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Hardcover | Out of Print | 363 pp. | 6 x 9 in | January 2006 | ISBN: 9780262042314
Paperback | $36.00 Short | £26.95 | 363 pp. | 6 x 9 in | January 2006 | ISBN: 9780262541862
eBook | $25.00 Short | January 2006 | ISBN: 9780262251365

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Relators and Linkers

The Syntax of Predication, Predicate Inversion, and Copulas


In Relators and Linkers, Marcel den Dikken presents a syntax of predication and the inversion of the predicate around its subject, emphasizing meaningless elements (elements with no semantic load) that play an essential role in the establishment and syntactic manipulation of predication relationships. One such element, the RELATOR, mediates the relationship between a predicate and its subject in the base representation of predication structures. A second, the LINKER, connects the predicate to its subject in Predicate Inversion constructions. Den Dikken argues that all subject-predicate relationships are syntactically mediated by a RELATOR and that predication relationships in syntax are configurationally asymmetrical and non-directional. Discussing the inversion of the predicate around its subject and the distribution of LINKER elements surfacing between the inverted predicate and the subject, den Dikken presents an in-depth analysis of Predicate Inversion from the perspective of the minimalist theory of locality.

Among the features by which Relators and Linkers distinguishes itself from past studies of predication is a detailed investigation of predication and Predicate Inversion inside the complex nominal phrase that makes a carefully documented case for the existence of two types of qualitative binominal noun phrases, one exploiting a predicate-specifier structure and the other employing a predicate-complement structure cum Predicate Inversion. Empirical data includes examples not only from English and Dutch but also from Hungarian, Hebrew, French, Italian, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and other languages. Den Dikken's analysis, cast in terms of the theory of generative grammar, fruitfully brings Chomskyan minimalist principles to bear on the discussion of predication and Predicate Inversion.

About the Author

Marcel den Dikken is Professor in the Linguistics Program at the CUNY Graduate Center. He is the author of Particles: On the Syntax of Verb-particle, Triadic, and Causative Constructions and The Structure of the Noun Phrase in Rotuman.


“This is den Dikken in top form. Copula constructions and predicate inversion are among the most central and most vexing problems in grammar. Trust den Dikken to defend a theory that is both original and inspiring, controversial and thoroughly argued, far-reaching and broadly documented. Relators and Linkers is a must.”
Henk van Riemsdijk, Models of Grammar Group, Tilburg University, The Netherlands
“Written by one of the leading experts on predicate inversion, this monograph provides a compelling account of a variety of syntactic constructions involving predication. It includes a comprehensive and insightful historical survey of the previous literature on the syntax of predication and copular constructions, and in this respect it would be appropriate for use as a texbook for a graduate seminar on this topic. The study covers a broad range of constructions to free relatives and qualitative binomial NPs, and its cross-linguistic coverage is impressive. The book is a must-read for all scholars interested in the issue of predication, copular constructions, and the linker particles.”
Tim Stowell, Department of Linguistics, University of California, Los Angeles