Premodifiers in English: Their Structure and Significance

Overview

The order and behaviour of the premodifier (an adjective, or other modifying word that appears before a noun) has long been a puzzle to syntacticians and semanticists. Why can we say 'the actual red ball', but not 'the red actual ball'? And why, conversely, do some other premodifiers have free variation in sentences; for example we can say both 'German and English speakers' and 'English and German speakers'? Why do some premodifiers change the meaning of a phrase in some contexts; for example 'young man', can ...
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Premodifiers in English

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Overview

The order and behaviour of the premodifier (an adjective, or other modifying word that appears before a noun) has long been a puzzle to syntacticians and semanticists. Why can we say 'the actual red ball', but not 'the red actual ball'? And why, conversely, do some other premodifiers have free variation in sentences; for example we can say both 'German and English speakers' and 'English and German speakers'? Why do some premodifiers change the meaning of a phrase in some contexts; for example 'young man', can mean 'boyfriend', rather than 'man who is young'? Drawing on a corpus of over 4,000 examples of English premodifiers from a range of genres such as advertising, fiction and scientific texts, and across several varieties of English, this book synthesises research into premodifiers and provides a new explanation of their behaviour, order and use.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781107654846
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 4/17/2014
  • Series: Studies in English Language Series
  • Pages: 290
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Meet the Author

Jim Feist is an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Applied Language Studies and Linguistics at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.
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Table of Contents

1. Introduction; 2. Zones, and types of order; 3. Semantic explanation of unmarked order across the zones; 4. Syntactic explanation of unmarked order across the zones; 5. Unmarked order within the classifier zone; 6. Free order; 7. Marked order; 8. Historical explanation of premodifier order; 9. Supporting explanations of premodifier order; 10. Discussion; 11. Conclusion.
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