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The Postposed Indefinite Article Noun Phrase from a Construction Grammar Perspective
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2010 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

English noun phrases (NP) which include degree modified adjectives show some interesting variation of the position of the indefinite article. A particularly salient pattern is displayed in This is anticipated to be more common a scenario than fleas spreading bubonic plague (BoE, BU-NX022521). The present paper is based on a study of utterances where this pattern was used even though a canonical word order would have been possible. Such constructs are referred to as the Optional Postposed Indefinite Article Noun Phrase (OPIANP) and have been collected from the British National Corpus (BNC) and Collins Word Banks Online: English Corpus (BoE). The central question is whether there is semantic motivation for this postposition of the indefinite article. The results suggest that there is such motivation, namely that the OPIANP could be an extension of a more frequent construction identified as the Postposed Indefinite Article Noun Phrase (PIANP). Furthermore, it is shown that the pattern’s semantics is unpredictable from the composition of its parts and that its primary function is that it positions already given arguments on an adjectival scale. That is, it foregrounds scalar qualities and backgrounds the noun. These conclusions stem from observations of patterns of unification with other constructions, illustrating how the OPIANP unifies best with the non-referential, descriptive PC-constructions and less well with referential constructions such as the subject and direct object constructions. These findings are remarkable as the idea of an adjective-scalar centred NP-construction challenges the idea of NPs being centred round their head, the noun.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. , 63 p.
Keyword [en]
Indefinite article, construction, construction grammar, OPIANP, PIANP, cognitive linguistics, degree modification, unification, semantic motivation, scalarity, noun phrase
National Category
Specific Languages
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-40006OAI: diva2:322304
2010-05-31, 13:40 (English)
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2010-09-09 Created: 2010-06-04 Last updated: 2011-01-27Bibliographically approved

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Hillert, Albin
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