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Modelling ‘selection’ between referents in the English nominal group

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Abstract

This paper addresses two issues, one descriptive and one methodological. It offers a description of the English nominal group (aka noun phrase) that greatly extends the traditional concept of ‘determiner’. More specifically, it describes an integrated semantics and functional syntax for the quantifying and deictic determiners, based on the concept of ‘selection’. This approach has the advantage over standard representations that, when analyzing (1) <i>five books</i>, (2) <i>those books</i> and (3) <i>five of those books</i>, the words<i> five, those</i> and <i>books</i> expound the same element in each case. The paper then shows how this approach can be extended to eight other determiners and their associated uses of of (and, incidentally, the structure for its remaining uses). But there is equal emphasis on the methodology used to establish which of three possible types of structure should be used to model such examples, and the paper concludes by suggesting that the ultimate criteria are those of elegance in the operation of the grammar.

References

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