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Academic Paper


Title: Aspects of the grammar of close apposition and the structure of the noun phrase
Author: Juan Carlos Acuña-Fariña
Institution: Universidade de Santiago de Compostela
Linguistic Field: Syntax
Abstract: The range of structures commonly classed as close appositives forms a rich ecological niche where each construction relates to the other constructions forming a dense network of taxonomic and inheritance ties (Goldberg 1995). As a first approximation to the concept of close apposition, however, the structure of that network falls outside the scope of this article, where I focus on the theoretical notion of close apposition itself, on how it deviates from that of loose apposition (Acuña-Fariña 2006), and on an analysis of a quintessentially close appositive construction, the the poet Burns type in the literature (Curme 1947; Lee 1952; Fries 1952; Haugen 1953; Hockett 1955, 1958). The thesis that these strings are formed by a doubly endocentric structure where the putative first segment (the poet) is a grounded nominal (i.e. an active referent; e.g. Langacker 1991; Taylor 2002) is rejected. Instead, it is argued that these highly conventionalized close appositions are instances of ‘inchoate’ noun phrase structure, and that the internal constituency of such strings is not fully elaborated due to a lack of strong functional pressure. Three reasons are put forward in order to defend such a view: 1. the construction has as its job the activation of a social referent, and in the social world that we inhabit this is usually done either by name or profession, with no logical incompatibility between the two; 2. the construction is a hybrid of distinct and more productive (and fully elaborated) templates, which act as attractor poles and pull constituency in opposite directions; and 3. the construction is easily identifiable as such ‘from the top’. This makes it unnecessary to have to spend valuable cognitive resources (like creating, storing and deploying inaudible, abstract, constituent structure) when, somewhat metaphorically, one can reach the final destination of that journey (the last stop being meaning) directly, as it were, with no changing of trains (Haiman 1994; Boyland 1996; Hay 2001). The present analysis is framed along lines compatible with various forms of Construction Grammar.

CUP at LINGUIST

This article appears in English Language and Linguistics Vol. 13, Issue 3, which you can read on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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