Published online by Cambridge University Press: 03 August 2019
A common observation in the literature is that unmarked or canonical readings of certain syntactic objects have different linearization requirements from marked, or focused, constituents of the same syntactic objects. Using the linear ordering of prenominal adjectives in English as a case study of marked and unmarked constituent orderings, I seek a deeper explanation for the underpinnings of linear ordering based on the hypothesis that the structural complexity of some specifier is the same as that of its sister, leading to a functional hierarchy of projections for adjectives that parallels that of noun phrases (Prinzhorn, 1996, as cited in Vergnaud, 2014a). I propose that dimensional adjectives are syntactically more complex than absolute adjectives along the semantic dimension of intersectivity, which derives the linear ordering observed. Second, once that hierarchy is established, putting narrow focus on an adjective permits multiple linear orderings, typically accounted for by movement of an adjective phrase to the Specifier position of a focus phrase (Laenzlinger, 2005; Scott, 2002; Svenonius, 2008; etc.).