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Determination of N2 modifiers in Spanish nominal syntagmatic compounds

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Abstract

To many informants the semantic difference between the following two types of nominal syntagmatic compounds (NSCs) in Spanish seems almost undetectable or maybe even non-existent.a. <i>Crisis de la energía </i>(energy crisis), <i>crisis del petróleo </i>(oil crisis), <i>puesta del sol</i><br />(sun set)<br />[internal structure: N1prep. def.N2]<br />b. <i>Fuente de energía </i>(energy source), <i>pozo de petróleo </i>(oil well) <i>día de sol </i>(day<br />of sun)<br />[internal structure: N1 prep. ØN2]<br />However, I will claim that the two structure types are far from being synonymous. A fundamental assumption in the article is that conceptualisation of basic entity types as either heterogeneous, delimited and internally structured (bounded) or homogeneous, amorphous and without delimitation or internal structure (unbounded) interacts with the grammatical determiner system in attributing interpretational values to NSCs. The point of departure is that the definite article attributes to N2 either a referential reading or a prototype reading, while the zero determiner brings about an interpretation as either a mass or a concept. In the last part of the article it is argued that the semantic effects of the N2 configuration are essentially different from genericity. Nominals in existential or generic expressions denote, or are sometimes even said to <i>refer to</i>, a class or type of objects, whereas N2 gives access to characteristic properties of the entity type.

References

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