Proper names used as modifiers: A comprehensive functional analysis

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My central concern is the special use of proper names in the English noun phrase first discussed by Rosenbach (2006; 2007; 2010, Koptjevskaja-Tamm & Rosenbach 2005): proper names which are used as modifiers with an identifying function, e.g. the Bush administration (‘Which administration does the noun phrase refer to? The one headed by Bush’). On the basis of a corpus study, I argue that existing analyses of Rosenbach (2007) and Schlücker (2013) fail to account for all cases, and also fail to capture the seemingly contradictory syntactic and functional properties of these proper names in a unified way. My alternative analysis is framed within Halliday’s (1994) functional model of the English noun phrase, but radically thinks beyond the typical association of functions with word classes (see also Rijkhoff 2009). My proposal is that the majority of these proper names can be analysed as Epithets, a function typically associated with adjectival modifiers such as the red car. A smaller set, proper name modifiers such as a Kerry supporter, are analysed as complements (Payne & Huddleston 2002). I end by discussing the implications of this dual analysis for another open question, whether proper name modifiers are morphosyntactically phrasal modifiers or part of compounds.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-401
JournalEnglish Language and Linguistics
Issue number3
Early online date18 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018

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