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Show full table of contents The projection of N2

This section discusses the projection headed by N2. It will be argued that this projection is not a DP, but a phrase that is somewhat smaller.

[+]  I.  Determiners

One reason for assuming that the phrase headed by N2 is not a DP is that it can never be preceded by an article, a demonstrative or a possessive pronoun. This is shown in (100) both for count and for non-count nouns. By way of contrast, the primed examples give the corresponding partitive constructions, in which the projection of N2 does act as a full DP; see Section for a discussion of this construction.

Example 100
a. * een boel de/die/mijn boeken
count noun
  a lot [of]  the/those/my  books
a'. een boel van de/die/mijn boeken
  a lot  of  the/those/my  books
b. * een glas de/deze/zijn cognac
non-count noun
  a glass [of]  the/this/his  cognac
b'. een glas van de/deze/je cognac
  a glass  of  the/this/your  cognac

One might suggest that the ungrammaticality of the primeless examples is due to the fact that the determiners make the projection headed by N2 definite. It should be noted, however, that an indefinite article cannot be used either, as is shown by (101a); compare this QC with the partitive construction in (101b), in which the indefinite article must be expressed.

Example 101
a. Ik kreeg van Peter een glas (*een) uitgelezen cognac.
  got  from Peter  a glass [of]    an  exquisite cognac
b. Ik kreeg van Peter een glas van *(een) uitgelezen cognac.
  got  from Peter  a glass  of     an  exquisite cognac
[+]  II.  Proper nouns and pronouns

Another reason for assuming that N2 does not head a DP is that substituting a pronoun for the projection of N2 yields an unacceptable result. The ungrammaticality of (102a&b) is not conclusive since we are dealing with definite pronouns. Example (102c) shows, however, that existential quantifiers are excluded as well. By way of comparison, the primed examples give the corresponding partitive constructions; note that van het/ze'of it/them' is not possible, but this is due to the general rule that replaces the inanimate pronouns het/ze'it/them' with the R-pronoun er in this syntactic context.

Example 102
a. * een fles het
  a bottle [of]  it
a'. een fles ervan
  a bottle  of.it
b. * een doos ze
  a box [of]  them
b'. een doos ervan
  a box  of.it
c. * een fles iets (lekkers)
  a bottle [of]  something tasty
c'. een fles van iets (lekkers)
  a bottle  of  something tasty
[+]  III.  Complementation and modification

Although the examples above support the idea that N2 does not head a DP, we cannot conclude that N2 is a bare noun. This is clear from the fact that it may take an argument, as is shown for the relational noun vriendjes'friends' in (103a). Further, N2 can be modified by all sorts of modifiers: an attributive adjective in (103b), an appositive phrase in (103c), an adjunct PP in (103d), and a restrictive relative clause in (103e).

Example 103
a. een hoop vriendjes van Jan
  a lot [of]  friends of Jan
b. een liter warme melk
  a liter [of]  warm milk
c. een glas melk direct van de koe
  a glass [of]  milk  straight from the cow
d. een stuk appeltaart met slagroom
  a piece [of]  apple.pie  with cream
e. een groep studenten die demonstreren
  a group [of]  students  who demonstrate

For completeness’ sake, note that N2 can be modified by an adjective in the positive or the comparative form but not an adjective in the superlative form. This might be due to the fact that noun phrases containing a superlative are definite: de/*een aardigste student'the/a kindest student'. Finally, note that a pseudo-superlative like alleraardigste could be used, but these do not necessarily trigger a definite interpretation.

Example 104
a. een groep aardige studenten
  a group [of]  nice  students
b. een groep (nog) aardigere studenten
  a group [of]  even  nicer  students
c. * een groep aardigste studenten
  a group [of]  nicest  students
[+]  IV.  Numerals and quantifiers

Cardinal numerals and quantifiers cannot precede N2. This, however, has no bearing on what the size of the projection of N2 is, given that a plausible explanation for the impossibility of (105) can be found in the fact that they are in the scope of the N1, which also has quantifying force; cf. *veel vijf studenten'many five students'.

