Despite their apparent simplicity, the structure of DPs containing “complement” CPs (what we will call DCs) has long been obscure. One major strand of investigation has attempted to assimilate DCs to (close) nominal apposition, implying that N and CP form a structural unit which then combines with D.
Danish has two kinds of DCs, a bare DC with the superficial structure [D N CP] and a prepositional DC in which the CP is encased in a PP. Exploiting clues provided by the allomorphy of the definite morpheme, we argue that the bare and prepositional DCs have very different structures, neither of which can be assimilated to apposition between N and CP.
We show that the two kinds of DC have different semantic/pragmatic properties, the bare DCs being referent-establishing in the sense of Hawkins (1978) and the (definite) prepositional DC being anaphoric.
We then argue that English also has different structures for anaphoric and referent- establishing DCs, and that they are plausibly parallel to the structures we establish for Danish. We conclude by arguing that if the structure of any DCs in English is to be assimilated to apposition, it must be apposition between DP and CP.