Adjunction, Labeling, and Bare Phrase Structure


  • Norbert Hornstein University of Maryland
  • Jairo Nunes


minimalism, adjuncts, bare phrase structure, labels


The primary aim in this paper is to propose a phrase structure for adjunction that is compatible with the precepts of Bare Phrase Structure (BPS). Current accounts are at odds with the central vision of BPS and current practice leans more to descriptive eclecticism than to theoretical insight. A diagnosis for this conceptual disarray is suggested here: It stems from a deeply held though seldom formulated intuition; the tacit view that adjuncts are the abnormal case while arguments describe the grammatical norm. In actuality, it is argued, adjuncts are so well behaved that they require virtually no grammatical support to function properly. Arguments, in contrast, are refractory and require grammatical aid to allow them to make any propositional contribution. This last remark should come as no surprise to those with neo-Davidsonian semantic sympathies. Connoisseurs of this art form are well versed in the important role that grammatical (aka, thematic) roles play in turning arguments into modifiers of events. Such fulcra are not required for meaningfully integrating adjuncts. into sentences. In what follows, we take this difference to be of the greatest significance and we ask ourselves what this might imply for the phrase structure of adjunction.