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The Icelandic noun phrase: central traits

Publiceringsår: 2006
Språk: Engelska
Sidor: 193-236
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Arkiv för nordisk filologi
Volym: 121
Dokumenttyp: Artikel i tidskrift
Förlag: ANF


Since Abney (1987), generative syntax has invested much interest in the structure of the Noun Phrase, producing numerous theoretical as well as descriptive studies. Within the field of Scandinavian Noun Phrase studies, Delsing (1993) was a groundbreaking work that has since been followed up by several important studies, including Vangsnes et al. (2003) and Julien (2005). This field of inquiry is enormous and largely unexplored, so, in spite of much progress, it still suffers from both too limited general understanding and much too limited knowledge of facts. This paper purports to partly improve this situation by describing the most central traits of the Icelandic noun phrase, mostly in fairly theory-neutral terms. Three phenomena are studied in particular.

First, the order of elements in the NP, partly effected by two distinct leftward (Modifer+)Noun movements, to a Spec,G(enitive) position, yielding the type ‘old pens her’, and/or to a higher, more leftward Spec,D(eterminer) position, yielding, e.g., ‘old pens.the’.

Second, the adnominal genitive construction, which usually has the order Noun-Genitive, ‘pen her’, instead of the general Germanic Genitive-Noun order, ‘her pen’. While the head noun in the Genitive-Noun Construction is blocked from being definite across the Germanic languages considered in this article (*‘the her pen’ / *‘her the pen’ / *‘her pen.the’), this Genitive Definiteness Blocking often disappears in the Noun-Genitive Construction, which frequently either allows or requires the definite article (‘pen.the her’).

Third, the preproprial article, both in the Noun-Genitive Construction (‘pen.the her Mary ’ = ‘Mary’s pen’) and elsewhere. The plural preproprial articles (or pronouns) are of special interest, because of their rather unusual properties (‘we Mary’ = ‘Mary and I’, etc.).

I illustrate in some detail that the use of both the definite article in the Noun-Genitive Construction and of the preproprial article is triggered and conditioned by fine grained semantics, suggesting that the NP may have even richer structure than often assumed.


  • Languages and Literature
  • kinship term
  • N-movement
  • noun-genitive construction
  • definite article
  • adnominal genitive
  • name
  • identifiability
  • familiarity
  • relational noun
  • preproprial article


  • GRIMM-lup-obsolete
  • ISSN: 0066-7668

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