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Exocentric Noun Phrases in English

Wu, Zhen; (2021) Exocentric Noun Phrases in English. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The term ‘exocentric noun phrase’ (ENP) refers to a noun phrase without a head noun. The category of ENPs contains a range of nominal constructions including phrasal ones (e.g. the rich, the dead, whose head nouns denoting human references are missing) and clausal ones (e.g. I’ll eat what you give me, in which there seems to be a missing nominal antecedent). Although these constructions have been studied before, there has been very little comprehensive research on ENPs as a category. This thesis has two aims to accomplish: first, it fully examines ENPs with the support of contemporary and historical corpus data; secondly, based on this direct syntactic examination of ENPs, it critically evaluates the possibility of a unified theory. The first aim is addressed in Chapters 3 to 8, in which I conduct systematic reviews of four representative kinds of ENPs in English, i.e. Generic Constructions (ENPs with a pattern of ‘determinative + adjective’ such as the rich or the sublime), referential metonymy (e.g. Shakespeare is on the bookshelf, where Shakespeare refers to his works), compound pronouns (indefinite pronouns with compounding morphology such as someone or anything) and free relatives (relative clauses without explicit antecedents, e.g. She is who I refer to). Syntactic explanations are proposed for each of these ENPs. The second aim is addressed in Chapter 9, based on the proposals of the previous chapters. I argue, contra Huddleston & Pullum et al. (2002) and Payne et al. (2007), that there cannot be a unified solution for all ENPs, including their ‘fusion of functions’ theory (FFT): although ENPs share a superficially similar syntactic structure characterised by the lack of head nouns, the forms of the missing head nouns and the mechanisms underlying the absence of these head nouns vary (historical ellipsis, compounding, conjunction of clauses, etc.). As a result, each kind of ENP needs an individual, more specific account that takes into consideration its own syntactic behaviour and historical development.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Exocentric Noun Phrases in English
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10118908
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