Journal of Linguistics

Research Article

Definiteness marking and the structure of Danish pseudopartitives1


a1 University of California, Santa Cruz

a2 University of California, Berkeley


The Danish pseudopartitive constructions differ in their possibilities of definiteness marking: the Indirect Partitive Construction (IPC) (D N1 P N2) permits N1 to bear the definite suffix, while the Direct Partitive Construction (DPC) (D N1 N2) does not; in addition, neither construction permits the prenominal definite article in the absence of a prenominal modifier. Drawing on previous work regarding the morphosyntax of definiteness marking in Danish, we use the distribution of definiteness marking as a probe to illuminate the structure of the pseudopartitive constructions. Our conclusion is that despite superficial similarities the two constructions are quite different in structure, the IPC having a lexical N head and a PP complement, and the DPC a functional n head with an NP complement, forming a single extended projection of N2. These assumptions allow us to account for a number of differences in the behavior of these constructions, shedding light on the nature of pseudopartitives as well as on the theory of extended projections.

(Received March 23 2007)

(Revised December 11 2007)


[1] Part of this material was presented at UC Santa Cruz and at the 80th annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of America in Albuquerque. We thank both audiences for their comments. We also thank Jane Grimshaw, Lars Heltoft, and Torodd Kinn for sharing their work on pseudopartitives with us, Henk van Riemsdijk for providing us with a copy of Vos (1999), and Bjarne Ørsnes for providing us with a copy of Daugaard (1994). Nick Fleisher and Maziar Toosarvandani read an earlier version of the paper and the current version has benefited greatly from their comments and from the comments of two anonymous JL reviewers. The work of the first author was supported by a grant from the Institute for Humanities Research at the University of California, Santa Cruz.