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A Bi-Polar Theory of Nominal and Clause Structure and Function

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Document pages: 38 pages

Abstract: It is taken as axiomatic that grammar encodes meaning. Two key dimensions of meaning that get grammatically encoded are referential meaning and relational meaning. The key claim is that, in English, these two dimensions of meaning are typically encoded in distinct grammatical poles—a referential pole and a relational pole—with a specifier functioning as the locus of the referential pole and a head functioning as the locus of the relational pole. Specifiers and heads combine to form referring expressions corresponding to the syntactic notion of a maximal projection. Lexical items and expressions functioning as modifiers are preferentially attracted to one pole or the other. If the head of an expression describes a relation, one or more complements may be associated with the head. The four grammatical functions specifier, head, modifier and complement are generally adequate to represent much of the basic structure and function of nominals and clauses. These terms are borrowed from X-Bar Theory, but they are motivated on semantic grounds having to do with their grammatical function to encode referential and relational meaning.

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