University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics


Daniel Duncan


The English affix -ish has historically been a derivational morpheme that creates adjectives denoting approximation to the root. In this paper, I introduce a novel use of ish in English, in which it may appear following VP/PP and a pause, even when no adjective is present. I assert that this novel use is a syntactic construction, and provide an analysis of the syntax of the ish-construction. Based on facts from clefting, Sluicing, and incompatibility with NPI-licensing, I show that ish is TP-Internal and triggers island effects. Because it appears to the right of the island in the surface structure, I propose an analysis drawing from Müller's (1998) discussion of Freezing, by which moved objects cannot be extracted from. I argue that ish Merges above the VP/PP it modifies, which then moves past ish to derive the surface structure. I provide evidence from Raising constructions that support predictions made by such an analysis.