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Academic Paper

Title: Descriptive Genitives in English: a case study on constructional gradience
Author: Anette Rosenbach
Institution: Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf
Linguistic Field: Syntax
Subject Language: English
Abstract: This article offers an in-depth treatment of a 'nonprototypical s-genitive, i.e. the descriptive genitive (e.g. women's magazine), which has so far received little attention in the grammars of English. Various types of descriptive genitives are distinguished, i.e. classifying, metaphorical, and generic genitives. In addition, the article raises a number of theoretical issues of a more general nature, such as the delimitation of syntactic phrases from compounds. Most importantly, it is argued that descriptive genitives provide evidence for constructional gradience in the English noun phrase in two ways: (1) gradience between determiner genitives and descriptive genitives, and (2) gradience between s-genitives and noun + noun sequences. A central claim is made that semantic overlaps may give rise to constructional gradience. In this respect the present article complements earlier accounts of gradience that have emphasized the importance of structural criteria only. The article concludes with a brief consideration of measure genitives, which are in many ways similar to descriptive genitives.


This article appears IN English Language and Linguistics Vol. 10, Issue 1.

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