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    • Join Date: Oct 2006
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    #1

    postmodification

    I've been taught there is no rearangement among modifications in phrases because, for instance, a postmodifier if put before what modifies, it is no longer a "post". But take this, we know when adjective phrase has a postmodifer itself and it modifies a noun phrase, it postmodifies the NP. but if the postmodifier of adjective phrase is infinitival clause or comparative construction, we can put the head of Adj in front of the NP.
    - the penalties easiest to take (AdjP is a postmodifier)
    - the easiest penalties to take (??)
    what is the function of "easiest" and "to take"? bearing in mind "to take" must be a postmodifier for "easiest"
    another clear-cut example
    - a bigger bed than mine. "than mine" has to postmodify "bigger"

  1. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #2

    Re: postmodification

    Two different forms at play here: the easiest and easiest

    [1] The easiest penalties to take
    => The easisest premodifies penalties
    => to take postmodifies penalties

    [[the easiest [penalties]] to take]]

    [2] The penalties (that are) the easiest to take
    => the easiest postmodifies penalties
    => to take postmodifies penalties that are the easiest

    [[penalties] that are the easiest] to take]

    [3] The penalties easiest to take
    => easiest to take postmodifies penalties
    => easiest premodifies to take

    [[The penalties] [easiest [to take]] ]

    [4] a bigger bed than mine
    => bigger premodifies bed
    => than mine postmodifies a bigger bed

    [[a bigger bed] than mine]

    [5] a bed bigger than mine
    => than mine post modifies bigger
    => bigger than mine postmodifies a bed

    [[a bed] bigger than mine]

    Hope that helps.


    • Join Date: Oct 2006
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    #3

    Re: postmodification

    thank you for your reply, but i have some comments:
    1. regarding "the easiest & easiest", what is the difference between them since "the" belongs to the N and fixed in pre-position (before N in all cases). plus, "to take" doesn't modify penalties but postmodifies "easiest" [ however, it can be, as you said in [1], an infintival clause as a postmodifier for "penalties" which is premodified by "the easiest". in that sense does it make any difference in meaning? i mean when thinking of "to take" as a part of the adjective "easiest"??
    2. the second example you gave [2], i think it's no related to adjectival postmodification since "that are the easiest to take" is a relative clause and "that are" cannot be omitted. so, we cannot say "the penalties the easiest to take"
    3. in [3], in your analysis, you said that "easiest" premodifies "to take". can a clause be modified? isn't that "easiest" is being postmodified by the infinitival clause "to take"
    4. the same in 1, it's the bigness that is postmodified by "than mine" htough it can be thought as you said in your analysis but again does that make any difference in meaning?

    - can we refer to this modification as being discontinuous? i mean, for example in [5] since your analysis matched mine, can we call bringing "bigger" in front of "bed" as in [4] a "discontinuous postmodification"?
    -

  2. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #4

    Re: postmodification

    Quote Originally Posted by rezaa View Post
    1. regarding "the easiest & easiest", what is the difference between them since "the" belongs to the N and fixed in pre-position (before N in all cases).
    Not necessarily. the easiest could be interpreted as a unit, as a set phrase,

    [1a] the easiest penalties
    [1b] the easiest penalties

    [2a] penalties that are the easiest
    [2b] the penalties that are easiest

    Note, the is a limiting adjective. It contrains the semantic scope of the nominal it modifies. For example,

    Pat: I'm working on the penalties.
    Sam: Which ones?
    Pat: The ones (that are) easiest to take.

    Omit the and the meaning changes from specific to general,

    Pat: I'm working on penalties.
    Sam: All of them?

    As a definer the narrows the scope - which is why it works well with superlatives; e.g., the best.

    Omit the and [1] is rendered semantically awkward,

    [1a] *easiest penalties to take

    the is a premodifier: it tells the reader or listener that the nominal it modifies (a) has already been defined (i.e., previously mentioned); (b) is about to be defined (i.e., the ones 'that are ...') or (c) is defined as (i.e., the best).

    In short, [1a] and [1b] are different,

    [1a] the easiest penalties <superlative>
    [1b] the easiest penalties <definite noun phrase>

    This is how they work:

    Related structures
    Premodification: [1a] the easiest penalties
    Postmodification: [2a] penalties that are the easiest

    Related structures
    Premodification: [1b] the easiest penalties
    Postmodification: [2b] the penalties that are easiest

    In short, example [1] has two meanings. Either easiest is interpreted as a superlative ([1a]) or it's interpreted as an attributive ([1b]). If superlative ([1a]), then it's not a variant of [2b].

    [1a] the easiest penalties <superlative>
    [1b] the easiest penalties <attributive>
    [2b] the penalties easiest <predicative>

    Note that, ellipsis (...) is at play here,

    [2b] the penalties (that are) easiest

    The relative clause (RC) that are easiest postmodifies penalties. It's part of the noun phrase (NP):

    [NP [N penalties] RC that are easiest]

    It's also an examples of pre to post modification.

    Now, let's look at the last part of the problem, [3] below. The problem, is infinitive to take part of the NP ([3a]) or is it part of the RC ([3b])?

    [3a] [NP [penalties [that are easiest]] to take]
    [3b] [NP penalties [RC [that are easiest to take]]

    It's a lot to digest, I know. So, before we continue on to questions 3., 4., and 5., I'd like to hear your thoughts.

    All the best.
    Last edited by Casiopea; 21-Jan-2007 at 05:54.


    • Join Date: Oct 2006
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    #5

    Re: postmodification

    in [2b] is it the only analysis for "easist" to be thought as predicative for an ellipted "that are", if it is postmodified by "to take"
    looking forward to the rest ...

