The Structure of Genitive Constructions and Their Derivation


  • Yongzhong Yang Professor, School of International Languages and Cultures, Yunnan University of Finance and Economics, 237 Longquan Road Kunming 650221 P.R. China.



genitive constructions, genitive, internal structure, semantic interpretation, syntactic derivation


The present study is mainly concerned with the internal structure of syntactic derivation of genitive constructions. It is argued that structurally the two basic forms of genitive constructions are [DP GenP [D` D XP]] and [DP XP [D` D GenP]] (XP=NumP or NP), with prenominal genitive constructions occupying the [Spec DP] position and post-nominal genitive constructions in [Comp D`]. Between the genitive constructions and the functional head D, there is a feature checking relation, aiming to check some uninterpretable agreement features of the functional head. This relation is realized by different means in different languages. In languages such as English, German, Italian, Norwegian, Icelandic and Hebrew, it is realized via the overt movement of the genitive construction to the specifier position of the functional head, while in Chinese genitive construction, it is realized simply by feature matching. Thus, the syntactic derivation of the English genitive constructions is only one step further than that of Chinese genitive constructions. Based on this argument, the author proposes an analysis for the derivation of natural language genitive constructions, and uses it to account for the derivation of genitive constructions in relevant languages prior to the movement of the head nouns.


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How to Cite

Yang, Y. (2021). The Structure of Genitive Constructions and Their Derivation. Linguistic Forum - A Journal of Linguistics, 3(3), 1–9.