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Title: 'The Matter' - NP Substitution for AP
Submitter: Hank Mooney
Description: 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
English?

Any instances of similar things in other languages?

How do speakers process this usage?

Hank Mooney
granjon@sonic.net
Date Posted: 06-Jul-2008
Linguistic Field(s): Syntax
LL Issue: 19.2156
Posted: 06-Jul-2008

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