Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
In This Section


An Interdisciplinary Journal of the Language Sciences

Editor-in-Chief: van der Auwera, Johan

6 Issues per year

IMPACT FACTOR 2016: 0.378
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 0.897

CiteScore 2016: 0.50

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2015: 0.496
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2015: 1.099

See all formats and pricing
In This Section
Volume 43, Issue 3 (May 2005)


“Discontinuous” APs in English

José Luis González Escribano
  • Universidad de Oviedo
Published Online: 2005-07-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling.2005.43.3.563


“Discontinuous” APs are problematic. Under P&P/minimalist assumptions, they cannot be initial structures and must result via MOVE, but MOVE should be motivated, and what the triggering feature might be is unclear, for “AP-splitting” is optional in some cases and impossible in most. This article examines why it occurs in English. Section 1 discusses the facts and what grammarians have said about them. Section 2 reviews current wisdom on adjectival modfication and considers possible approaches to discontinuity via A(P)-raising and extraposition, but shows that neither is wellmotivated nor can explain why “AP-splitting” is not generally available, which suggests still unidentified constraints. Section 3 adopts a theory of modification that bans prenominal right-branching APs, eliminates the extraposition option, and derives genuine cases of AP-splitting through A-raising from postnominal APs. A-raising is assumed to occur to prevent the adjective from inheriting focus narrowly associated with its complement, but is allowed only within unaccusative APs. Most AP “discontinuities,” therefore, cannot involve A-raising, but the theory allows them to be basegenerated when the postnominal PP/CP is a modifier and the adjective is allowed prenominally. Adjectives denoting individual-level properties are, and are predicted to occur in “discontinuous” APs, but those denoting stage-level properties are not. These predictions are confirmed on the whole, but the evidence is murky due to divided usage. Section 4 sorts out dubious cases and claims that they arise from the fuzziness of the complement/modifier and the individual-level/stage-level distinctions, and from alternative construals of the postnominal XP as a modifier of the noun or higher categories. Finally, Section 5 briefly summarizes the results and the advantages of the present approach.

About the article

Correspondence address: Universidad de Oviedo, Facultad de Filologia, Campus de Humanidades, 33011 Oviedo, Spain. E-mail: .

Received: 4 March 2003

Revised: 23 September 2003

Published Online: 2005-07-27

Published in Print: 2005-05-20

Citation Information: Linguistics, ISSN (Online) 1613-396X, ISSN (Print) 0024-3949, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling.2005.43.3.563. Export Citation

Citing Articles

Here you can find all Crossref-listed publications in which this article is cited. If you would like to receive automatic email messages as soon as this article is cited in other publications, simply activate the “Citation Alert” on the top of this page.

José Luis González Escribano
Language Sciences, 2006, Volume 28, Number 6, Page 529
English Language and Linguistics, 2011, Volume 15, Number 02, Page 335

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in