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What Nominal Phrases are all about

The Atypical Case of Indefinite Pronouns with a Determiner

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This paper presents novel data that challenge the traditional categorial understanding of the nominal phrase. The established use of an indefinite pronoun with a determiner in French (ce quelqu'un, du n'importe quoi, un je ne sais quoi) contravenes assumptions both about pronouns, which should not be embedded, and nominal phrases, which should be headed by a noun. Analysed here for the first time, the embedding of a pronoun under a determiner is shown to find its justification in the semantic import of the construction. The anaphoric role guaranteeing referential continuity is promoted by a strong determiner; weak determiners typically contribute to constructing a designative use of the pronoun when a more precise characterisation cannot or will not be provided. How this construction would be analysed in the Minimalist Programme is presented to suggest that the phrase satisfies semantic requirements, which resolves the paradoxes of its traditional definition.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2009

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  • Romanische Forschungen is one of the oldest German academic journals dedicated to the study of the Romance languages, their literatures, and cultures from all periods. Its editors and editorial board emphasize the interrelatedness of linguistics and literary studies and encourage the submission of articles and reviews with a focus on the Romance world as a whole. Romanische Forschungen publishes in all the major Romance languages, German and English.

    Die Romanischen Forschungen sind eine der ältesten deutschen Fachzeitschriften. Ihr Gegenstand sind die romanischen Sprachen, Literaturen und Kulturen von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart. Herausgeber und Beirat pflegen die Verbindung von Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft und bevorzugen Beiträge und Rezensionen mit einer gesamtromanischen Fragestellung. Die Publikationssprachen sind außer allen romanischen Sprachen das Deutsche und Englische.
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