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Section 1.1.2 has suggested that the internal structure of the DP can be represented as in (1), in which the determiner D and the noun N are the heads of the projections DP and NP, respectively. The dots indicate the positions available for possible other elements, that is, for modifiers and complements. The present chapter is concerned with the various forms of modification of the NP; for a detailed discussion of complementation in the NP the reader is referred to Chapter 2, and for a discussion of modifiers in the DP to Chapter 7. The relation between the two nouns in binominal constructions such as een reep chocola'a bar [of] chocolate' is of a different nature, and is discussed in Chapter 4.

[DP ... D ... [NP ... N ....] ]

Apart from the obligatory head noun and its (optional or obligatory) complements, each noun phrase may contain one or more modifiers. These modifiers can be categorized according to their function, form and position.

[+]  I.  Restrictive and non-restrictive modifiers

Modifiers can have either a restrictive or a nonrestrictive function. Restrictive modifiers restrict the denotation of the head noun and thus provide information that is required for the proper identification of the referent of the DP as a whole; we will therefore assume that they are part of the NP-domain, as in (2a). Non-restrictive modifiers, on the other hand, do not restrict the denotation of the head noun and thus do not provide information that is required for the identification of the referent of the entire DP. Rather, they provide more information about the intended referent of the DP, and we will therefore assume that non-restrictive modifiers modify the complete noun phrase; they are part of the DP-domain, and external to the NP-domain as in (2b).

a. [DP ... D ... [NP MODrestrictive [N (complement)] MODrestrictive]]
b. [DP ... D ... MODnon-restrictive [NP N (complement)] MODnon-restrictive]

Non-restrictive modifiers are usually easily recognizable: they are separated off from their head by a specific intonation pattern (in written language by means of a comma), thus reflecting the loose relationship between head and non-restrictive modifiers. Restrictive modifiers, on the other hand, may be hard to distinguish from complements; for a discussion of the differences between restrictive modifiers and complements, see Section 2.2.1 (for PPs) and Section 2.3.3 (for clauses).

[+]  II.  Form and placement

As is indicated in (2), restrictive and non-restrictive modifiers within the DP can appear in two different positions: they may precede or follow the head of the DP. The actual placement of the modifier is sensitive to the form of the modifier. Prenominal modifiers are always headed by an adjective, a present or past participle, or a modal infinitive; if these phrases are complex they may also occur postnominally. Postnominal modifiers, on the other hand, typically take the form of a prepositional phrase or a clause. Semantically, the modifying clauses can be subdivided into content, relative, and adverbial clauses. Finally, a restricted number of adverbial phrases can be used as postnominal modifiers. Table 1 gives examples of all the relevant constructions.

Table 1: The form and position of modifiers in the DP
form premodification postmodification
Adjectival de vette koeien
the fat cows
de koeien, vet en oud, ...
the cows fat and old
Participial de grazende koeien
the grazing cows
de koeien, grazend in de wei, ...
the cows grazing in the field
de geslachte koeien
the slaughtered cows
de koeien, geslacht in het slachthuis, ...
the cows slaughtered in the slaughterhouse
Infinitival de te slachten koeien
the to be slaughtered cows
‘the cows to be slaughtered’
de koeien, binnenkort te slachten, ...
the cows soon to be slaughtered
Prepositional de koeien in de wei
the cows in the field
Clausal Content de mededeling dat we weggingen, ...
the announcement that we away.went
‘the announcement that we were leaving’
Relative de koeien die grazen in de wei
the cows that graze in the field
Adverbial de protesten sinds de euro werd ingevoerd
the protests since the euro was introduced
Adverbial de krant gisteren
the paper yesterday

The organization of the present chapter is as follows. Section 3.1 begins with a brief general discussion of the difference between restrictive and non-restrictive modifiers, and also pays some attention to the difference between modifiers and appositives. Sections 3.2 and 3.3 deal with pre- and postmodification, respectively. The discussion of premodification is comparatively short, since it is dealt with in great detail in Chapter A5.

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