun and must exhibit agreement. Complex APs may also be placed after the noun, and, if they do, they may not exhibit agreement with the noun which they modify.


The AP is normally placed before the noun which it modifies. This yields an attributive construction (see: Attribution of APs). In the attributive construction, the noun displays agreement with the adjective:

Blau-e Kringel-e.
blue-PL squiggle-PL
Blue squiggles.

In spoken language, simple APs are rarely found following the noun. Complex APs, on the other hand, sound somewhat artificial or bookish in prenominal position. But if an AP is found to follow the noun, it will not bear any agreement, as illustrated below:

? Do fon Ruuchriep wiet-e Takken.
the of hoarfrost white-PL branches
The branches, white from hoarfrost.
Do Takken, wiet fon Ruugriep.
the branches white from hoarfrost
The branches, white from hoarfrost.

Placement of AP following the noun yields an appositive construction. In the attributive construction, the adjective restricts the denotation of the Noun Phrase (NP). In formal semantic terms: the denotation of the NP is not equal to the intersection of the denotation of the NP and the AP. Hence attributive adjectives are perfectly compatible with negative and universal quantifiers, for the adjective restricts the denotation of the NP to which the quantifier is applied:

Älke näie Dai. Älke goude Boom.
every new day every good tree
Every new day. Every good tree.
Hie häd naan gouden Nome.
he has no good name
He doesn’t have a good name.

The phrase naan gouden Nome ‘no good name’ refers in all possible worlds to a subset of the set of names to which the phrase naan Nome ‘no name’ refers. The two phrases may accidentally have the same reference in a situation in which all names are no good, but that is a matter for pragmatics. In the appositive construction, the adjective cannot restrict the denotation of the NP. In formal semantic terms: the denotation of the NP must be equal to the intersection of the denotation of the NP and the AP. Therefore appositives are said to be non-restrictive. Bare appositive adjectives are therefore grammatical to the extent that they can corefer with NPs. With certain type of quantifiers, such coreference is not possible:

*Naan Nome, goud.
no name good
No good name.
*Älke Dai, näi.
every day new
Every new day.

Appositive adjectives are grammatical in case they are accompanied by a quantifying conjunction yielding a denotation for the AP as a whole that allows of coreference with a negated NP, and coreference is by definition non-restrictive. In the example below, the appositive phrase does not restrict the denotation of the negated NP, and hence it is acceptable:

Älke Dai, näi of nit.
every day new or not
Every day, new or not.

Such examples involve a quantification over all the values of the AP, and this apparently makes possible the type of coreference characteristic of an appositive interpretation.

However, APs accompanied by a Adposition Phrase (PP), especially present and past participles and pseudo-participles, can occur following the noun, while retaining a restrictive interpretation. Nevertheless, they still do not exhibit any agreement. Relevant examples are hard to come by due to the restricted nature of our corpus.

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