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This book investigates noun phrases in a representative sample of the world's 6,000 or so languages and proposes a semantic model to describe their underlying structure in any natural language. It examines the semantic and morpho-syntactic properties of the constituents of noun phrases. In doing so it shows that the noun phrase word order patterns of any human language can be derived from three universal ordering principles and, furthermore, that these are all elaborations of one general iconic principle according to which elements that belong together semantically tend to occur together syntactically. Professor Rijkhoff analyses the noun phrase as a semantic hierarchy which accommodates four noun modifiers relating to quality, quantity, location, and discourse. Noun phrases and sentences can be similarly analysed, he argues, because they have the same underlying semantic structure that accommodates the same kind of modifier categories. He introduces the notion of Seinsart or 'mode of being' as the nominal counterpart of Aktionsart 'mode of action' in verb semantics. He proposes a new grammatical category of nominal aspect and an implicational universal concerning the occurrence of adjectives as a major word class in the part-of-speech system of a language. The book is clearly organized, easily accessible, and assumes no knowledge of a particular formal or functional theory. It will interest linguists and students of linguistics of all theoretical persuasions, as well as students of the cognitive sciences and anthropology.