Problems in NP structure

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This paper considers a textual example of the nominal group found in a British tabloid daily newspaper (<i>The Sun</i>), with a view to examining how far two standard treatments of nominal group/noun phrase structure, directed at a student readership, account for the pattern of pre-modification found in it. The two works referred to are, Greenbaum, S. and R. Quirk (1992) <i>A Student’s Grammar of the English Language</i>, and, Halliday, M.A.K. and C.M.I.M. Matthiessen (2004) <i>An Introduction to Functional Grammar</i> (3rd edn). Halliday’s functional category of ‘classifier’ and Greenbaum and Quirk’s category of ‘noun pre-modifier’ largely overlap, and rules for the relative sequence of different elements in NP/nominal group structure in these two accounts have a good deal in common. Problems with the analysis of the chosen example exist for both. The main distinction between these accounts with respect to pre-modification lies in Halliday’s proposal of a division between a logical and an experiential basis for nominal group analysis. Using the example given, the suggestion is made that these two dimensions are not mutually independent, and that a case can be made that it is set inclusion attributes of the experiential structure that determine the features dealt with under the heading ‘logical structure’ in Halliday’s account.


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