Temporal Adjectives and the Structure of Possessive DPs

Natural Language Semantics 11 (3):217-247 (2003)
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The presence of temporal adjectives in possessive nominals like John's former car creates two interpretations. On one reading, the temporal adjective modifies the common noun (N-modifying reading). On the other, it modifies the possession relation (POSS-modifying reading). An explanation for this behavior is offered that appeals to what occurs in possessive sentences like John has a former car (N-modifying reading) and John formerly had a car (POSS-modifying reading). In the sentential cases, the source of two readings is two distinct, modifiable phrases. Given the parallels, we propose a structure for possessive nominals analogous to that of possessive clauses. Specifically, we argue that such nominals include a locative small-clause structure, following Freeze (1992), and we explain the ambiguity structurally, as a simple matter of where temporal adjectives attach (NP vs. PP). We show that this analysis provides a straightforward basis for the semantic composition of possessive nominals



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Citations of this work

Semantics with Assignment Variables.Alex Silk - 2021 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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Generalized quantifiers and natural language.John Barwise & Robin Cooper - 1981 - Linguistics and Philosophy 4 (2):159--219.
Descriptions.S. Neale - 1996 - Critica 28 (83):97-129.
The English Noun Phrase in its Sentential Aspect.Steven Abney - 1987 - Dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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