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Research Article

On Noun Clausal ‘Complements’ and their Non-unitary Nature

Guglielmo Cinque    Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Italia     ORCID iD

Iliyana Krapova    Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Italia     ORCID iD



In this article, we discuss the status of clausal ‘complements’ of Ns, which have recently been analysed by various authors as restrictive relative clauses. First we argue that they do not constitute a unitary phenomenon. Two types should be distinguished: clausal “complements” that can be predicated of the noun across a copula (with nouns like ‘claim’, ‘news’, ‘idea’, etc.) and those that cannot (with transitive nouns like ‘proof’ and with ‘unaccusative’ nouns like ‘possibility’). While we argue that both types are not genuine complements of the noun, we address some apparent difficulties for an ordinary restrictive relative clause analysis. Using data from English, Bulgarian and Italian we suggest that noun clausal “complements” of the first type are best analyzed as the predicate of a non-restrictive reduced relative clause, ultimately derived from an inverse (specificational) copular structure where the “complement” clause that expresses the content of the N occupies the subject position and the Noun the predicate position ([[CP That he is a spy] Pred° [DP the claim]]). Concerning noun clausal “complements” of the second type we tentatively assume that they involve the relativization of a propositional variable, as suggested by a number of authors.

Keywords: Noun complements. Reduced relative clauses. Inverse predication. Unaccusative nouns.

Language: it

Submitted: April 12, 2016
Accepted: July 11, 2016

permalink: http://doi.org/10.14277/2499-1562/AnnOc-50-16-4

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License