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4.1.1.5. Modification of quantificational binominal constructions
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This section investigates modification of the nouns in a QC. We will discuss attributive adjectives, PP-modifiers and relative clauses.

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[+]  I.  Attributive adjectives

Section 4.1.1.3, sub IIE, has shown that N1 can only be modified by a limited set of attributive adjectives, namely those with a quantificational meaning or indicating size. In other cases, attributive adjectives preceding N1 actually modify N2 (see Section 4.1.1.2, sub IIB, for details), despite the fact that in these cases gender and number agreement is always with N1, not N2.

Example 110
a. een lekker/*lekkere glas wijn
  tasty  glass [of]  wine
b. een lekker/*lekkere stuk kaas
  tasty  piece [of]  cheese

In (110), the singular neuter noun glas/stuk requires that the attributive –e ending be absent, whereas agreement between the adjective and the non-neuter substance noun N2 would have required presence of the –e ending. This is clear from the fact, illustrated in (111), that the –e ending must be present if the adjective follows N1. This shows, again, that if N2 functions as the semantic head of the QC, this does not imply that it also functions as the syntactic head.

Example 111
a. een glas lekkere wijn
  a glass [of]  tasty wine
b. een stuk lekkere kaas
  a piece [of]  tasty cheese

The attributive inflection on the adjective lekker in (110) is sensitive to the number and definiteness feature of the full binominal phrase; if the singular N1 is replaced by a plural one, or if the indefinite article een is replaced by the definite article het, the adjective must have the –e ending. This is shown for (110a) in (112): note that we replaced the non-neuter N2 wijn by the neuter N2 bier in order to block interference of the gender feature of this noun.

Example 112
a. vier lekkere/*lekker glazen bier
  four  tasty  glasses [of]  beer
b. het lekkere/*lekker glas beer
  the tasty  glass [of]  beer

If the adjective immediately precedes N2, on the other hand, the adjective is not sensitive to the number and definiteness feature of the full binominal phrase. This is shown in (113), in which the adjective agrees with the neuter substance noun in all cases, although it should be noted that, for some speakers, examples (113b&c) are somewhat marked.

Example 113
a. een glas lekker/*lekkere bier
  a glass [of]  tasty  beer
b. vier glazen ?lekker/*lekkere bier
  four glasses [of]   tasty  beer
c. het glas ?lekker/*lekkere bier
  the glass [of]   tasty  beer

      Attributive set-denoting adjectives modifying N2 can only precede N1 if they are set-denoting, that is, adjectives that normally can also occur as the predicate in a copular construction. Placing an adjective that does not belong to this group in front of N1 normally gives rise to a degraded result.

Example 114
a. een groep Amerikaanse toeristen
  group [of]  American  tourists
a'. ?? een Amerikaanse groep toeristen
b'. een groep vermeende misdadigers
  a group [of]  alleged  criminals
b'. *? een vermeende groep misdadigers

Furthermore, the attributively used set-denoting adjectives must denote a property of N2; in cases such as (115), where the adjective has a classifying function instead, the adjective cannot precede N1 either.

Example 115
a. # een wit/rood glas wijn
  white/red  glass [of]  wine
a. een glas witte/rode wijn
  a glass [of]  white/red  wine
b. # een vervalste doos diamanten
  forged box [of]  diamonds
b'. een doos vervalste diamanten
  a box [of]  forged  diamonds

Finally, it should not be possible to construe the attributively used adjective with N1: in examples such as (116a) the construal of the adjective with N2 is blocked by the fact that it can also express a property of N1; in order to modify N2 the adjective must occur after N1, as in (116b).

Example 116
a. een grote doos eieren
  big  box [of]  eggs
  'a big box with eggs'
b. een doos grote eieren
  box [of]  big  eggs
  'a box with big eggs'
[+]  II.  Prepositional phrases

Modifying PPs never intervene between N1 and N2, regardless of whether it is N1 or N2 that is modified. First, consider the examples in (117): the PPs met een deksel'with a lid' and met statiegeld'with deposit money' clearly belong to the container nouns doos and krat (which is also clear from the fact that N2 can be dropped), but nevertheless they follow N2. This fact that the PP cannot be placed between N1 and N2 suggests that the PP actually modifies a phrase containing both N1 and N2, not just N1. If this is indeed correct, the structure of these noun phrases is as indicated in the primed examples.

