Framed within generative grammar, On appositives aims to provide an empirically and theoretically justified definition of apposition, a term that in traditional grammars is a family resemblance concept. Using data procured from grammaticality judgements on two unrelated languages, English and Turkish, it defines apposition in terms of a syntactic coordination schema in which two or more coordinands are (typically) synonyms. Adopting this definition has two immediate repercussions. Firstly, it entails that appositions should not be associated with parenthesis, contrary to consensus opinion. Secondly, it denies appositional status to a number of parenthetical insertions that are often accorded it, including appositive relative clauses and predicate nominals that ascribe properties to the host clause constituents that they modify (i.e. attributive appositions). The exclusion of these insertions from appositions proper is justified by demonstrating that, rather than being subclausal coordinands, they are clausal adjuncts that bear independent illocutionary force. The syntactic definition of apposition offered in this study also has welcome repercussions for the pragmatic characterisation of appositive constructions, as it provides a natural explanation for why certain appositive structures appear to participate in the creation of a structured discourse, while others do not.
The syntactic categorisation of appositives advocated in On appositives is supported by novel observations about how appositives interact with other well-studied linguistic phenomena. As a result, On appositives sheds new light on the nature of parenthesis and coordination, on the presence or absence of hidden/elided structure within parenthesis, and on the relation between syntactic structure and ‘secondary’ meaning. Consequently, this study is of interest to linguists concerned with the syntax, semantics, and pragmatics of appositives and the linguistic phenomena with which they closely interact.