NPs versus DPs: why Chomsky was right
Geoff Pullum, Philip Miller
October 2022

The view known in the generative literature as the "DP hypothesis" posits that the head of a phrase like "those artists" is actually the demonstrative "those", rather than the noun "artists". This conflicts with what has been assumed in traditional grammars, dependency grammars, and earlier generative accounts. After briefly discussing the notion of "head" and the concept of dependency, together with the classical criteria for deciding which item is the head in a given construction, we provide a series of arguments suggesting that (as Chomsky 2020 proposes) the classical position is correct: the head of such a phrase is the noun that determines its number. We discuss a series of specific arguments and analyses that have been advanced in support of the alternative "DP" analysis, which says the head of such a phrase is the article or other determinative. We argue that they are unconvincing. We conclude, however, by observing that the choice between NP and DP analyses may not actually be capable of being settled empirically if the evidence is limited to facts of grammaticality and we allow the highly abstract kind of syntactic representations and movement analyses currently fashionable within Chomskyan generative linguistics.
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Reference: lingbuzz/006845
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keywords: english, french, dp hypothesis, head, noun phrase, determiner, determinative, syntax
previous versions: v1 [October 2022]
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