Noun Phrase Complexity in English

Noun Phrase Complexity in English

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This book explores noun phrase complexity in English, showing that it is best accounted for both by a linear and a hierarchical parameter: its length and its type of postmodifier(s). The study is methodologically unique in that it combines univariate and multivariate analyses in an investigation of four different syntactic variables. Drawing on more than three billion words of British and American data, Eva Berlage shows that the length and the structure of the NPs, along with language-external factors such as the regional variety of English, work as powerful determinants of the variation. On a theoretical level, the book reveals that the structural complexity of NPs cannot be sufficiently captured by (phrasal) node counts but that we need to incorporate the degree to which NPs are sentential. The book is designed for researchers and students interested in syntax, language variation, sociolinguistics, structural complexity and the history of English.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 78 b/w illus. 64 tables
  • 1139057685
  • 9781139057684

Review quote

'Noun phrase complexity, syntactic weight, and related notions take center stage in the empirical literature on grammatical variation. Berlage's systematic and comprehensive study is required reading for all those who are in the business of measuring and interpreting these things.' Benedikt Szmrecsanyi, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
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Table of contents

1. Introduction; 2. The variationist framework; 3. Methodology I: defining the syntactic complexity of NPs; 4. Methodology II: modes of data presentation, statistical procedures and electronic corpora; 5. Optional verb phrases in topic-restricting as far as constructions; 6. Word order variation involving the collocations take prisoner, hold prisoner and take hostage, hold hostage; 7. Word-order variation involving pre- and postposed notwithstanding; 8. Infinitival variation following help; 9. NP-complexity and change; 10. Conclusion and future directions.
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