Proper names (PN) like Maria ‘Mary’ refer to individual, unique entities (1a). Apart from a few features (e.g., name for a male vs. female; name for a person vs. place), they have no descriptive meaning; that is, they are opaque labels and refer to the entity directly (Allerton 1987). In contrast, common nouns like Lehrer ‘teacher’ do have descriptive meaning; that is, they denote sets of entities with the relevant properties. Given a certain linguistic and situational context, they allow the hearer to pick out the entity by the descriptive content of the noun (1b)1:
I label the type of PN in (1a) inherent PN and nominals involving common nouns as in (1b) common DPs. Besides those PN, there are other kinds (see section 2 for a taxonomy). One type, the one in focus here, may consist of a head noun like a kinship name (2a). In addition to nouns, other elements, often adjectives, can also occur (2b–c). Like in (1a), these PN refer to individual entities and like in (1b), they have descriptive meaning. I will refer to this type of PN as phrasal PN:2
The basic semantics of these three types of nominals is summarized in Table 1.
|Primary semantics||Inherent PN||Common DPs||Phrasal PN|
|Reference to individuals||+||–||+|
Besides having both semantic traits, we will see that phrasal PN show an intriguing interaction between properties that are lexically frozen and morpho-syntactically regular or frozen. With regard to their linguistic behavior, it will become clear that phrasal PN are situated between inherent PN and common DPs.
Despite their inbetween properties, these constructions have not received due attention thus far: either they are not discussed (e.g., Longobardi 1994; Anderson 2004) or only briefly (e.g., Karnowski & Pafel 2005: 52; Sturm 2005: 72). In this paper, I investigate this underexplored domain in an attempt to make progress in the understanding of these types of nominals. In order to account for their special semantic and morpho-syntactic properties, I propose that the individual parts of the PN are taken from the lexicon, they receive each a referential marker and are collected as a set in the lexicon. During the derivation, these elements are merged in a regular fashion but project their marker onto the entire structure. Given that certain syntactic operations are sensitive to these markers, no such operation can single out an individual element (but only the entire structure). Taken together, this will account for the hybrid semantic and morpho-syntactic characteristics of phrasal PN.
The paper is organized as follows. In section 2, I provide some basic data from German, I briefly survey some previous work on this topic and discuss one proposal in more detail. Section 3 catalogues some diagnostic properties of phrasal PN. In section 4, I offer a new proposal. After the basic assumptions about lexical entries and structures are laid out, I discuss some more complex cases in German that will lead to some refinements of the proposal. Section 5 provides some discussion of avenues for future research. I close the paper in section 6.
There are many interesting phenomena in the study of PN (for the discussion of, for instance, the act of naming, the origin of names, categorization issues, spelling, and other background information, see Allerton 1987; Kolde 1995; Blanár 2001; Anderson 2003; 2007; Debus 2005; van Langendonck 2007; Nübling et al. 2015; Nübling 2017). Semantically, Kripke (1971) observes that PN are rigid designators; that is, they denote the same entity in all possible worlds. While the current paper is not about the referential semantics of PN per se, let us assume that there is a 1:1 relation between syntax and semantics. Thus, if PN are semantically special, one may expect that they are also morpho-syntactically different from common DPs. We will see that this is indeed the case with phrasal PN, even if only in certain aspects.
Focusing on English, Allerton (1987) classifies (complex) PN into four groups: pure PN only involve proper nouns (3a), mixed PN consist of proper nouns and common nouns (3b), common-based PN are made up of multiple common nouns (3c), and coded PN involve initial letters and numbers (3d). These four main types can be illustrated with the following examples (the latter actually instantiate subtypes in his taxonomy):3
The types in (3b) and (3c) involve elements with descriptive content. Thus, I agree with Anderson (2003: 371), Schlücker & Ackermann (2017: 320), and others that names can indeed involve transparent descriptive content. Given their hybrid properties (semantic reference and descriptive content), I focus on common-based and mixed PN. Since both consist of at least two parts, one of them being a common noun, I subsume them under the more general label phrasal PN here. In this paper, these are, when deemed relevant, contrasted with common DPs, with inherent (= pure) PN, and in a few cases with coded PN. This paper does not compare inherent PN to commen nouns/DPs (for interesting discussion of German, see Nübling 2017; Schlücker & Ackermann 2017, and references cited therein).
With this in mind, I provide some basic data from German in the next subsection. The phrasal PN are given as they appear in their original context (more on that in section 3.2.1). In the second subsection, I briefly survey some previous work on this topic and discuss one proposal in more detail.
Besides the typical presence of head nouns, phrasal PN may also involve articles – often called proprial articles – (4a), possessive determiners (4b), and prepositions (4c):
Considering the elements in (4), one may observe that phrasal PN involve both lexical and functional words. Indeed, lexical and functional elements can be combined in a wide range of ways yielding fairly complex strings. A representative sample is given below, where besides prepositions, determiners, and nouns, Saxon Genitives, adjectives, numerals, or particles can be present:
Like common DPs, phrasal PN can involve several adjectives, and these can occur in different orders:
Phrasal PN can be even more complex. They can involve coordinations and embeddings:
In section 3.2.1, I discuss the presence of the articles and other determiner-like elements in (4–5) and their absence in (6–7).4 Finally, it is well known that PN are semantically definite. Intriguingly, they can be syntactically indefinite. Examples can be found in the singular and plural:5
Note that the above examples all consist of multiple individual words. As such, they seem to be phrasal in structure – hence the name for these constructions. They are different from cases like Bahnhofstraße ‘Station Street’, which appear to be compound-like and are briefly discussed in the next subsection.
Before we proceed, I would like to make a comment about spelling (also Nübling et al. 2015: 86ff). In general, only nouns and adjectives based on geographical names are capitalized in German. Note that deutsch ‘German’ and historisch ‘historical’ are not such adjectives. Their capitalization in das Deutsche Historische Museum in (2c) indicates that these elements are part of the PN. In some cases, the entire noun is made up of capital letters (e.g., Der SPIEGEL ‘The Mirror’). In this paper, I follow the capitalization of words as they appear in their original context. Thus, the capitalization of determiner(-like) elements, adjectives, quantifiers and numerals indicate that these elements belong to the proper name. This means that das in (2c) is not part of the PN. Unfortunately, capitalization is not always consistent (see the examples containing kleine in (5b) or voller in (8a)). Particles like als are usually not capitalized, not even in proper names. Thus, spelling can only be used as an indication but not evidence per se of the proper namehood of these elements. Capitalization in the gloss indicates what belongs to the PN. As to the translation, it is not always clear how to render these proper names in English. For the most part, I provide a literal translation. With some minor adjustments, I retain the capitalization of the gloss in the translation line.
Inherent PN have been discussed in much detail (e.g., Longobardi 1994; 2005; Anderson 2004), but phrasal PN much less so. If they are addressed, they are usually only briefly discussed, often just in passing. Detailed discussions are the exception. It is probably fair to state that phrasal PN have not received much attention in the literature. First, I summarize the insights of the works that only briefly address phrasal PN, and then I turn to one analysis that provides more details.
