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4.1.3. Other constructions

Besides the binominal constructions discussed in Sections 4.1.1 and 4.1.2, there are various other types of binominal constructions without a preposition. Although we are generally dealing with a modification relation between the two nouns, it is sometimes not immediately clear in which direction the modification relation goes. An example such as de staat Washington'the state Washington', for instance, may be ambiguous between two different readings: on the first reading N2 has a modifying function with respect to N1, and enables the hearer to pick out the intended state; on the second reading N1 modifies N2, and thus distinguishes between Washington DC and the state of Washington. The two readings seem to differ in the intonation patterns they trigger: on the first reading, accent is preferably given to N2, whereas on the second reading it is instead N1 that receives contrastive accent. It may be the case that the two readings also involve different syntactic structures (for instance [NP N [NP N]] versus [NP [NP N] N]), but at this moment we do not have any evidence that bears on this issue. It seems that the most common modification relation is that in which N2 has a modifying function with respect to N1. Some typical examples, which are often given in the literature, are given in (179). This section will discuss a number of systematic types of examples.

Example 179
a. de maand mei
  the  month [of]  may
b. de leraar wiskunde
  the  teacher  math
  'the math teacher'
[+]  I.  Binominal constructions that can be used as vocatives and arguments

In this construction type, N2 is a proper noun referring to a person. When the construction as a whole refers to a person, N1 can be a rank in a hierarchically ordered organization like the army or the church, a title, a form of address or a kinship noun (especially tante'aunt' and oom'uncle'). Some examples, mainly adapted from Haeseryn et al. (1997), are given in (180).

Example 180
a. Rank: koningin Beatrix'Queen Beatrix'; generaal McArthur'General McArthur'
b. Title: doctor Jansen'Dr. Jansen'; Graaf Grisenstijn'Count Grisenstijn'
c. Form of address: meneer/mevrouw Verdonk'Mr./Mrs. Verdonk'
d. Kinship noun: tante Jeanne'Aunt Jeanne'; oom/ome Ben'Uncle Ben'

The resulting structures in (180) function as a complex proper nouns, which is clear from the fact that they normally cannot be preceded by an article. The examples in (181) show that in this respect they crucially differ from constructions in which the N1s occur on their own.

Example 181
a. Ik heb (*de) koningin Beatrix gezien.
  have    the  Queen  Beatrix seen
b. Ik heb *(de) koningin gezien.
  have     the  Queen  seen

It is also clear from the fact illustrated in (182) that, like proper nouns, binominal constructions can be used both as vocative, and in regular argument position.

Example 182
a. Docter Jansen, kunt u even komen?
  Dr. Jansen  can  you  for.a.moment  come
b. Kan dokter Jansen even komen?
  can  Doctor Jansen  for.a.moment  come

      Forms of address like meneer and mevrouw can be followed by a noun phrase denoting a highly ranked profession or social function, as in (183a). When the second noun phrase denotes a “lower” profession or implies some subjective qualification, as in (183b), the complex noun phrase gets an ironic connotation. In cases like these, the projection of N2 necessarily contains the definite article. N1, on the other hand, is never preceded by a definite article, which again suggests that the construction as a whole functions as a proper noun.

Example 183
a. mevrouw de voorzitter; meneer de president
  Madam  the Chairman;  Mister  the President
b. meneer de student; meneer de verrader
  Mister  the student;  Mister  the traitor

Constructions such as (183) differ from the ones in (180), however, in that their use is more restricted. Their normal use is that of vocative, and they can only be used in argument position if the person referred to is physically present. So, whereas (182b) can be uttered in the absence of the intended person, example (184b) seems to require that the intended person be physically present.

Example 184
a. Mevrouw de voorzitter, kunt u uitleggen waarom ....
  Mrs.  the chairperson  can  you  explain  why
b. Kan mevrouw de voorzitter uitleggen waarom ....
  can  Mrs.  the chairperson  explain  why

Example (185a) illustrates by means of the title noun professor that some of the N1s in (180) can be pluralized (De Belder 2009). Since this requires that a determiner be present, it is not clear whether we are dealing with a construction of the type in (180) here. The fact illustrated in (185b) that such plural noun phrases cannot be used as vocative suggests that we are dealing with a binominal construction of the type discussed in the next subsection.

Example 185
a. Kunnen *(de) professoren Chomsky and Kayne even komen?
  can     the professors Chomsky and Kayne  for.a.moment  come
b. *? Professoren Chomsky and Kayne, kunt u even komen?
  Professors Chomsky and Kayne  can  you  for.a.moment  come

      Binominal constructions such as tante Jeanne'aunt Jeanne' should be distinguished from phrases like mijn zuster Els. This is immediately clear from the fact that the latter cannot be used as a vocative; see the contrast between the (c)-examples in (186). The proper noun Els functions instead as an appositive, which is clear from the distinctive intonation pattern in (186b'), with an intonation break preceding and following it; (186a') does not exhibit this intonation pattern, but can probably be seen as the non-restrictive counterpart of (186b'). For a more extensive discussion of appositions, see Section 3.1.3.

