Noun phrase structure in English
v In this chapter, we turn clause structure to noun phrase structure. we especially want to explore EMBEDDING, a principle underlying phrase structure in all languages. We start by looking at noun phrase structure in English, which illustrates embedding well.
(1) NP —- (D) (A) N
ü This rule will generate noun phrases like the following:
the big artichoke
ü A numeral can occur between the determiner and the adjective.
(3) two artichokes
two big artichokes
the two artichokes
the two big artichokes
ü Traditionally, numeral are classified as a type of adjective. however, they are not mutually substitutable for adjectives; for example, their ordering cannot be reversed.
(4) *big two artichokes
ü Therefore, we must recognize a separate category in the lexicon, called QUANTIFIER (Q), which includes numerals and other words which are mutually substitutable for them.
(5) Q (many, few, one, two, three …)
ü we must also add Q to the NP rule.
(6) NP —- (D) (Q) (A) N
ü Also, words like very, rather, and extremely, which are called DEGREE WORDS (Deg), can occur just before an adjective.
(7) many extremely ripe artichokes
ü What is the constituent structure of this example? There are two possibilities:
ü That is, do Deg and A together form an ADJECTIVE PHRASE (AP), as in (8b)? Or are they individually constituents of the NP, as in (8a)?
ü Extremely modifies ripe, rather than many or artichokes. That is, it is closer semantically to ripe than to other words. This suggests that(8b) is the correct structure. But, is there any syntactic evidence supporting this conclusion?
ü For starter, ripe can occur without extremely, but extremely cannot occur without ripe.
(9) many ripe artichokes
*many extremely artichokes.
ü This can be explained easily if we assume (8b) is correct and that it is generated by the following set of rules:
(10) Phrase structure rules for hypothesis in (8b)
NP — (D) (Q) (AP) N
AP — (Deg) A
ü These rules explicitly allow an A without a Deg, but not vice versa; the only way to get a Deg is to have an AP, and if you have an AP you also need an A. On the other hand, if we assume Deg is a daughter of NP, as in (8b), we would adopt an NP rule more like the following:
(11) Phrase structure rule for hypothesis in (8a)
NP — (D) (Q) (Deg) (A) N
ü This incorrectly allows a Deg to occur without an A, so, (10) and (8b) provide the better analysis. Another fact: more than one adjective can occur in a noun phrase and each can have its own degree word.
(12) many ripe, juice artichokes
many very ripe, very juicy artichokes
many very ripe, very large, very juicy artichokes
ü We can account for this easily if we assume that there is an AP. All we need is add an asterisk to the AP in (10), which indicates that there can be any number of APs in the NP.
(13) Desirable phrase structure rules for (12):
NP —= (D) (Q) (AP)* N
AP — (Deg) A
ü But if assume that Deg is a daughter of NP, as in (8a), we end up having to modify (11) into a horridly cumbersome rule.
(14) Undesirable phrase structure rule for (12):
NP — (D) (Q) (Deg) (A) (Deg) (A) (Deg) (A) N
ü And worse, this makes wrong prediction about further data; it allows a Deg word to follow an adjective.
(15) *the moldy very artichoke.
ü As if all this isn’t enough, adjectives can be modified by degree words in other contexts.
(16) a. The artichoke is very mushy. span>
b. Very mushy is a terrible condition for an artichoke to be in.
c. He made it very mushy.
ü Let’s look further. Quantifiers can be modified by degree word too.
(17) too many artichokes
approximately 300 artichokes
ü So we also need to allow for the possibility of a QUANTIFIER PHRASE (QP) inside the NP, for the same reason that we recognized an AP.
(18) NP — (D) (QP) )AP)* N
QP — (Deg) Q
AP — (Deg) A
ü What picture is beginning to emerge? All the major modifiers in an NP can be phrases; they are not limited to single words. And, if we push a little further, we find this true elsewhere. For example, the degree word (inside a QP or AP) can be replaced by a DEGREE PHRASE (DegP):
(19) [QP [DegPalmost too] many] artichokes
many[AP [DegP very very ] green] artichokes
ü So we need to change our rules again.
(20) NP — (D) (QP) (AP)* N
QP — (DegP) Q
AP — (DegP) A
DegP — … Deg
ü This phrase-within-phrase structure is more visible if we draw a tree generated by these rules.
ü Are there any other phrases that can occur inside a noun phrases? Yes, PREPOSITIONAL PHRASES (PPs) can.
(22) the artichoke [pp in the moon]
any artichoke [pp under the table]
the man [pp with the artichoke]
ü A prepositional phrase consists of a PREPOSITION, like in, under, or with, together with a noun phrase. We need to do two things in our grammar: (a) add a rule defining what a PP is and (b) include an optional PP at the end of the NP rule.
(23) PP — P NP
NP — (D) (QP) (AP)* N (PP)
QP — (DegP) Q
AP — (DegP) A
DegP — … Deg
Since an NP can contain a PP, and a PP in turn contains another NP, this results in a tree structure with one NP node dominating another (with a PP node in between).
ü And since a PP can be added to the inner (lower) NP, you can see that English has potential for producing some very large noun phrases.
10.2. Constraints on phrase structure rule
HEAD refers to the centrals and most important daughter of a Phrase. The head on NP is N, the head of VP is V, the head of AP is A, the head of PP is P, etc. All phrasal categories have heads , but not all word-level can be the heads of phrases; this is another way of saying that not all word types can have modifiers. D is such a category in English; there are no modifiers and thus there are no determiners and thus there are no determiner phrases for D to be the head of.
In English there are two ways to express possession. One uses a PP (headed by the preposition of ) embedded in an NP.
An artichoke [of mine]
The book [of yours]
This type is already accounted for in our rules, which allows a PP to be embedded inside an NP.
The other way of expressing possession involves an NP embedded at the beginning of a larger NP.
[NP[NP the artichoke’s] three shriveled leaves]
[NP[NP this book’s ] numerous artichoke examples]
This rule produces threes like the following.
[NP[NP[NP the butcher’s] wife’s] family]
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