Anderson (2003: 372, 386) states that names tend to be desemanticized. However, although they are listed lexically, complex names like the University of Queensland retain some descriptive content. Anderson (2007: 106) categorizes nouns like University as, in his terms, “classifiers”. Karnowski & Pafel (2005: 52) state that phrasal PN like Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft ‘German Society for Linguistics’ have the same semantic properties as inherent PN (for these authors, PN are predicates). Following work by Kripke, Sturm (2005: 72) classifies cases like the Holy Roman Empire as a borderline case in that syntactically they belong to the class of definite expressions, but semantically they belong to the class of rigid designators. Finally, Weber (2004: 286–287) observes that new (i.e., phrasal) PN conform to regular morpho-syntactic patterns of DPs.
Formal, structural proposals are very rare. If they are provided, they usually do not involve many details. As one of the early works, Allerton (1987) provides a number of morpho-syntactic arguments showing that phrasal PN are special (for detailed discussion, see section 3.3). He proposes that (phrasal) PN are “much more like … lexical unit[s], and the semantic status of [their] parts [are] more akin to that of the morphemes in a compound word.” (page 64) Importantly, the morphological derivation of compounding is not further elaborated on. Note that the author seems to realize though that this type of compounding is not of the regular kind using hedges like “more akin to” in his discussion.
A notable exception to the shortcomings pointed out above is Köhnlein (2015). This author provides a detailed proposal of place names in Dutch. He argues that names like Amsterdam are morphologically and semantically complex: Amster-dam. While Köhnlein takes the different accent patterns of these PN as his point of departure (for German, see Nübling et al. 2015: 67), he also provides many syntactic and semantic details in his discussion. Focusing on the syntax and semantics here, Köhnlein observes that the individual parts of these PN do not occur as independent words and that the meaning of the parts differs from their etymological origin. He proposes that the first element (Amster-) has no meaning at all but provides a referential pointer to a unique place; the second element (-dam) indicates that the name is a settlement (distinguishing this name for people’s last names). This yields the following general bipartide representation of the cases discussed in Köhnlein:
|(9)||[[referential morpheme]-[place name classifier]]|
The different status of these two parts from their etymological origin is also reflected by their differing morphological gender (place names are all neuter in Dutch). Crucially, following Bermúdez-Otero (2012), elements of the type in (9) are claimed not to be computed online but to be stored in the lexicon as complex units, that is, as analytical listings. The proposal is that the grammar still has access to the individual parts of this complex unit.
There are three components to the lexical entries in (9): a semantic, a syntactic, and a phonological one, all corresponding to the different modules of grammar: semantics, syntax, and phonology. Leaving the latter aside, let us illustrate this with the place name Amsterdam in more detail. Köhnlein parses this name as in (10a) providing the semantics in (10b) and the syntax in (10b’). Semantically, Amster- provides the referential pointer and the classifier -dam indicates that this name refers to a settlement (10b). As to the (morpho-)syntax (10b’), name morphemes are taken to have the syntactic feature [+proper], which distinguishes them from common nouns. Specifically, Amsterdam is a complex word that consists of two proper name stems combining into a proper name compound noun. Coindexation associates the different components of the representation across the various modules (syntax, semantics). The double arrow indicates that the different modules interact with one another (i.e., the syntax interacts with the semantics):6
Note that both parts of the word Amsterdam are heavily underspecified in their semantics, and this is taken to explain why these elements cannot occur as independent words. In sum, we can observe that unlike previous work, Köhnlein (2015) provides a very detailed structural analysis of PN, specifically of place names in Dutch.
Let me point out already here that the data examined in Köhnlein (2015) are different from the cases under discussion. In the current paper, the individual parts of phrasal PN typically have transparent meanings, and they can occur independently as regular words. Thus, while the above proposal explains complex place names in Dutch, it does not transfer straightforwardly to phrasal PN in German. As should be clear, Köhnlein’s proposal does not involve a plain-vanilla type of derivation for compounds. Before I proceed, let me illustrate this with data from German. The differences between the above compound-type PN, which have exceptional features, and the regular compounds and phrasal PN discussed below, which have many regular features, call for a novel (but closely related) proposal.
Nübling et al. (2015) provide observations that compound-type PN are not regular compounds. As in Dutch, regular compounds show the expected gender, but their place name counterparts are of neuter gender (see Nübling et al. 2015: 75):
The right-hand head rule explains the gender of regular compounds. As to phrasal PN, there are different possible solutions: either -stadt is a toponymic classifier of neuter gender (cf. Köhnlein’s 2015: 197 discussion of dam vs. -dam), or the right-head head rule is not at work here anymore. Rather, as Fahlbusch & Nübling (2014: 246) argue, certain classes of objects develop their own referential gender.
Second, compounds often involve a linking element. Nübling et al. (2015: 53) observe that the common noun Bahnhof ‘(train) station’ is always followed by the linking element -s- if it is the first part of a compound (12a). This is different if this element is part of a PN (12b) (see also Hochzeit ‘wedding’ in this regard):
Third, a reviewer points out that ordinary compounds and compound PN in the masculine (and neuter) show some interesting differences as regards case inflection. In a corpus study, Fritzinger (2018) discovered that there is a categorial difference in that the former must take a genitive inflection (13a) but the latter may not (13b) (-Ø marks the lack of an inflection). Second, there is also a difference in the preference of these endings such that regular compounds prefer the long genitive ending -es but that the compound PN have a slight preference for the short ending -s. The relative preferences of these inflections are provided in the example line in descending order going from left to right:
Finally, regular compounds allow ellipsis in coordinations where the second element of the first compound is elided (14a). As discussed in Nübling (2018: 16), this is not possible with PN (14b):
Taken together, this shows that compound-type PN are different from regular compounds. As such, compound-type PN have a special status.
To sum up, while Köhnlein (2015) makes a plausible, detailed proposal for complex proper names in Dutch, it seems clear that the proposed type of compounding is not of the regular kind when compared to ordinary compounds. As will become clear in the next section, the phrasal PN under discussion here also show many regular morpho-syntactic features. Most importantly, the individual parts can occur as independent words and (typically) have regular lexical meanings. In addition, unlike Köhnlein’s compound cases, they seem to be phrasal in nature. Nevertheless, although Köhnlein’s (2015) account does not extend to the current cases, I will make use of many insights of that analysis providing a new but closely related proposal in section 4.1.
In this section, I discuss some diagnostics that are meant to bring out the main morpho-syntactic properties of the phrasal PN under discussion here. The important point to remember is that these nominals look like regular DPs on the surface but do not undergo certain syntactic operations. I exclude from the discussion cases that only involve a head noun, for instance, kinship names of the type Vati ‘Daddy’. As sole words, they do not lend themselves to many of the syntactic tests.
While this paper is mostly about the morpho-syntax of phrasal PN, let us start with the stress pattern. Comparing the common DP in (15a) to the phrasal PN in (15b), we can point out that there is no difference in the stress pattern:
Similarly, phrasal PN exhibit strings like common DPs. In fact, if we take the interplay of articles, adjectives, and nouns as an example, we can point out that just like common DPs, we only find instances patterning like (16a), where a determiner precedes an adjective and an adjective precedes a noun. There are no cases of (16b–f), where these elements are in an order different from (16a):
The same holds for other elements: only strings similar to common DPs are possible with phrasal PN.