Example 186
a. Tante Jeanne is ziek.
  Aunt  Jeanne is ill
a'. Mijn zuster Els is ziek.
  my sister  Els is ill
b. * Tante, Jeanne, is ziek.
  aunt  Jeanne  is ill
b'. Mijn zuster, Els, is ziek.
  my sister  Els  is ill
c. Tante Jeanne, bent u boven?
  Aunt Jeanne  are  you  upstairs
c'. * Mijn zuster Els, ben je boven?
  my sister Els  are  you  upstairs
[+]  II.  Binominal constructions that can only be used as arguments

If the construction as a whole refers to a geographical entity, N1 can be a noun that denotes the set of geographical entities that the referent of the entire binominal construction is a member of. Some typical examples are given in (187). In examples like these the modification relation is typically bidirectional: while it is clear that the proper noun enables the hearer to identify the intended river, state or city, it is at the same time expressed that the proper noun refers to a river, a state and a city, respectively. Whether both directions are indeed activated may also be related to the extra-linguistic knowledge of the hearer: in (187b), it will be prominent for those speakers who are aware of the fact that the proper noun Utrecht is used both for the province Utrecht and its capital city. Note that in these cases N1 is typically preceded by a definite article, and that the proper noun may also be preceded by an article, provided that it also has one if used in isolation.

Example 187
a. de rivier de Amstel'the river Amstel'
b. de provincie/stad Utrecht'the province of Utrecht'
c. de stad Amsterdam'the city of Amsterdam'

The bidirectional relation also seems to hold for examples such as (188). This is perhaps not so clear in (188a), where it is clearly the proper noun that modifies the noun familie and not vice versa, but it is in (188b), where it is simultaneously expressed that we are dealing with a poetess called Vasalis, and that Vasalis is a poetess. Again, the use of a definite article seems obligatory.

Example 188
a. de familie Jansen
  the family  Jansen
  'the Jansen family'
b. de dichteres Vasalis
  the poetess  Vasalis

Note that the order of the common and the proper noun can sometimes be reversed, as is shown in (189a). By using this example we are referring to the person Jan Wolkers in his capacity as a writer (as opposed to his quality as, e.g., a sculptor). It seems reasonable, however, to not consider this example as a binominal construction but as the restrictive counterpart of the construction in (189b), in which we are clearly dealing with an appositive noun phrase.

Example 189
a. Jan Wolkers de schrijver is erg geliefd in Nederland.
  Jan Wolkers  the writer  is much loved in the.Netherlands
b. Jan Wolkers, de (beroemde) schrijver, houdt hier vanavond een lezing.
  Jan Wolkers  the famous writer  gives here tonight a lecture
  'Jan Wolkers, the (famous) writer, will give a lecture here tonight.'

Examples such as (190) seem close to the examples in (189) but may be crucially different as the phrase following the proper noun may simply function as a surname, which is orthographically represented by writing N2 with a capital and may be reflected in that N2 has lost its descriptive content; the person referred to by Jan de Bakker in (190b), who was the first martyr of the Protestant faith in the Netherlands, was not a baker but a priest.

Example 190
a. Paulus de Boskabouter
  Paulus the wood.gnome
b. Jan de Bakker

      As a result of the addition of the proper noun, the binominal phrases discussed so far (188) are uniquely identifying. The same effect can be attained by the noun phrases that contain a numeral in (191a), in which the numeral identifies the referent of the full noun phrase. Something similar happens in (191b&c), where the nouns boek and Jan are not used in their normal denoting function but as meta-linguistic expressions referring to the word themselves.

Example 191
a. agent 007; kamer B105; bus 22; bladzijde 79
  agent  007;  room B105; bus 22;  page 79
b. Het woord boek is een enkelvoudig nomen.
  the word boek  is a singular noun
c. In taalkundige artikelen wordt altijd de naam Jan gebruikt.
  in linguistic articles  is  always  the name Jan  used
  'In linguistic articles it is always the name Jan that is used.'
[+]  III.  Unclear cases

Occasionally, it is not so clear whether we are dealing with true binominal constructions. Take (192a) as an example. This example differs from the examples above in that it is not a uniquely referring expression. Furthermore, it is possible to express the same meaning by means of a postnominal PP. This suggests that the binominal construction is simply an abbreviated version of the noun phrase with a PP-modifier. Something similar could be claimed for (192b), which can be seen as the abbreviated version of (192b').

Example 192
a. een kaartje (voor de) eerste klasse
  a ticket   for the  first class
  'a first class ticket'
b. een retourtje Amsterdam-Den Haag
  return.ticket  Amsterdam-the Hague
b'. een retourtje van Amsterdam naar Den Haag
  return.ticket  from Amsterdam to the Hague

      In cases such as (193), the binominal construction as a whole acts as a proper noun, referring to a certain cabinet, committee, method, etc. The second noun is normally the family name of some person who is intimately related to the referent of the noun phrase as a whole. In cases like these, the binominal construction comes pretty close to a compound, which is also clear from the fact that, in writing, the two nouns are generally linked by means of a hyphen.

Example 193
a. het vierde kabinet-Balkenende
  the fourth cabinet-Balkenende
b. de commissie-Van Traa
  the committee-Van Traa
c. de methode-Paardekooper
  the method-Paardekooper

      The examples in (194), in which the second noun phrase has the form of a genitive noun phrase, are clearly relics from the older stages of the language. In present-day Dutch such noun phrases would normally be realized by means of a postnominal van-phrase instead of the genitive noun phrase.

Example 194
a. Dag des Oordeels
  day  thegen  judgmentgen
b. de heer des huizes
  the  master  thegen  housegen
  'the master of the house'
  • De Belder, Marijke2009On the occurence of titlesTIN-dagUtrecht
  • Haeseryn, Walter, Romijn, Kirsten, Geerts, Guido, Rooij, Jaap de & Toorn, Maarten C. van den1997Algemene Nederlandse spraakkunstGroningenNijhoff
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