Classical Gluonic Topic

Basic Noun Phrase Structure

Keywords: nouns, adjectives, noun phrase

The syntax of Classical Gluonic is heavily head-initial, and this is clearly seen in its noun phrases. This article looks at the structure of noun phrases that includes possible recursive structure but excluding except on a very basic level structures like possessives, quantifiers and clitic-mediated structures like prepositional phrases and relative clauses that break the uniformity of the basic structure.

A noun phrase consists of its head noun, compounding nouns, adjectives, modifying noun phrases, quantifier, possessor and colour, relational and demonstrative clitics. This article looks at the higher-level structure of noun phrases in a general way and then looks at the behaviour of adjectives and modifying nouns and noun phrases within a noun phrase in detail.

High-Level Structure of a Noun Phrase

At a high level, a noun phrase breaks down as follows, in order (bold is mandatory). Colour, case and number agreement of all these elements is required except where noted.

  1. Head noun, the element that most of all determines what kind of thing the overall phrase is.
    1. This may contain a compounding noun. The derivation of nouns by affixation or compounding is a larger discussion, but essentially the black root of a second noun creating a join meaning with the head can be appended to the black root of the head, and then the stressed syllables of both have shine and the inflection is added to the end of the compound.
  2. Modifying nouns - more weakly associated nouns that essentially form a compound with the head but which retain their own inflectional morphology. These blur into the category of adjectives.
  3. Adjectives. These have a specific order the prefer to come in, as in English, but that order is different than for English.
  4. Modifying noun phrase. This can be recursive, it can contain all the elements of a noun phrase up to this point but excluding a quantifier phrase or anything mediated by a clitic, as clitics must go at the end of the entire noun phrase and cannot go on embedded elements. Must agree with the embedding phrase in colour and case but can have a different number.
  5. Quantifier phrase, fully agrees with the head.
  6. Clitics, in order, all optional:
    1. Demonstrative clitic
    2. Weak colour clitic
    3. Strong colour clitic
    4. Relativising clitic - because there can only be one relativising clitic and it can only relativize one thing, this means there can only be one prepositional phrase, infinitive phrase or relative clause associated with a noun phrase and adding more will require a pronoun to call back to the referent as a new phrase.
      1. Anything as an object of a relativising clitic counts as a new noun phrase and may have its own clitics. Agreement with the main noun phrase is not required.
  7. Possessor, a completely new noun phrase that does not have to agree with the main noun phrase. This can only be present if the main noun phrase is in the ablative case. It may be itself in the ablative case and have a possessor.

Generally, noun phrases are not this complicated and do not contain a fraction as many elements as this schema implies they can - if their complexity causes problems for the listener, the speaker or writer will typically find ways to break them up. In particular, #4, the "Modifying noun phrase" can add layers of complexity because it can in theory go to arbitrary depth, but it is rare in practice to go down more than one level.

The way a "modifying noun phrase" works is like the English phrase "little big dog trainer." This is a little trainer of big dogs. In CG syntax, it would come out "trainer little dogs big."

Order of Adjectives

Like English, Classical Gluonic has a preferred order of adjectives that adjectives will generally respect in order for the utterance to sound fluent. The follow the noun the modify, The order is, starting form the head:

  1. Purpose
  2. Material
  3. Origin
  4. Shape
  5. Age
  6. Manner
  7. Opinion
  8. Size
  9. Colour
  10. Ordinal

The order of these attributes tends to be similar cross-linguistically, with the CG order being nearly the reverse of the order seen in English as befits the fact that adjectives follow nouns in CG. The only oddity that stands out is that colour is found second-to-last in the sequence, instead of between Origin and Shape as it would be in English.

Other Nominals as Heads

Other types of nominals, or noun-like words, like adjectives can function as the head of a noun phrase. In these cases, there is usually an understood head being omitted. There can be restrictions when a non-noun nominal is used as the head of a noun phrase.


Adjectives are the most noun-like nominals and are the least restricted as heads. In fact, in a certain sense they are nouns, and in fact nouns and adjectives fairly readily zero derive into each other. The restriction is that when an adjective stands in for a noun as opposed to being reanalyzed as a noun, like using "I-VA*N" to mean "the white one," adjectives that would normally appear before it in sequence ordinarily cannot appear in the phrase.

If a number is used as the head, it can be interpreted either as "the Nth one" or "the number N," depending on context.

Classifiers and Quantifier Phrases

Classifiers are a separate topic in their own right, but they form the heads of quantifier phrases and are required to count anything exactly. They can be used directly as heads, where they cannot take any adjectives or modifying noun phrases, and any number with them is interpreted as a cardinality

Nominal Infinitives and Verbal Complements

These types of nominals can occupy verb roles and act as heads in a sense but cannot take any of the structure associated with noun phrases except insofar as they contain noun phrases as arguments. A nominal infinitive, while able to modify a noun using a relativiser, cannot stand in for the noun phrase independently.


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