Like common DPs, phrasal PN are integrated in their syntactic context with regard to case. In other words, PN can change their morphological forms. This goes for the change of the article as well as for case suffixes added to the noun. Compare the common DPs in (17) to the phrasal PN in (18). As a rewiewer notes, the genitive inflection can also be left out in (18b) (see also Nübling 2012):7
Furthermore, phrasal PN behave like common DPs as regards adjective endings as well. To begin, consider the following common DPs (19). As is well known for German, if a definite article is present, a following adjective has a weak ending; if it is absent, the adjective has a strong ending (for background, see, among many others, Harbert 2007: 134–35 and references cited therein):
Again, like common DPs, adjectives in phrasal PN have a weak ending if the definite determiner precedes them (20a). We briefly mentioned above that phrasal PN can occur without an article. If the article is absent, adjectives have a strong ending (20b):
Thus, phrasal PN behave morphologically like common DPs as well. In fact, it is clear that these aspects of PN are not lexical but are computed during the derivation depending on the syntactic context (i.e., the presence of case assigners and determiners). Similar to the syntactic restrictions on word order above, there are certain cases that are never found, neither with common DPs nor phrasal PN. Schematically illustrating, there are no instances in German where an adjective with a strong ending is preceded by a definite article (21a), or where an adjective with a weak ending is not preceded by a definite article (21b).8 In addition, German does not exhibit instances (in the nominative masculine/neuter and the accusative neuter) where an adjective with a weak ending is preceded by an indefinite article (21c):
|(21)||a.||*[ Def.Art [ Adj-ST [ N ]]]|
|b.||*[ Adj-WK [ N ]]|
|c.||*[ Indef.Art [ Adj-WK [ N ]]]|
To take stock thus far, examining (15) though (21), we notice that there are no unexpected patterns in phrasal PN in German, syntactically or morphologically (or phonologically). We can side then with Payne & Huddelston (2002: 517), Weber (2004), and many others that all of these PN involve regular DP patterns. This is a strong indication that the phrasal PN discussed here are different from the compound-type PN in section 2.2. If proper names have surface forms similar to common DPs, we are in need of some morpho-syntactic diagnostics to establish their special status as PN. These diagnostics are meant to stand independently of the semantic property of PN being rigid designators. Note that both of these properties, special morpho-syntax and unique reference, along with the way these PN are used in context help language users recognize these strings as PN. First, I discuss the interaction between phrasal PN and determiners, and then I turn to the frozen aspects of phrasal PN.
Above, we have seen examples of phrasal PN where articles and determiner-like elements are absent and some where they are present. In the next subsections, I discuss when the article can or must be left out and when it must be present. Finally, I discuss possessives showing that they cannot be left out or substituted and that they cannot enter into Binding relations.
Let us start with the context in which phrasal PN often appear in public, that is, on company logos, name signs, etc. It is perhaps not surprising that there are phrasal PN based on mass nouns that occur without an article (22a) and that there are phrasal PN containing singular count nouns that have an article (22b). It is interesting to note though that some PN derived from mass nouns may exhibit an article (22c) and that some PN derived from singular count nouns do not show an article even in the presence of an adjective (22d):9
Note that the PN are not used here as part of a sentence; that is, they occur in non-argument position. Let us call this type of environment original context. Looking at (22), one might conclude that there are two types of PN: some occur with an article and some without.10 At first glance, this seems to be confirmed by a diagnostic, mentioned in passing by Kolde (1995: 404), according to which the element elicitd by a question containing the verb heißen ‘to be called’ indicates the actual PN:
Judgements are suble though in that there does not seem to be a robust difference between the cases with or without the article.11
As far as I have been able to establish, the presence or absence of the article in the original context seems to be somewhat random: it seems to depend on the name giver’s specific choice. Intriguingly, the article can be left out in cases like (22c), and it can be added in instances like (22d). This can be seen in other non-argumental contexts like subtitles in reference works or other types of listings (also Kolde 1995: 404; Nübling et al. 2015: 81; note that I do not consider news headlines here). Here, an article can be optionally deleted if present in the original context (24a), or it can be optionally added if absent in the original context (24b). Again, as far as can be established, this seems to depend, to a large degree, on the preference of the author of the subtitle or listing:12
More generally, the proprial article is special in that it appears in the original context of some phrasal PN, but it does not seem to be obligatorily present in other contexts. I claim that it is not part of the phrasal PN (in a sense to be made more precise below).
That the article in front of the PN is not part of the PN itself can be shown in other ways. Starting with inherent PN, it is well known that many northern German dialects allow an inherent PN to occur with or without an article (25a) (for the use of the article with inherent PN, see Nübling et al. 2015: 123ff). Interestingly, Kolde (1995: 406) observes that an expressive demonstrative can also be added to the left (25b). In addition, a stressed emotive adjective can also occur (capital letters indicate a stressed syllable):
Turning to phrasal PN, the definite article in the original context can also be replaced by a demonstrative (26a), or if the definite article is not present in the original context, a demonstrative can be added (26b). An emotive adjective is possible in both cases:
Given the right context, a definite article can also be replaced by a Saxon Genitive (note that Bertelsmann is the name of a publishing company):
Again, this shows that the proprial article is not part of the phrasal PN itself. Possessive determiners like emotive mein ‘my’ are discussed in section 4.3.
To complete the picture, note that one cannot add a non-restrictive adjective and another article in front of a PN that itself has an article, be it in the original context (28a) or not (28b):
It is possible though to add a regular DP in front such that the PN becomes an appositive. In this case, the article of the PN is optional, showing again it is not part of the PN:
Let us sum up thus far. Articles of PN can be omitted in non-argument position, and they can be substituted by demonstratives and possessives. The omission or substitution of the definite article shows that the latter is not part of the phrasal PN.
There are two contexts where an article cannot be present with phrasal PN. This holds for all PN, independent of the presence of the article in the original context. First, the article must be absent when the PN is part of a compound-like element (Payne & Huddleston 2002: 517; Schlücker 2018). This is shown for inherent PN in (30b) and for phrasal PN in (31). Note that the second part of the compound is preceded by its own regular article. Furthermore, the presence of an adjective that separates the two articles does not make the presence of the proprial article more felicitous:
Second, in vocatives, articles cannot be present either. Again, this applies to both inherent and phrasal PN:
There are two contexts then, where a proprial article is not possible, again indicating that the latter is not part of the PN.
This discussion has a semantic implication for the proprial article. PN with or without an article disambiguously refer to the relevant entity or set of entities. Given that the article can or must be absent under certain syntactic conditions, its presence cannot be due to lexical conditions or referentiality. I suggested that the article is not part of the PN. Conversely, the absence of the definite article makes it clear that the definiteness or referentiality of these PN does not come from the (definite) article itself. That these semantic traits are not due to the definite article is confirmed by the syntactically indefinite PN mentioned in section 2.1. Longobardi (1994) proposes for inherent PN that proprial articles like Italian il ‘the’ in il Gianni ‘Gianni’ are expletive elements, that is, elements void of semantics. I extend his claim to phrasal PN in German.
In this subsection, I illustrate the interaction between the determiner and the PN when the latter is in argument position. Let us set the stage by briefly discussing common DPs and inherent PN. Common count nouns in the singular must occur with an overt article in argument position, for instance, when they function as objects. This is different with mass nouns where the presence of a definite determiner leads to definiteness, and its absence results in indefiniteness:
Turning to plural, common count nouns exhibit a difference in meaning: if a definite determiner is present, the DP is interpreted as definite; if a determiner is absent, its interpretation is indefinite:
Thus, common noun phrases involving mass or plural nouns pattern similarly (something that is well known and will not be further commented on here; see Longobardi 1994 among many others).
