LINGUIST List 14.1546

Fri May 30 2003

Sum: Prenominal Adjectives with Complements

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Dimitris Ntelitheos, Prenominal Adjectives with Complements

Message 1: Prenominal Adjectives with Complements

Date: Fri, 30 May 2003 15:45:39 +0000
From: Dimitris Ntelitheos <>
Subject: Prenominal Adjectives with Complements

Dear List Members,

In my original query (Linguist 14.1440) ten days ago, I asked
whether people knew of papers/grammars and/or data from languages that
allow for prenominal adjectives to take prepositional or clausal
complements. I received some answers and would like to thank the
people that took the time to respond to my query.

Apart from Greek and Bulgarian which I mentioned in my original
e-mail, Wayles Browne, Kevin Caldwell, and Peter Zubkov indicated that
Russian follows the same pattern in allowing for prenominal adjectives
to take complements to the right of the adjectival head. Wayles Browne
<> informed me that Serbo-Croatian (Serbian, Bosnian,
Croatian) is like German in that adjectives and participles with
complements usually follow nouns but Russian is like Greek. Kevin
Caldwell <> sent me the following two examples
of participles with complements from ''Continuing with Russian'', by
Charles E. Townsend (1981, Slavica Publishers, Inc., Columbus, OH)

1) Ya plokho ponimayu reshennuyu etim professorom zadachu. Literally:
I poorly understand the solved by that professor problem. I poorly
understand the problem which that professor solved.

2) Boston yavlyaetsya odnim iz samykh starykh sushchestvovavshikh vo
vremya amerikanskoy revolyutsii gorodov. Lit.: Boston is one of the
oldest existed at the time of the American Revolution cities. Boston
is one of the oldest cities that existed at the time of American

Finally, Peter Zubkov <> transliterated my Greek
example into Russian

gordyj svoim synom otec
proud himself's son father
'[The] father proud of his son'.

and suggested looking for such facts in other Slavic languages as

I would especially like to thank J L G Escribano <>
for sending me a detailed bibliography on the problem from his article
'Head Final Effects and the Nature of Modification', to appear in
Journal of Linguistics. I reproduce the bibliography at the end of
this message.

Finally, I would like to thank Tom Roeper and Mark Donohue for
mentioning two interesting, related facts. Tom Roeper
<> informed me that both English and German
allow recursive adjectives before the noun although he is not sure
that they can be recursive with a complement. Mark Donohue
<> mentioned that some speakers of Blue Mountains
Australian English seem to be able to topicalize the adjectival
complement within the DP allowing for expressions of the form:
"For you good".

Thanks again to everyone that replied.

Dimitris Ntelitheos

Abney, S. P. (1987). The English noun phrase in its sentential
aspects. Ph.D. Thesis. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT.

Abney, S. P. (1991a). Parsing by chunks. In Berwick, R. W.,
S. P. Abney & C. Tenny, C. (eds.) Principle-based parsing. Dordrecht:
Kluwer Academic Publishers. 257-278.

Abney, S. P. (1991b). Syntactic affixation and performance
structures. In K. Leffel, & D. Bouchard, eds., Views on phrase
structure. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. 215-227.

Bernstein, J. B. (1995). Adjectives and their complements. Unpublished
LSA paper.

Cinque, G. (1993). A null theory of phrase and compound
stress. Linguistic Inquiry 24. 239-297.

Di Sciullo, A. M. & E. Williams (1987). On the definition of
word. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Dowty, D. (1996). Towards a minimalist theory of syntactic
structure. In H. Bunt & A. van Horck (eds.) Discontinuous
constituency. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.11-62.

Emonds, J. (1976). A transformational approach to English syntax. New
York: Academic Press.

Emonds, J. (1985). A unified theory of syntactic
categories. Dordrecht: Foris.

Escribano, J L G (2002). Head Final Effects and the Nature of
Modification. To appear in Journal of Linguistics.

Fabb, N. A. (1984). Syntactic affixation. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT

Hawkins, J. A. (1994). A performance theory of order and
constituency. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hawkins, J. A. (2001). Why are categories adjacent?. Journal of
Linguistics 37. 1-34.

Hendrick, R. (1978). The phrase structure of adjectives and
comparatives. Linguistic Analysis 4. 255-299.

Levin, B. & M. Rappaport. (1986). The formation of adjectival
passives. Linguistic Inquiry 17. 623-661.

Liberman, M. & R. Sproat. (1992). The stress and structure of modified
noun phrases in English. In I. A. Sag & A. Szabolcsi, eds., Lexical
matters. Chicago: CSLI-University of Chicago Press. 131-182.

Longobardi, G. (1991) Extraction from NP and the proper notion of head
government. In A. Giorgi & G. Longobardi, The syntax of noun
phrases. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 57-112.

Quirk, R. et al. (1985). A comprehensive grammar of the English
language. London: Longman.

Sadler, L. & D. J. Arnold (1994). Pre-nominal adjectives and the
phrasal/lexical distinction. Journal of Linguistics 30. 187-226.

Smith, C. (1961). A class of complex modifiers in English. Language
37. 342-365.

Smith, C. (1964). Determiners and relative clauses in a generative
grammar of English. Language 40. 37-52.

Sproat, R. (1985). On deriving the lexicon. Ph. D. Thesis. Cambridge,
Mass.: MIT.

Sproat, R. & Ch. Shih (1987). Pre-nominal adjectival ordering in
English and Mandarin. NELS 18. 465-489.

Stowell, T. (1981). Origins of phrase
structure. Ph. D. Thesis. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT.

Uriagereka, J. (1998) Rhyme and reason. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Williams, E. (1982). Another argument that passive is
transformational. Linguistic Inquiry 13. 160-3.
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