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LINGUIST List 19.2156

Sun Jul 06 2008

Disc: New: 'The Matter' - NP Substitution for AP

Editor for this issue: Catherine Adams <catherinlinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Hank Mooney, New: 'The Matter' - NP Substitution for AP

Message 1: New: 'The Matter' - NP Substitution for AP
Date: 04-Jul-2008
From: Hank Mooney <granjonsonic.net>
Subject: New: 'The Matter' - NP Substitution for AP
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The phrase 'the matter' is used in English as a synonym (??) for the word 
'wrong', as in

'Something was the matter with him.'

'What's the matter?'

'Is something the matter?'

The use of a noun phrase in a syntactic slot that calls for an adjective is
unusual, and I'm wondering if anyone has addressed this usage and its
implications for syntactic theory in an article or book.

Some questions that come to my mind are:

Are there other instances of noun phrases substituting for adjectives in

Any instances of similar things in other languages?

How do speakers process this usage?

Hank Mooney

Linguistic Field(s): Syntax

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