The Recursive Set-Subset Ordering Principle orders adjectives and relative clauses in visual context


  • Adina Camelia Bleotu University of Bucharest
  • Deborah Foucault University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Tom Roeper University of Massachusetts Amherst



English L1, adjectives, relative clauses, recursion, adjective ordering, visual context


We present evidence from two picture-matching experiments that native adult speakers of American English order and interpret sequences of nouns modified by adjectives/relative clauses containing adjectives in line with the Recursive Set-Subset Ordering Principle proposed in Bleotu & Roeper (2022a, b) and Bleotu, Foucault, & Roeper (2023). This principle ensures an automatic mapping of set-subset semantics to a recursive syntax in Universal Grammar, such that set modifiers are merged closer to the noun than subset modifiers: leaves (N) that are short (SET) that are long (SUBSET) or short (SET) leaves (N) that are long (SUBSET). We here expand upon the interpretation and ordering of set-subset modification to elucidate the syntactic, semantic and pragmatic interface.





How to Cite

Bleotu, Adina Camelia, Deborah Foucault, and Tom Roeper. 2023. “The Recursive Set-Subset Ordering Principle Orders Adjectives and Relative Clauses in Visual Context”. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 8 (1): 5535.