Adjectival inflection as diagnostic for structural position: inside and outside the Icelandic definiteness domain
AuthorPfaff, Alexander Peter
This article attempts to account for the distribution of Icelandic adjectival inflection in a manner that also captures a problematic case that has not been satisfactorily analyzed in the literature. It is argued that weak inflection is triggered if the adjective is c-commanded by a feature [definite]. Strong inflection occurs precisely if weak inflection is not triggered. This implementation accounts for the occurrence of strong inflection on predicative adjectives and adnominal adjectives in indefinite noun phrases, but moreover allows us to account for an unexpected pattern in Icelandic where a strongly inflected adjective occurs in a definite noun phrase. It is argued that, in this case, the adjective is not c-commanded by the definite article, but, in fact, merged outside DP. This rather unorthodox assumption motivated on morpho-syntactic grounds makes a number of syntactic and semantic predictions. In particular, adjectives that are merged outside DP are expected to modify not simply an NP (of type
), but actually a referential expression/an individual of type e. The discussion of four instances of that strongly inflected pattern—appositives, expressives, positional predicates and little partitives—provides various kinds of evidence and shows that these expectations are indeed borne out.
This is a pre-print of an article published in Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics. The final authenticated version is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10828-017-9091-3.