Example 117
a. een doos (sigaren) met een deksel
  a box [of]   cigars  with a lid
a'. [een [[doos sigaren] met een deksel]]
b. een krat (bier) met statiegeld
  a crate [of]   beer  with deposit
b'. [een [[krat bier]met statiegeld]]

In the examples in (117), the referential meaning of the N1s is highlighted at the expense of their quantificational force; (117a), for example, does not refer to a quantity of cigars but simply to a box containing cigars; the construction is more or lesss synonymous with een doos met sigaren'a box with cigars'. Consequently it is N1, and not N2, that acts as the semantic head of the examples in (117). This also clear from the fact that examples such as (118), where the verb forces a reading in which N2 acts as the semantic head of the QC, are semantically anomalous when a PP-modifier of N1 is present.

Example 118
a. Jan heeft gisteren een doos sigaren ($met een deksel) gerookt.
  Jan has yesterday  a box [of] cigars     with a lid  smoked
b. Ik heb gisteren een krat bier ($met statiegeld) opgedronken.
  have yesterday  a crate [of] beer     with deposit  prt.-drunk

Since modification of N1 by means of a PP suppresses the quantificational meaning of N1, we expect that purely quantificational nouns cannot be modified by a PP: that this is borne out is clear from the fact that the examples in (119) only allow an interpretation in which uit die pot/fles modifies N2, which is clear from the fact that N2 cannot be dropped. However, given that we have seen that the PP may also modify the complete QC, one might want to argue that these examples can be ambiguous between the structures in the primed and doubly-primed example; we leave it to future research to discuss whether the examples in (119a&b) are really ambiguous in this way.

Example 119
a. een aantal *(bonen) uit die pot
  a number [of]     beans  from that pot
a'. [een aantal [bonen uit die pot]]
a''. [een [[aantal bonen] uit die pot]]
b. een liter ??(water) uit die fles
  a liter      water  from that bottle
b'. [een liter [water uit die fles]]
b''. [een [[liter water] uit die fles]]

Whatever one wants to conclude about the structure of the examples in (119a&b), it seems that the analysis suggested in the doubly-primed examples is not available if N1 is referential. This can be made clear by the examples in (120). Despite its complexity, example (120a) seems acceptable: the PP zonder pitten must be interpreted as a modifier of N2, and met een deksel as a modifier of N1. Changing the order of the two PPs, as in (120a'), makes the construction completely unacceptable, which would immediately follow if we assume that the PP modifying N2 is embedded in the noun phrase headed by N2, as indicated in (120b), but not if we assume that it is external to a phrase containing both N1 andN2.

Example 120
a. een kist sinaasappelen zonder pitten met een deksel
  a box [of]  oranges  without pips  with a lid
a'. * een kistje sinaasappelen met een deksel zonder pitten
b. [een [[kist [sinaasappelen zonder pitten] met een deksel]]]
[+]  III.  Relative clauses

Just like PP-modifiers, relative clauses never intervene between N1 and N2, regardless of whether it is N1 or N2 that is modified. Some examples are given in (121): the relative clauses in these examples can only be construed with the container nouns doos and krat, which is clear from the fact that N1 triggers singular agreement on the finite verb of the relative clause, and from the fact that N2 can be dropped. Nevertheless, the relative clauses must follow N2. The fact that the relative clause cannot be placed between N1 and N2 suggests that it modifies a phrase containing both N1 and N2, not just N1. If this is correct, the structure of these noun phrases is as indicated in the primed examples.

Example 121
a. een doos (sigaren) die kapot is
  a box [of]   cigars  that  broken  is
a'. [een [[doos sigaren] die kapot is]]
b. een krat (bier) waarop statiegeld zit
  a crate [of]   beer  where-on  deposit.money  sits
  'a crate of beer on which deposit money must be paid'
b'. [een [[krat bier] waarop statiegeld zit]]

In (121), the referential meaning of the N1s is highlighted at the expense of their quantificational force. This accounts for the fact that examples such as (122), where the verb forces a reading in which N2 acts as the semantic head, are semantically anomalous when the relative clause is present.

