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Bare PPs and the syntax-semantics interface

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Abstract

Spanish prepositional phrases headed by sin “without” with a bare noun complement (una habitación sin luz “a room without light”; un hombre sin corbata “a man without tie”) show interesting gradability properties: Degree modification is allowed if the N complement is a mass noun (una habitación muy sin luz “lit. a room very without light”; *un hombre muy sin corbata “lit. a man very without tie”). We claim that sin-PPs (sin-Preposition Phrases) hare syntactic and semantic properties with constructions involving light verbs that select for bare nouns. We argue that (a) a property-denoting bare NP pseudo-incorporates into a null verb have that is part of the syntactic-semantic structure of sin, and that (b) sin-PPs can be coerced into gradable properties as long as the bare noun is cumulative and homogeneous (divisive). Our proposal explains the differences between sin-(bare)-PPs and PPs headed by sin with a QP/DP complement, since in the latter there is neither coercion nor pseudo-incorporation.

References

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