As noted above, PN often appear in non-argument positions. In listings, for instance, inherent PN like Ukraine can occur with or without an article (36a). In argument position, a determiner must be present (36b):13
As with singular inherent PN, plural inherent PN require an article when in argument position:
Note that semantically, this type of PN refers to a unique collection or group of entities (Nübling et al. 2015: 58f). These instances are often called pluralia tantum.
In section 3.2.1, we discussed cases of phrasal PN occurring in non-argument position where the article could or had to be left out. Now, when a phrasal PN functions as an argument in a sentence, a determiner is required (38a) (also van Langendonck 2007: 18; Nübling et al. 2015: 58). The same goes for other argument contexts (38b):
Like in the singular, phrasal PN in the plural also have optional determiners in non-argument position (39a). While a determiner can, in principle, be absent in argument position (39b), this surface string does not have the interpretation of a PN (# indicates that the nominal is grammatical but lacks the interpretation of a PN). The presence of a determiner is required for such an interpretation (39c):
The differences in argument position between common DPs, inherent PNs, and phrasal PNs with respect to determiners can be summarized in Table 2. We note that with the exception of certain inherent PN in the singular (see Note 12), PN require an article in argument position (the plus sign indicates the required presence of an overt determiner when the nominal is in argument position, the minus sign means that an article cannot be present, and meaning difference signifies that the presence or absence of the definite article has an interpretatory effect).
|Common DPs||Inherent PN||Phrasal PN|
To summarize, all phrasal PN require an article when they occur in argument position. In contrast, phrasal PN can omit the article in non-argument position. Articles must be left out if the PN is part of a compound-like element or used as a vocative. It is clear then that the phrasal PN under discussion here may or may not involve an article depending on certain syntactic conditions. If this is so, then we can highlight again certain shortcomings of Allerton (1987), who claims that phrasal PN are “word-like” (also section 2.2): phrasal PN have the same accent pattern as their counterpart common DPs, they are subject to the same word order restrictions, they have the same inflectional alternation on their adjectives, and importantly, their article may occur or not depending on the syntactic context. If the proprial article were indeed part of a compound (as one could claim for Der SPIEGEL ‘The Mirror’), we would not expect it to be subject to syntactic conditions that regulate its presence or absence. There is more evidence that these cases do not involve compounds.
It is well known that prenominal possessives cannot involve syntactically complex elements in German (e.g., Krause 1999).14 Compare (40a) to (40b). Morphologically complex elements like compounds are fine (40c):
Above, I argued that phrasal PN are indeed phrasal elements. If so, they should be ungrammatical as prenominal possessives. Recalling that masculine (and neuter) names can omit their genitive inflection, this ungrammaticality is borne out independent of whether a genitive -s or possessive -s is present in a masculine context (41a) or a possessive -s in a FEMinine one (41b) (cf. Maria-Magdalenas Auto ‘Mary-Magdalene’s car):
If phrasal PN were indeed compounds, they should be fine as prenominal possessives, contrary to fact.15
As seen above, phrasal PN can involve possessives (42a). Unlike articles, possessive determiners cannot be left out (42b) or substituted by a definite article or demonstrative without changing its status as a phrasal PN (42c). Interestingly, while perhaps not entirely perfect, the possessive determiner is possible in compound-type constructions (42d):
As regards determiners, there are then three types of phrasal PN. As seen above, definite articles may or may not be part of the original context, and their presence depends on the syntactic environment. In contrast, possessives are always present. This indicates that unlike the article, the possessive is part of the PN. This status has an interesting consequence for Binding.
Postal (1969) argues that words are Anaphoric Islands. To make this claim, he distinguishes two cases: Inbound and Outbound Anaphors (note that Postal defines the term anaphor very broadly). In the first case, the word X contains an anaphor like he, but the anaphor cannot be bound by its antecedent. This constellation is schematically provided in (43). One of Postal’s examples is given in (43a). A similar case can be made for phrasal PN with possessives. Importantly, dein ‘your’ cannot do double duty as a possessive and as being part of a PN at the same time (43b):
As for Outbound Anaphors, here the word X contains the antecedent of an anaphor. This constellation is illustrated in (44) and exemplified by one of Postal’s examples in (44a). Again, this interpretative relation is not possible for phrasal PN either where a pronoun cannot refer back to a name that is part of a phrasal PN (44b):
To conclude, it is clear that unlike articles, possessives cannot be left out or substituted without changing the status of the PN – these elements are part of phrasal PN. Binding relations cannot be established with possessive elements that are part of PN. In the next section, I turn to the frozen aspects of the cases under discussion.
In this subsection, we will see that phrasal PN are lexically and syntactically frozen; that is, certain aspects of their forms cannot be manipulated. Allerton (1987: 64–69) observes for English that PN are fixed with regard to morphological number, they tolerate the addition of non-restrictive (non-stressed) modifiers, but they disallow restrictive modifiers, degree words, determiners, or quantifiers. Furthermore, he states that none of the elements of a PN can be substituted by a different element. I illustrate these properties for German and add some more to the discussion.
First, singular phrasal PN cannot be pluralized comparing the (a)-examples below, and plural PN cannot be singularized contrasting the (b)-examples:
Second, restrictive modifiers and certain other elements cannot be added to PN. If they are, their presence changes the status of a phrasal PN to a common DP (van Langendonck 2007: 173 calls this “appellativization”). The most widely discussed element in this regard is a restrictive adjective (for inherent PN in this respect, see Longobardi 1994: 649, Note 43; Sturm 2005: 74). Specifically, when the adjective groß ‘big’ is added to a phrasal PN in (47a), the resulting string is no longer a PN (47b):
Note that groß is possible as a non-restrictive adjective with the meaning ‘great’ (see also below).
Numerals cannot be added either (also Gallmann 1990: 150):
The same holds for degree words:
To take stock, we can state that phrasal PN are lexically frozen – no restrictive modifier of any kind can be added.16 This point can also be made in another way. The addition of an adjective may lead not only to the interpretation of a common DP, as seen above, but even to the creation of a new phrasal PN. The (a)-example below shows the German name for the Roman Empire. Adding Heilige ‘holy’, the (b)-example refers to the German Empire in the Middle Ages:
Conversely, leaving out Heilige in (50b) changes the reference of the PN back to (50a).
Parts of phrasal PN cannot be substituted by other elements. This can be seen in interrogation where the possessive of a PN is replaced by the question word wessen ‘whose’. Unlike (51a), (51b) is no longer a phrasal PN. Furthermore, the echo-question in (51b) attempts to elicit the answer below it. As a short answer, the name Conny can only be the possessor of an actual container (but it cannot be part of this particular company’s name):
Non-restrictive modifiers are different. A non-restrictive adjective can be added between the article and the noun:17
Relative clauses can be added to the right of PN. However, as pointed out by Nübling et al. (2015: 17), such clauses necessarily receive a non-restrictive interpretation:
The same holds for phrasal PN:
There is then a difference between restrictive and non-restrictive modifiers in that the former cannot be added but the latter can. Presumably, non-restrictive adjectives and relative clauses are not part of PN per se. In other words, we can make a distrinction between the core of the PN and the periphery of these nominals – additions can only be made to the periphery, that is, outside of the core. This will be discussed in more detail in section 4.3.
