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Linguistic Inquiry

Winter 2017, Vol. 48, No. 1, Pages 194-212
(doi: 10.1162/LING_a_00241)
© 2017 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Long-Form and Short-Form Prenominal Adjectives Are Not Reduced Relative Clauses in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian
Article PDF (127.46 KB)
Abstract

Cinque (2010) treats prenominal adjectives in languages like Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (BCS) and English either as APs in the specifiers of functional projections in the extended domain of N (direct modification) or as predicates in reduced relative clauses in the specifiers of functional projections (indirect modification), while postnominal adjectives in these languages are treated only as predicates in reduced relative clauses. In this model, the direct-modification source is associated with one set of interpretations and the indirect-modification source with a different set of interpretations. This proposed dual-source analysis raises the question whether there are any languages that mark this distinction with overt morphology. In this respect, Cinque considers languages, among them BCS, where adnominal modification has two distinct morphological shapes. Crucially, BCS adjectives have different morphological forms depending on their distribution: the “long form” and the “short form.” Cinque treats the two forms as being overt manifestations of the two sources of modification. In particular, he suggests that adnominal short-form adjectives are always reduced relative clauses (indirect modification), while long-form adjectives are ambiguous between the two sources. This proposal captures some distributional and ordering restrictions these two forms of BCS adjectives display.

In this squib, I provide several empirical arguments against the claim that BCS is a language that overtly distinguishes between two sources of modification. By closely inspecting the distribution and interpretations of BCS adjectives, the ordering between the two forms in the prenominal position, and extraction possibilities out of APs, I show that both long- and short-form adjectives represent challenges for Cinque’s model. I argue that treating BCS long adjectives, as well as prenominal short adjectives, as reduced relative clauses is problematic. More generally, my investigation of interpretations that adnominal adjectives in BCS receive, including several parallels between BCS and English, leads to the conclusion that, although there may be two syntactic sources of adnominal adjectives, these different sources are not identified by two distinct sets of interpretations associated with them. I also introduce facts that are problematic for the claim that the indirect-modification source involves reduced relative clauses.

The squib is organized as follows. In section 1, I introduce Cinque’s (2010) dual-modification-source model and its predictions. In section 2, I explore how the predictions of this model fare with respect to BCS adjectives. In sections 2.1 and 2.2, I discuss data regarding BCS long and short adjectives, respectively, that are problematic for the dual-source analysis. Section 3 is the conclusion.