Example 105
* een paar vijf/veel studenten
  a couple [of]  five/many  students
[+]  V.  Initial coordination

The claim that N2 heads a projection that is somewhat smaller than a DP can also be supported by evidence involving initial coordination, that is,coordination by means of discontinuous coordinators like of ... of ...'either ... or ...' and zowel ... als ...'both ... and ...'. In the primeless examples in (106) the two conjuncts each include an article so we may safely conclude that we are dealing with full DPs, and we see that the result of initial coordination is fine; in the primed examples, on the other hand, we are dealing with the smaller phrases oude mannen'old men' and oude vrouwen'old women', and the result of initial coordination is unacceptable.

Example 106
a. of de oude mannen of de oude vrouwen
  either  the old men  or  the old women
a'. * de of oude mannen of oude vrouwen
b. zowel de oude mannen als de oude vrouwen
  both  the old men  and  the old women
b'. * de zowel [oude mannen] als [oude vrouwen]

When N2s head a phrase that is smaller than a full noun phrase, we predict that initial coordination of phrases headed by such nouns is impossible. As is shown in the primed examples in (107) for quantifier and collective nouns by means of zowel ... als ..., this expectation is indeed borne out. Note that it is not coordination itself that causes the ungrammaticality, since the primeless examples with the conjunction en'and' are fully acceptable.

Example 107
a. een paar oude mannen en oude vrouwen
  a couple [of]  old man and old women
a'. * een paar zowel oude mannenals oude vrouwen
  a couple [of]  both old men and old women
b. een groep Engelse jongens en Franse meisjes
  a group [of]  English boys and French girls
b'. * een groep zowel Engelse jongens als Franse meisjes
  a group [of]  both English boys and French girls
[+]  VI.  Movement

The primeless examples in (108) show that the projection headed by N2 can never be moved independently from N1; the noun phrase consisting of N1 and N2 cannot be split. The primed examples show that the same thing holds for numerals and quantifiers: Standard Dutch does not allow this so-called split topicalization construction. That the judgments on the primeless and the primed examples are related is clear from the fact that those dialects that do allow the primeless examples also allow the split patterns in the primed examples. We refer the reader to Coppen (1991), Vos (1999), and Van Hoof (2006) for a discussion of split topicalization.

Example 108
a. * Pinguïns heb ik [NP een heleboel [e]] gezien aan de Zuidpool.
  penguins  have  a lot  seen  at the South.Pole
a'. * Pinguïns heb ik [NP drie [e]] gezien aan de Zuidpool.
  penguins  have  three  seen  at the South.Pole
b. * Bramen heb ik[NP drie emmers e ] geplukt.
  blackberries  have  three buckets  picked
b'. * Bramen heb ik[NP veel [e]] geplukt.
  blackberries  have  many  picked
[+]  VII.  Quantitative er

That the phrase headed by N2 and the nominal projection following a numeral sometimes exhibit similar behavior is also clear from the fact already discussed in Section, sub IVA, that both can be replaced by quantitative er if N1 is a quantifier or measure noun. This again shows that the projection of N2 is smaller than DP, given that DPs cannot be replaced in this way.

Example 109
a. Ik heb er aan de Zuidpool [NP een heleboel [e]] gezien.
  have  er  at the South.Pole  a lot  seen
b. Ik heb er aan de Zuidpool [NP drie [e]] gezien.
  have  er  at the South.Pole  three  seen
  • Coppen, Peter-Arno1991Specifying the noun phraseAmsterdamThesis Publishers
  • Hoof, Hanneke van2006Split topicalizationEveraert, Martin & Riemsdijk, Henk van (eds.)The Blackwell companion to syntax4Malden. Ma/OxfordBlackwell Publishing410-465
  • Vos, Riet1999A grammar of partitive constructionsTilburgUniversity of TilburgThesis
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