Phrasal PN are also syntactically opaque. They cannot undergo reordering and subextraction. With simple phrasal PN, ellipsis is only possible with regard to the head noun but not higher elements of the nominal structure. I briefly illustrate each of these properties.
First, adjectives in common DPs can be reordered when focused (Abney 1987: 293; Aboh et al. 2010: 799). Compare (55a) to (55b), where the context of the second example involves the presence of two big balloons, one of which is red:
|a.||the big red balloon|
|b.||the RED big balloon|
As to phrasal PN, we have seen in (6a–b) that adjectives can have various orders in two different PN. With that in mind, there are two museums involving the word deutsch ‘German’ and another adjective, one in Jena (56a) and one in Berlin (56b). However, a reordering due to focus as in (55b) above is not possible with phrasal PN (56c):
One may object that reordering due to focus is out for an independent reason. In other words, the reordering would not be motivated by focus explaining the status of (56c). However, adjectives in PN can be focused when there are two such entities, for instance, in coordination. Specifically, the city of Berlin has two cathedrals on Gendarmenmarkt (57a). Adding non-restrictive adjectives, the adjectives belonging to the PN can be focused (57b):
If this is so, then the impossibility of the reordering of adjectives in (56c) above cannot be blamed on the inability of phrasal PN to contain focused elements. I conclude that elements of phrasal PN cannot undergo reordering.
Second, parts of phrasal PN cannot undergo subextraction. Since DPs in Germanic are subject to the ban on Left-Branch Extraction (Bošković 2005), there are only limited options to test this. With specifiers out, the extraction of complements is testable. While extraction out of common DPs is possible (58b), phrasal PN do not tolerate such an operation (59b). The example in (59c) is fine when die Vereinigen Staaten ‘the United States’ is interpreted as partitive as regards the continent of America, that is, when von Amerika ‘of America’ is not part of the name itself. This becomes very clear with PN like Kanada ‘Canada’:18
Finally, with simple phrasal PN, ellipsis only seems to be possible with head nouns.19 Starting with common DPs as in (60a), both an adjective and noun (60b), or only a noun (60c) can be elided:
Again, this is different for phrasal PN. Unlike above, here an adjective and noun cannot be elided. In other words, the answer in (61b) cannot mean (61a). Interestingly, the head noun by itself can undergo elision (61c):
Noun ellipsis is possible in other contexts. While coordination involving ellipsis is not possible with compound PN, consider the following examples involving the coordination of two phrasal PN (62a–b). Note that it is even possible to leave out the first noun and the second article (62c):
Furthermore, nouns can also remain unpronounced with discontinuous DPs. To begin, most examples provided in the literature involve indefinite examples in the plural. However, as pointed out by Bhatt (1990: 249f) and Fanselow & Ćavar (2002), definite examples in the singular are possible for some speakers (indicated by the percentage sign). Thus, the DP in (63a) can be split in at least two ways. The noun is missing in the lower part of the DP in (63b), and the adjective and noun are missing in that part in (63c). Note that (63c) is a bit more marked than (63b):
Like above, discontinuous phrasal PN tolerate the absence of the noun (64a) but not that of both the adjective and noun (64b):
That head nouns can remain unpronounced may have to do with the fact that they are, perhaps, most easily recoverable.
To sum up this section, I have shown that the definite article with phrasal PN is present or absent depending on certain syntactic conditions. This seems to be independent of whether or not the definite article appears in the original context. Possessives are obligatory. I have also illustrated that phrasal PN show regular morpho-syntactic patterns but are lexically frozen and in certain aspects also syntactically frozen. Overall, they seem to behave like phrasal elements not lending themselves to Köhnlein’s (2015) analysis. In the next section, I provide a different (but closely related) account making use of many of Köhnlein’s insights.
First, I lay out my proposal for the formation of lexical entries. In the second subsection, I discuss the syntax of the simple instances of phrasal PN. Finally, I turn to more complex cases that include demonstratives and non-restrictive modifiers refining the proposal.
Ordinary name giving, sometimes called nomination (Anderson 2003: 354), provides an individual with a unique label, often restricted to a certain social context (cf. given names vs. nicknames). With inherent PN, the name is typically drawn from a common, existing stock (e.g., Anderson 2004: 442). Phrasal PN differ in that they usually involve new names. Thus, while the basic function of naming is the same, the mechanism for phrasal PN must be different: a name is created. Note that all PN must have or receive designations that mark them as PN. This can be seen with common nouns, which are not referential, inherent PN, which are, and some nouns that can function as either. For now, this marking is indicated below as [PN]:20
The new proposal can be briefly summarized as follows. The individual elements of phrasal PN are taken from the common stock of (typically) regular lexical and functional words, they receive each a referential marker, and they are stored as a set in the lexicon. During the derivation, the individual parts are combined into strings similar to common DPs. Recall that some elements of the PN do not undergo certain syntactic operations. Rather than exempting those elements, I propose that given the presence of markers, all elements of the PN participate in these syntactic operations equally. The net effect is that no individual element can be singled out and that the entire nominal is frozen to certain operations.
In more detail, I propose that the type of naming of phrasal PN involves one linguistic operation. Following Nübling et al. (2015: 16f), I will call this proprialization. Although this is usually conceived of as a diachronic process, here I will focus on cases where a new phrasal name is created (almost) instantaneously, perhaps during an official name-giving act (for some tentative remarks about cases involving a longer-lasting process, see section 5). Specifically, this operation is basically a memorization procedure that marks a set of lexical and functional items as being (part of) a proper name. More formally, there are three parts to this procedure.
First, this operation picks out regular lexical and functional vocabulary items from the lexicon. Second, elements receive – what I have called thus far – a referential marker. Recall though that Köhnlein (2015) argues for a clear bipartide structure of place names in Dutch. Semantically, there is a division of labor between the first part (the referential morpheme with the referential pointer) and the second part (the classifier with the category label [+settlement]). Syntactically, all elements have the feature [+proper]. The structure of the cases under discussion here is different.
There can be one to three or more individual parts. As far as I can tell, all elements contribute to the semantics equally. However, what all phrasal PN discussed here have in common is a head noun. So, in order to avoid redundancy and employing Köhnlein’s general system, I assume that the head noun of the phrasal PN has a referential pointer (i.e., an index) and a category label. This means that the pointer and category label coincide on the same element.21 Furthermore, I propose that with the exception of the definite proprial article, all vocabulary items are assigned the feature [+proper]. As the third part, proprialization collects these marked elements in a set as part of the lexicon. I turn to the lexical entries.