Example 122
a. Jan heeft gisteren een doos sigaren ($die kapot is) gerookt.
  Jan has yesterday  a box [of] cigars    that broken is  smoked
b. Jan heeft net een krat bier ($waarop statiegeld zit) opgedronken.
  Jan has  just  a crate [of] beer  where-on deposit.money sits  prt.-drunk

Since modification of N1 by a relative clause suppresses the quantificational meaning of N1, it is expected that purely quantificational nouns cannot be modified: that this is indeed correct is shown by the fact that the examples in (123) only allow an interpretation in which the relative clause modifies N2. This is clear not only from the semantic interpretation, but also from the fact illustrated in (123a) that it is N2 that triggers number agreement on the finite verb in the relative clause, and from the fact illustrated in (123b) that it is N2 that triggers gender agreement on the relative pronoun. Note that example (123b) with the relative pronoun die improves if the indefinite article is replaced by the definite article de, which is of course due to the fact that N1 is then construed as a referring expression.

Example 123
a. een boelsg bonenpl die verrot zijnpl/*issg
  a lot [of]  beans  that rotten  are/is
b. een liter[-neuter] water[+neuter] dat[+neuter]/*die[-neuter] gemorst is
  a liter [of]  water  that  spilled  is

Given that the relative clause may in principle modify the complete QC, one might want to claim that the examples in (123) are ambiguous, and can be associated with either the structures in the primeless or the structures in the primed examples in (124).

Example 124
a. [een boel [bonen die verrot zijn]]
a'. [een [boel bonen] die verrot zijn]
b. [een liter [water dat gemorst is]]
b'. [een [[liter water] dat gemorst is]]

There is reason for assuming that both structures are indeed available. First, recall from Section 4.1.1.3, sub IIA, that purely quantificational N1s normally cannot be preceded by a definite article, but that this becomes possible if the QC is modified by a relative clause; this is illustrated again in (125).

Example 125
a. Ik heb een/*de stoot studenten geïnterviewd.
  have  a/the lot [of]  students  interviewed
b. de stoot studenten die door mij geïnterviewd zijn
  the lot [of]  students  that  by me  interviewed  are
  'the many students that are interviewed by me'

We also showed in that section that this is a more general phenomenon: proper nouns like Amsterdam, which normally do not license a definite article, can be preceded by it if they are modified by a relative clause: cf. het Amsterdam *(dat ik ken uit mijn jeugd)'the Amsterdam *(that I know from my childhood)'. The crucial point is that the definite article is licensed on the antecedent of the relative pronoun, and this suggests that in (125b) it is the full QC that acts as the antecedent of the relative pronoun: the definite article precedes N1, not N2. This suggests that the structures in the primed examples in (124) are possible alongside the primeless ones.
      It seems, however, that the primed structures are not available if N1 is referential. This can be made clear by means of the examples in (126). Despite its complexity, example (126a) seems acceptable:the first relative clause must be construed with the N2 sinaasappelen and the second one with the N1 kistje, which is clear from the fact that they agree with the respective relative pronouns in number/gender. Changing the order of the two relative clauses, as in (126a'), results in ungrammaticality, which would immediately follow if we assume that the relative clause modifying N2 is embedded in the nominal projection headed by N2, as indicated in (126b), but not if we assume that it is external to a phrase containing both N1 andN2.

Example 126
a. ? een kistje sinaasappels [RC1 die verrot zijn] [RC2 dat kapot is]
  a boxdim [of]  oranges  that rotten are  that broken is
a'. * een kistje sinaasappels [RC2 dat kapot is] [RC1 die verrot zijn]
b. [een [kistje [sinaasappelsi diei verrot zijn]]j datj kapot is]

      For completeness’ sake, note that the same order restriction seem to hold when the modifiers are respectively a PP and a relative clause. The examples show that the modifier of N2 alwaysprecedes the modifierof N1; example (127b') is of course grammatical but not under the intended reading that the oranges are from Spain.

Example 127
a. een kistje sinaasappels [RC die verrot waren] [PP met roestige spijkers]
  a boxdim [of] oranges  that rotten were  with rusty nails
a'. * een kist sinaasappels [met roestige spijkers] [die verrot waren]
b. een kistje sinaasappels [PP uit Spanje] [RC2 dat kapot is]
  a boxdim [of] oranges  from Spain  that broken is
b'. # een kistje sinaasappels [RC2 dat kapot is] [PP uit Spanje]
[+]  IV.  Conclusion

This section has shown that both N1 and N2 can be modified. If N1 is modified, it seems that the complete QC is in the scope of the modifier. If N2 is modified either the complete QC or the projection of N2 can be in the scope of the modifier, depending on the status of N1: if N1 is purely quantificational, both structures seem available; if it is referential the scope of the modifier seems restricted to the projection of N2.

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