  3. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #6

    Smile Re: postmodification

    Quote Originally Posted by rezaa View Post
    in [2b] is it the only analysis for "easist" to be thought as predicative for an ellipted "that are", if it is postmodified by "to take"
    looking forward to the rest ...
    You described [3b].

    [3b] the penalties [that are [easiest to take]]

    Note that, that are is optional (...).

    Let's look at the semantics, but first I'm going to replace the adjective easiest with the adjective difficult. Watch what happens to the meaning,

    [4a] ?the penalties (that are) difficult
    [4b] the penalties (that are) difficult to take

    The meaning expressed in [4a] is semantically awkward. Penalties are described as being difficult. The meaning expressed in [4b] is semantically sound. Penalties are difficult to take (i.e., difficult to accept). It seems that diffcult to take functions as a unit semantically.

    Here's another one,

    [5a] Pat is hard. <meaning, Pat is dispassionate>
    [5b] Pat is hard to follow. <meaning, Pat is difficult to understand>

    In [5b] (and in [4b]) the adjectives appear to take an infinitive as an object. That is, they appear to be transitive.

    Could [3b], the penalties [that are easiest to take] house such an adjective?
    If so, then easiest modifies the infinitive phrase to take ([6a]), and modifies the noun phrase penalties to take ([6b]).

    [6a] the penalties [easiest to take]
    [6b] the easiest [penalties to take]

    (Cf. the function and distribution of the transtive participle adjective in the eaten apple/ the apple that was eaten)

    Moreover, sans context, try omitting the nouns here and the resulting meaning is incomplete.

    [7] Sam is the biggest. <The biggest what?>
    [8] I have the most. <The most what?>

    However, if housed in context, biggest and most have referents.

    [7] Sam is the biggest (liar I know).
    [8] I have the most (pens).

    In short, superlative adjectives (e.g., the easiest, easiest) seem to be privy to transitivity. The evidence for that, their function (i.e., they co-occur with nouns) and their distribution (i. omit the noun and the meaning changes ([7], [8]); ii. move the adjective and it will always modify the closest noun ([1a], [1b], [2b], [3b]).

    What are your thoughts?


    • Join Date: Oct 2006
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    #7

    Re: postmodification

    here's an extract from the book i'm reading. hope that help clarify what im asking about which i have mentioned in my first post.

    MEGAUPLOAD - The leading online storage and file delivery service

  4. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #8

    Re: postmodification

    That link gives me this message:

    All download slots assigned to your country (China) are currently in use. Please try again in a few hours .


    • Join Date: Oct 2006
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    #9

    Re: postmodification

    well i cannot upload it here since it's more than a megabyte. anyway here what it says: "adjective phrase can be used to postmodifiy noun phrase ... , it can usually be treated as a reduced relative clause .. if the adjective itself is postmodified then it has to be a postmodifer for the NP ... BUT if the Aadjective is postmodified by an infinitival clause then the head adjective can be placed before the head noun" and it says it's still a postmodifer for the NP though it's placed ahead. And if go back to my first post i was asking whether rearrangement among modifications is possible but i were taught the opposite and your answers depends on not allowing this rearrangement. so what im saying if it's allowed is there any other instances where rearrangement is possible. and also when can we thought of this postmodifed adjective phrase as not a reduced RC since the book says "can usually be treated"?

  5. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #10

    Re: postmodification

    Thanks, rezza. Let's take a look.

    Quote Originally Posted by rezaa View Post
    anyway here's what it says: "an adjective phrase can be used to postmodifiy a noun phrase ... , it can usually be treated as a reduced relative clause... "
    For example,

    Relative Clause: the penalties that are easiest to take
    Reduced Relative Clause: the penalties easiest to take

    Quote Originally Posted by rezza
    "...if the adjective is postmodified by an infinitival clause then the head adjective can be placed before the head noun."
    Like this, right?

    the penalties easiest to take => the easiest penalties to take

    Quote Originally Posted by rezza
    "...it's still a postmodifer for the NP though it's placed ahead.
    Right. The adjective moves and leaves behind a trace,

    the easiest penalties trace to take

    On the surface (i.e., what we hear or read) the adjective comes before the noun 'penalties', but at an underlying level, the adjective is actually located before the infinitive 'to take'. The trace allows the adjective to be in two places at the same time. In other words, what we perceive through our senses (sight and sound) and how that data is set up cognitively will differ. For example, writing systems are linear, but Language is definitely non-linear. 'the easiest penalties to take' is an example of that.

    Quote Originally Posted by rezza
    if we go back to my first post I was asking whether on not rearrangement among modifications is possible
    According to the source you have, it is possible.

    Quote Originally Posted by rezza
    but i was taught the opposite
    For example...

    Quote Originally Posted by rezza
    your answers depends on not allowing this rearrangement.
    My suggestions -not answers- show both sides.

    Quote Originally Posted by rezza
    so what I'm saying is, if it's allowed is there any other instances where rearrangement is possible.
    Good question. I haven't looked into which group(s) of adjectives move like that, but if you notice, the examples you gave involve comparatives. Also, transitive adjectives might follow a similar pattern. Interesting topic, rezza. Sounds like a very promising begin for a thesis.

    Quote Originally Posted by rezza
    also when can we think of this postmodifed adjective phrase as not a reduced RC since the book says "can usually be treated"?
    Well, if to be is used as either an auxiliary or as a main verb and the duplicated element is the subject of the clause, the relative clause can be reduced. If there isn't duplication, than the adjective phrase cannot be treated as a reduced relative. That is, the adjective phrase is premodifying, not postmodifying. That's my understanding.

    Does that help?

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