As discussed above, there are three basic cases of phrasal PN: instances involving possessives, cases where the definite proprial article is present in the original context, and instances without such an article. Recall that there are no robust differences between the last two cases in German. I argued above that definite articles are not part of the PN. I propose then that possessive elements are part of the lexical entry of phrasal PN and receive the relevant markings (66a). As to the other two cases, if the article is in the original context, it is part of the stored set, but it does not receive a marking (66b). Phrasal PN without an article in the original context do not have an article in the stored set (66c). The markings are indicated as follows. Leaving out the category label for now, the referential pointer is marked by ↑ and the feature [+proper] by [+p]. Stored sets are indicated by curly brackets, and embeddings are marked by round brackets:
The different assumptions about the proprial determiner are meant to capture the following facts. Since the possessive determiner has the feature [+proper] (66a), it is obligatorily present and cannot be substituted. As to (66b), where the article is present without a feature, it does not belong to the referential part of the PN and can be left out or substituted under certain circumstances. Finally, (66c) does not have an article in the stored set. However, if an article is added for a syntactic reason (i.e., the PN is in argument position), then the presence of the feature [+proper] on the other elements will guarantee that that article must be a definite one.
Above, we also illustrated the possible presence of demonstratives and non-restrictive modifiers. Now, let us assume that the elements with the feature [+proper] are part of the core of the phrasal PN. Other elements belong to the syntactic periphery, and they may be part of the lexically stored set (der in (66b)) or not (demonstratives, non-restrictive modifiers). I discuss the latter elements in more detail in section 4.3.
Leaving the phonology aside again, the lexical entries above can be fleshed out employing Köhnlein’s (2015) system with a few modifications. Like Köhnlein (2015), the lexical entries involve different components. Unlike his proposal, the entries are complex in that they may involve multiple, individual vocabulary items. As an example, consider (66a) from above, where (67a) involves the noun Telefonladen, (67b) consists of the possessive determiner dein, and (67c) is the number feature [-PL]. Recalling that head nouns may be monomorphemic, I assume that the referential pointer and the category label relate to the same element. This is indicated by subscripts in (67a) below. To be clear, the vocabulary entry stored in the lexicon consists of a list of unordered, multi-component vocabulary items involving semantics and syntax (and phonology):
As discussed above, inflectional endings vary with syntactic context. In other words, these elements are not part of the lexical entries but are determined during the regular morpho-syntactic derivation.
The lexical entry for Der SPIEGEL ‘The Mirror’ looks similar to (67), with the exception that the feature [+proper] is missing on the determiner. Furthermore, as this is an expletive element, the determiner has no semantics. The entry for Institut für Deutsche Sprache ‘Institute for the German Language’ is more complex in that it contains an embedding, that is, two nominals, one of them preceded by a preposition. The embedding could be indicated by round brackets, as in the short-hand formulation in (66c) above, or by a different superscript on the elements of the embedding. This will guarantee that the elements belonging to the same nominal are merged together.
Making some adjustments, it seems possible to apply Köhnlein’s (2015) system to a new empirical domain. In my view, this provides confirmation that this system is on the right track. Interestingly, there is an intriguing difference. Köhnlein’s cases involve compound PN with special properties that require some aspects of the structure to be part of the lexical entry. Note again that the structure is specific to the individual lexical items. However, the stored structure is at the word level, that is, minimal in size. The cases discussed here involve sets of several individual lexical items yielding a complex entry. The structure is not part of the lexical entry but derives from the general syntactic derivation as discussed momentarily. While this may seem like a trade-off, it is possible that both empirical domains (and analyses) may share some points of contact (see section 5 for some avenues for future research in this regard).
During the derivation, the indexed items are taken out of the set in the lexicon and are merged in a regular fashion (in fact, one may speculate that the stored set is taken out of the lexicon as a whole and functions as part of the Numeration in the sense of Chomsky 1995 and much subsequent work). As in common DPs, nouns project NPs, number specification projects a NumP, adjectives are in Spec,AgrP, and determiners reside in the DP (for detailed background discussion, see Julien 2005, Alexiadou et al. 2007, and many others). Furthermore, I assume that the syntactic feature [+proper] projects from the head to its corresponding phrase (68a) and that phrasal elements like adjectives transfer their feature by Spec-head agreement and subsequent projection of the feature to the hosting phrase (68b):
The result is that all parts of the syntactic tree receive the feature [+proper]. An exception to this is the DP-level when the determiner does not have the feature as in (66b).
With that in mind, I derive the example in (66a) in the familiar way yielding the following simplified structure:
The example in (66b) is similar to (69) but without the feature [+proper] in the DP-level. Turning to the more complex case in (66c) and proceeding bottom-up in (70), the innermost subset indicated by round brackets in (66c) is built first until all these elements are merged. This is followed by the remaining elements thereby embedding the first nominal under the head noun Institut ‘institute’. This yields the following structure:
In certain aspects, phrasal PN are regular definite expressions. This was illustrated above in that they require an overt article when in argument position. In that case, a DP-level is projected in (70). Again, the feature [+proper] ensures that only a definite article will surface. Furthermore, I showed that the definite article can and sometimes must be left out. Nevertheless, the phrasal PN remains referential. If we assume that the DP-level is also absent in those cases, then we can suggest that the DP-level is not related to the referentiality of phrasal PN. The referential pointer brings about referentiality.
Consider how the above-mentioned properties of phrasal PN are accounted for. Proprialization creates a fixed set of vocabulary items yielding complex lexical entries. This accounts for the facts that phrasal PN are lexically frozen (no element can be added, removed, or changed inside the stored set),22 it explains the hybrid character as regards phrasal PN being rigid designators with descriptive content (regular vocabulary items get the feature [+proper] and nouns also a referential pointer), and it allows formally indefinite nominals to receive a definite interpretation (phrasal PN are referential and thus definite). Furthermore, note that once the elements are part of the stored set, (almost) all elements are marked by the feature [+proper]. This makes them diacritically different from their ordinary counterparts. Given this marking, they can now undergo long-term changes, semantically and in other ways (Nübling et al. 2015: 50ff).
It is evident that linguistic operations involving phrasal PN are sensitive to certain conditions. As seen above, ellipsis of the head noun is possible when two phrasal PN are coordinated. A reviewer points out that such coordinations involving a phrasal PN and a common DP yield marked results (the first case seems to be a bit worse than the second; the data are due to the reviewer):
Recalling that the head nouns of phrasal PN have the feature [+proper], the above effect follows if we assume that ellipsis must involve identical elements. This provides evidence that linguistic operations are sensitive to the feature [+proper].
As for the syntactic properties of PN, it has been well known since Longobardi (1994) that (inherent) PN are syntactically special. Unlike common nouns, PN may undergo movement to a higher position in Italian. Compare (72b) to (73b). Longobardi argues that PN move to D in cases like (73b):23
Having argued above that proper names, inherent and phrasal, have the feature [+proper], it is clear that syntactic operations involving movement are also sensitive to this feature.
Now, note again that all elements in (70) have the feature [+proper]. Metaphorically speaking, one might say that all elements are concatenated by this feature. I propose that the presence of these features makes all these elements essentially identical as regards certain operations; that is, operations involving movement apply to all elements equally such that no subpart can be singled out. This explains why elements inside these DPs cannot be reordered and that these PN are islands for subextraction. The presence of this feature also restricts the behavior of possessive determiners.24 This includes the fact that these possessives cannot establish Binding relations. In other words, certain syntactic operations are severly constrained. However, considering (70), we can observe again that phrasal PN wind up with a regular DP structure yielding ordinary word order patterns. Furthermore, this type of regular derivation immediately accounts for the transparency of phrasal PN to syntactic operations like agreement in gender, number, and case. It is also consistent with the fact that phrasal PN have the same inflectional alternation on adjectives as common DPs.
