The Syntax of Adjectives
A Comparative Study
A new analysis of adjectives, supported by comparative evidence.
In The Syntax of Adjectives, Guglielmo Cinque offers cross-linguistic evidence that adjectives have two sources. Arguing against the standard view, and reconsidering his own earlier analysis, Cinque proposes that adjectives enter the nominal phase either as “adverbial” modifiers to the noun or as predicates of reduced relative clauses. Some of his evidence comes from a systematic comparison between Romance and Germanic languages. These two language families differ with respect to the canonical position taken by adjectives, which is prenominal in Germanic and both pre- and postnominal in Romance. Cinque shows that a simple N(oun)-raising analysis encounters a number of problems, the primary one of which is its inability to express a fundamental generalization governing the interpretation of pre- and postnominal adjectives in the two language families. Cinque argues that N-raising as such should be abandoned in favor of XP-raising—a conclusion also supported by evidence from other language families. After developing this framework for analyzing the syntax of adjectives, Cinque applies it to the syntax of English and Italian adjectives. An appendix offers a brief discussion of other languages that appear to distinguish overtly between the two sources of adjectives.