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2.3.2. Movement of the nominal complement

Section 2.2, sub I, has discussed adjectives that take a nominal complement and noticed that the adjective and its nominal complement cannot readily undergo topicalization as a whole. The examples in (88) and (89) illustrate this again for, respectively, genitive and dative complements.

Example 88
a. ?? [AP Het Frans machtig] is hij niet.
  the French  in.command.of  is he  not
  'He isnʼt able to speak French.'
b. ?? [AP Deze opera zat] zal hij niet worden.
  this opera weary  will  he  not become
  'He wonʼt get tired of this opera.'
Example 89
a. *? [AP Die jongen vertrouwd] is de omgeving niet.
  this boy  familiar  is the area  not
  'This area isnʼt familiar to this boy.'
b. *? [AP De mens aangeboren] is de Universele Grammatica zeker.
  the man  innate  is the Universal Grammar  certainly
  'Universal Grammar is certainly innate to man.'

The degraded status of these examples is not due to a general prohibition on topicalization, given that the primeless examples in (90) and (91), in which the noun phrase is stranded, are completely acceptable, just like the primed examples that involve topicalization of the noun phrase. Observe that the noun phrases precede the clausal modifiers niet'not' and zeker'certainly', which shows that they have been moved leftward into some AP-external position.

Example 90
a. [APti Machtig]j is hij het Fransi niet/zeker tj.
a'. Het Fransi is hij niet/zeker [APti machtig].
b. [APti Zat]j zal hij deze operai niet/zeker tj worden.
b'. Deze operai zal hij niet/zeker [APti zat] worden.
Example 91
a. [APti Vertrouwd]j is de omgeving die jongeni niet/zeker tj.
a'. Die jongeni is de omgeving niet/zeker [APti vertrouwd].
b. [APti Aangeboren]j is de Universele Grammatica de mensi niet/zeker tj.
b'. De mensi is de Universele Grammatica niet/zeker [APti aangeboren].

The examples in (92) and (93) show that in constructions without topicalization, the noun phrase also preferably precedes the clausal modifier, that is, that leftward movement is also strongly preferred in this case. Observe that in (92) the effect is less strong with the clausal adverb zeker'certainly', especially if it is assigned emphatic accent.

Example 92
a. Hij is *?niet/?zeker [AP het Frans machtig].
a'. Hij is het Fransi niet/zeker [APti machtig].
b. Hij zal *?niet/?zeker [AP deze opera zat] worden.
b'. Hij zal deze operai niet/zeker [APti zat] worden.
Example 93
a. * De omgeving is niet/zeker [AP die jongen vertrouwd].
a'. De omgeving is die jongeni niet/zeker [APti vertrouwd].
b. * De Universele Grammatica is niet/zeker [AP de mens aangeboren].
b'. De Universele Grammatica is de mensi niet/zeker [APti aangeboren].

      The data above suggest that the noun phrase cannot remain in its base position immediately to the left of the adjective. This conclusion can also be supported by taking into account the position of the nominal complement with respect to the adverbial modifier of the adjective. Since modifiers are more peripheral in the projection of the head than complements, we would expect that the nominal complement can be placed between the adverbial modifier and the adjective; cf. the discussion of (82). As can be seen in (94), however, this leads to ungrammaticality; the nominal complement must precede the modifier vreselijk/erg'extremely/very'.

Example 94
a. * Hij zal vreselijk deze opera zat worden.
  he  will  extremely  this opera  weary  become
  'Heʼll become very tired of this opera.'
a'. Hij zal deze opera vreselijk zat worden.
b. * De omgeving is erg deze jongen vertrouwd.
  this area  is very  this boy  familiar
  'The area is very familiar to the boy.'
b'. De omgeving is deze jongen erg vertrouwd.

To conclude, we can say that the data in this section have shown that the nominal complements of adjectives cannot remain in their base position immediately to the left of the adjective, but are obligatorily moved leftward into some AP-external position. Why the noun phrase cannot remain in its base position is not clear at this moment.

    This topic is the result of an automatic conversion from Word and may therefore contain errors.
    A free Open Access publication of the corresponding volumes of the Syntax of Dutch is available at OAPEN.org.