In section 3.3.1, we have seen that phrasal PN have a core that is lexically frozen with regard to the presence of its elements – no restrictive modifier can be added, and no element can be substituted or removed. The core excludes the (expletive) definite article, which can be left out or substituted by a demonstrative. This holds whether or not the article is part of the original context (i.e., in the lexically stored set). I also illustrated there that non-restricted adjectives and relative clauses can be added to the left and right peripheries of PN.
It is worth pointing out that other elements can be added as well, namely inherent and phrasal PN tolerate the occurence of unstressed, non-restrictive possessives in the left periphery:
Often used in exclamations, these possessives establish a close emotional relation to the name and its bearer.
For expository purposes, we can parse the aforementioned complex nominal strings into the core and the pheriphery yielding two domains. Focusing on the left pheriphery, (76a) contains a definite article and a non-restrictive adjective and (76b) a demonstrative or possessive. This yields the delineation in (76c):
While not part of the referential domain of the PN, it is clear that the elements in the left periphery belong to the same nominal structure as the core. This can be deduced from the fact that all adjectives, non-restrictive and those part of the core, must have a weak ending if a relevant determiner precedes them:
Overall, this indicates that these phrasal PN have a regular syntactic structure in German, even in the transition from one domain to another (see Roehrs 2015). The example in (77a) can be illustrated in (78). The definite article is an expletive determiner in D, and the non-restrictive adjective is projected above the core (the arch separates the left periphery from the core):
As for non-restrictive relative clauses, I assume that they are right-adjoined above the core. Finally, assuming that demonstratives and possessives are merged in Spec,DP, their presence leads to the absence of the expletive article. This follows from the general restriction that German only tolerates one element in the DP-layer, either in Spec,DP or in D.
To summarize, complex phrasal PN (without embedding) involve a nominal structure with the head noun of the PN at the bottom and the remaining stored elements in higher positions. Items without the feature [+proper] are projected on top of the core of the PN. Consider two possible alternatives that might also explain the data in this paper.
Above, I proposed that phrasal PN involve regular syntactic derivations constrained by vocabulary items with the feature [+proper]. Let us call this type of analysis option A. To account for the above data, one might be tempted to suggest two other options. First, option B would, metaphorically speaking, take a snapshot of the string of words making up the phrasal PN. Here the PN would be lexico-morpho-syntactically fixed, i.e., completely stored in the lexicon (cf. Anderson’s 2003: 386 discussion of “freezing” of place names). This option would work for some surface patterns. However, it would leave unexplained the regular strong/weak alternation of adjectives in German shown in (20a–b) and the optional additions or substitutions in the peripheries.
As a second alternative, option C, one could suggest that vocabulary items and abstract structures, call them templates, are stored in the lexicon (cf. Culicover & Jackendoff 2005: 29). During the derivation, the vocabulary items and templates would be taken out of the lexicon, and the vocabulary items would be inserted into these templates. While not implausible, this option is not very attractive as many different templates would be needed. In addition, many ordinary structural patterns would be stored as templates and thus duplicated in the lexicon. Furthermore, regular syntactic processes (e.g., agreement in general and the strong/weak alternation of adjectives in particular) would have to apply inside frozen templates. Finally, it would not be clear how optional elements could be added or substituted inside a fixed template.
To conclude this section, I provided an account of the basic facts in German proposing regular derivations in conjunction with the operation proprialization extended to the current cases. Employing Köhnlein’s (2015) system, this accounted for the hybrid properties of phrasal PN in German. Additions or substitutions in the peripheries can be explained by more complex structures that involve one nominal consisting of the core and phrasal layers projected on top.
This final section takes up two issues mentioned above. Although it is more tentative in nature, these issues seem interesting and offer ideas about potential avenues for future research, both empirically and theoretically.
In section 4.1, I discussed cases of phrasal PN that were almost abruptly formed (usually accompanied by some kind of name-giving act, e.g., Dein Telefonladen ‘Your Phone Store’). Now, I briefly consider the issue of what a longer-lasting process of proprialization could entail. Since there is no official name-giving act, these PN appear to evolve more or less subconsciously in the speech community. Given the above discussion though, certain properties should generally cluster together when they emerge: lexical traits are fixed by the formation of a set of vocabulary items, syntactic properties are determined by the assignment of the feature [+proper], and semantic characteristics come about by replacing the contextual dependency of common definite DPs with a referential pointer in the resultant PN. These different parts of proprialization might be diachronically relevant in different ways; for instance, the change in the semantics could precede changes in the morpho-syntax. Since proprialization involves an individual memorization procedure, we may expect some temporary inter-speaker variation.
Detailed descriptions of phrasal PN with longer-lasting developments are not easy to find.25 A notable exception is Nübling et al. (2015: 56ff), who provide a detailed summary of a phrasal PN that has started to evolve since 1990. During German reunification, the GDR joined the FRG, and the new federal states started to be referred to as die neuen Bundesländer ‘the New Federal States’. The authors point out that semantically, the name is still transparent, but the reference is fixed to the five federal states in the area of the former GDR. Lexically, this string is also fixed: the adjective cannot be replaced or removed; similarly, for the noun. Furthermore, no element can be added including degree elements. Graphematically, the adjective neu is already capitalized sometimes. Interestingly, this string has been used in the definite and plural form but not exclusively so. In a few cases, formally indefinite or singular instances have been recorded. In the above system, this would follow from the suggestion that the definite article and/or the plural feature are not part of the stored set with all speakers yet. If this development turns out to be more general, then we can observe that lexical elements such as adjectives and nouns get proprialized first. Also, depending on the historical circumstances, this process can occur over just a few years.
Turning to the second issue, this paper extended Köhnlein’s (2015) account of compound PN in Dutch to phrasal PN in German. I stated in section 4.1 that while compatible, there may be a potential trade-off in the accounts given the different properties of the two types of PN. However, it may turn out that both analyses may not only be compatible but actually share some empirical points of contact. Potential candidates of such relatedness involve phrasal PN that are built on the basis of compound PN as in the following examples from Dutch:
It is clear that the semantics of the PN in (79) is different from the regular place name Amsterdam. Furthermore, it is also evident that the neuter gender of this place name has changed in (79a–b) but not in (79c). The question arises then which of the other morpho-syntactic (and phonological) properties of the place name have transferred when creating the phrasal PN in (79). I believe these are intriguing and fruitful questions for future research.
In this paper, I demonstrated that phrasal PN have intermediate status. They are hybrid in their general semantics, they are lexically frozen, and depending on the phenomenon, they exhibit either opaque or transparent morpho-syntactic behavior. I proposed that phrasal PN involve complex lexical entries due to the operation proprialization. This operation picks out regular vocabulary items from the lexicon and assigns them the feature [+proper]. In addition, the head noun also receives a referential pointer and a category label. Third, it collects these vocabulary items into a set stored in the lexicon. This yields a complex lexical entry involving a list of unordered, multi-component vocabulary items. The effect of proprialization is that regular syntactic derivations are constrained in certain aspects. It was also shown that phrasal PN may involve fairly complex structures consisting of core and periphery. Furthermore, given that proprial articles can and sometimes must be left out with phrasal PN in German, it seems unlikely that referentiality originates in the DP-level. Rather, I claim that referentiality is due to the referential pointer on the head noun.
