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Academic Paper


Title: Licensing by modification: The case of French de nominals
Author: Éric Mathieu
Email: click here TO access email
Homepage: http://artsites.uottawa.ca/eajmathieu/en
Institution: University of Ottawa
Linguistic Field: Semantics; Syntax
Subject Language: French
Abstract: The aim of this paper is to provide an analysis of the positive effect that modification has on the distribution of noun phrases in otherwise illicit environments. I focus on de nominals in French. By focusing on these nominals, whose distribution is altered by the addition of modifiers, the paper shows that modifiers can do much more than simply modify: they can change the syntactic and semantic status of a noun phrase. The licensing property of modifiers is an intriguing topic and has not been greatly discussed in the literature. I argue that modifiers can come to play the role of determiners in French as long as they are accompanied by a head de, which is the spell-out of a Cardinal head (see Lyons 1999). My proposal goes back to an old idea put forward by Damourette & Pichon (1911–1940)
according to which, in modified contexts, de functions as one half of the article while the adjective functions as the other half. More generally, articles in French are seen as dual entities comprising of a specifier and a head. In the absence of the determiner les, an adjective can raise to the specifier of CardinalP. This is achieved via phrasal rather than head movement.

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This article appears IN Journal of Linguistics Vol. 48, Issue 2, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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