This paper focused on phrasal PN in German. I have made only very few cross-linguistic remarks. It is not clear to me how other languages fare (for some discussion of Norwegian, see Roehrs 2020b). Furthermore but on a different note, it might be possible to relate phrasal PN to verbal idioms such as to let the cat out of the bag. Note though that phrasal PN are referential but verbal idioms are not (also Anderson 2007: 315). Moreover, verbal idioms have some different syntactic properties (e.g., O’Grady 1998). Thus, while the formation of a stored set of vocabulary items might also be relevant for verbal idioms, other aspects of proprialization do not seem to be.
0All examples in German are authentic (identified by searches on the internet or in the German Gelbe Seiten ‘Yellow Pages’) or, if constructed, were checked for grammaticality.
1While the descriptive content of a phrasal PN is (usually) transparent, the actual reference may not be clear in all cases (e.g., Juppis gemütlicher Treff ‘Juppi’s Cozy Get-together’ is a restaurant and Conny’s Container ‘Conny’s Container’ is a store). As Weber (2004: 287) states, descriptive content may be important at the time the name is given, but it may become secondary and even opaque over time (also Allerton 1987: 71; Sturm 2005: 72). It is for this reason that I provide the category of the reference of the PN in brackets in the main text. As pointed out by Zifonun (2009: 521), names for works of art seem to be very different: syntactically, they can involve clauses (e.g., As you like it) and semantically, the descriptive content of the elements involved in the title can be quite different from the reference of the work of art (e.g., paintings, books, etc.). Given this and other issues, these type of PN will not be discussed in this paper.
2Many different taxonomies have been proposed. The above system is based on the lexical categories of the words. The latter is relevant for the present discussion (for a system based on the semantics, see Nübling et al. 2015: 102 and many others).
3In their discussion of English, Payne & Huddleston (2002: 517) call the instances with a definite article “weak PN” and the ones without a definite article “strong PN”. We will see below that both cases behave basically the same in German.
4Since the syntactic tests for syntactically indefinite PN do, at times, not yield very clear results, I will, for the most part, abstract away from these cases (for some discussion, see Roehrs 2020b).
5Köhnlein (2015) argues for different subtypes; for instance, the second part of the complex name can also be a suffix. These subtypes will not be relevant here.
6Zifonun (2009) shows that there is a difference between names for restaurants and those for works of art. While the former are integrated in the syntactic context similar to what is discussed in the main text, the latter may or may not be integrated ((ia) is a googled example):
Again, names for works of art are different from the PN discussed in the main text.
7Genitives in the masculine and neuter are a well-known exception to (21b).
8Note that (22a) and (22c) no longer involve ordinary mass nouns. This presumably has to do with their new status as being part of a PN. The latter implies the presence of a referential marker (section 4.1).
9While it is fairly easy to establish the original contexts for some PN (e.g., companies), it is less so for others (e.g., countries). If possible, I looked up the name to determine the presence of the article in the original context; if not, I assumed the article is not part of the PN.
10A reviewer points out that these suble judgments are surprising. In fact, cross-linguistically, verbs like heißen ‘to be called’ do not tolerate proprial articles occurring with (inherent) PN at all. I am not sure why there is this difference between inherent and phrasal PN.
11Let me make a brief cross-linguistic remark here. As mentioned as early as Chomsky (1965: 100), the article in the Hague in English cannot be dropped:
|(i)||English (Payne & Huddleston 2002: 517)|
|a.||*two Hague councilors|
|b.||*an impressively modernised Hague|
The same place name in Dutch, which involves the old case form den, can even combine with a regular article today (also van Langendonck 2007: 122):
This shows that this particular article has become part of the PN in English and Dutch. More generally, this seems to indicate that the presence of the article in the original context has a different status in German and is not as fixed as in some cases in other languages (for the discussion of Norwegian, see Roehrs 2020b). I believe this explains why the grammaticality contrasts of cases with vs. without the article in the original context are not very sharp in German.
12As regards the presence of the determiner in argument position, there are actually three types of country names in German: feminine PN require the presence of the article, as seen in (36b) in the main text, neuter PN do not tolerate its presence (ia), and PN that occur with a masculine article often omit it (ib) (for details, see Nübling et al. 2015: 83)
13This makes German different from languages like English.
14The reason why (ia) is also ungrammatical has to do with the generalization in German that PN can occur in Saxon Genitive constructions only if they can occur without an article in argument position (see Roehrs 2020a for discussion). Since phrasal PN have an article in argument position, they cannot occur as prenominal possessives (ia). This is different for coded PN, which occur without an article (ib):
15Frozen lexicality is clear with regard to adding elements. As for omitting elements of the PN, this is less straightforward. Given strong contextual support, this seems possible (for ellipsis, see below).
16Note that the addition of a non-restrictive adjective is not possible with phrasal PN where the proprial article is not the leftmost element. For instance, this is the case with phrasal PN that appear as PPs:
This indicates that PP proper names are frozen including the article.
17Note that von Amerika can be left out of the PN in (59c) if the reference of die Vereinigte Staaten is clear. In fact, it sounds better to leave it out if the first instance of von Amerika is present. Compare (59c) to (i):
Presumably, this grammatical awkwardness has to do with the fact that von America occurs twice in the sentence.
With some phrasal PN, an adjective can be left out as well yielding, for instance, die Staaten ‘the (United) States’:
It is possible that very frequent names can form new, shorter PN.
18For the following examples, the absence of the overt noun could be analyzed in ways other than ellipsis. What is important to keep in mind here is that it is the noun (and not other elements) that can be unpronounced or absent.
19The reverse seems to be possible as well, namely certain inherent PN may lose their markings. Consider in this regard the diachronic change from Caesar to Kaiser ‘emperor’. This supports the idea that nouns can be lexically marked with these designations and that they can receive or lose them.
20That nouns are special has already been pointed out in Baker (2003), who claims that all nouns, including common nouns, have a referential index. Having said that, it might be possible that other types of PN (e.g., works of art) are different in the way referential pointers and category labels are arranged.
21More precisely, this holds for the elements that have the feature [+proper] in the stored set (i.e., the core).
22A consequence of the above proposal might be that given that the feature [+proper] is on NP, proper names in Italian do not undergo head movement to the DP level but rather NP movement. Note that Cinque (2005) argues for roll-up movement of phrases reinterpreting head movement of (common) nouns across adjectives as phrasal movement.
23As proposed in (66b), definite articles do not have the feature [+proper]. If present, they cannot undergo movement operations for independent reasons.
24While such cases of proprialization can diachronically be reconstructed, it is not exactly clear what all the individual diachronic stages are and in what specific and generalizable order (if any) they surface (this is partly due to the fact that ungrammatical examples are not part of primary texts, such examples are typically not discussed in older secondary works, and reliable native speaker intuitions are not available for older periods of time).
ACC = accusative, DAT = dative, DIM = diminuative, FEM = feminine, GEN = genitive, MASC = masculine, NEUT = neuter, NOM = nominative, PERS = person, PL = plural, POSS = possessive, PRT = particle, ST = strong ending, WK = weak ending
I am grateful to the audiences at the University of Buffalo and the University of Cambridge for questions and comments. I would also like to thank the three anonymous reviewers for their meticulous and very helpful suggestions including help with references.
The author has no competing interests to declare.
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