Basic English Syntax with Exercises Bölcsész Konzorcium

Basic English Syntax with Exercises Bölcsész Konzorcium
Basic English Syntax
with Exercises
Mark Newson
Marianna Hordós
Dániel Pap
Krisztina Szécsényi
Gabriella Tóth
Veronika Vincze
Bölcsész
Konzorcium
2006
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• Berzsenyi Dániel Főiskola
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A kötet szerzői: Mark Newson
Marianna Hordós
Dániel Pap
Krisztina Szécsényi
Gabriella Tóth
Veronika Vincze
Szerkesztette: Szécsényi Tibor és Nádasdi Péter
Lektor:
Pelyvás Péter
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Basic English Syntax
with Exercises
Mark Newson
Dániel Pap
Gabriella Tóth
Krisztina Szécsényi
Marianna Hordós
Veronika Vincze
Preface
Linguists, it has to be admitted, are strange animals. They get very excited about things
that the rest of the species seem almost blind to and fail to see what all the fuss is
about. This wouldn’t be so bad if linguists were an isolated group. But they are not,
and what’s more they have to teach non-linguists about their subject. One mistake that
linguists often make is to assume that to teach linguistics, students should be instilled
with the kind of enthusiasm for the subject that linguists themselves have. But not
everybody wants to be a linguist and, as a friend of mine once said, not everybody can
be a linguist.
What the dedicated language student wants, however, is not the ability to analyse
complex data from languages in exotic regions of the world, or to produce coherent
theories that explain why you can’t say his being running in a more elegant way than
anyone else can. What they want from linguistics is to see what the subject can offer
them in coming to some understanding of how the language that they are studying
works. It is for these students that this book has been written.
This is not to say that this is not a linguistics text. It is, and linguistics permeates
every single page. But the difference is that it is not trying to tell you how to become a
linguist – and what things to get excited about – but what linguistic theory has to offer
for the understanding of the English language. Many introductory text books in syntax
use language data as a way of justifying the theory, so what they are about is the
linguistic theory rather than the language data itself. A book which was about language
would do things differently; it would use the theory to justify a certain view of the
language under study. We have attempted to write such a book.
As part consequence of this, we have adopted a number of strategies. The first is
what we call the ‘No U-turn’ strategy. If you have ever read an introductory book on a
linguistic topic you may have found pages and pages of long and complicated
arguments as to why a certain phenomena must be analysed in such and such a way,
only to find in the next chapter that there is actually a better way of doing things by
making certain other assumptions. This is the sort of thing that linguist find fun. But
students often find it confusing and frustrating. So we have attempted to write this
book without using this strategy. As far as possible, concepts and analyses that are
introduced at some point in the book are not altered at some later point in the book.
Obviously, pictures have to be painted a bit at a time to make them understandable and
so it isn’t possible to ‘tell the whole truth’ right from the start. But an attempt has been
made to build up the picture piece by piece, without having to go back and rub out
earlier parts of the sketch.
Another strategy adopted in the book is to avoid unnecessary formalisms. These are
very useful if you want to understand the workings of a theory to the extent needed to see
where its weaknesses are and how it needs to be developed to overcome these. But as
this is not our aim, it is not necessary to make students fully aware of how to formalise
grammatical principles. All they need is an understanding of how the principles work
and what they predict about the language and this can be put over in a less formal way.
Preface
The target audience for the book is BA students, covering the introductory syntax
level and going through to more advanced BA level material. For this reason, the book
starts from the beginning and tries to make as few assumptions as possible about
linguistic notions. The first two chapters are a fairly substantial introduction to
grammatical concepts both from a descriptive and a theoretical point of view. This
material alone, along with the exercises, could form the basis of an introduction to a
syntax course. The latter chapters then address specific aspects of the English language
and how the concepts and grammatical mechanisms introduced in the first two
chapters can be applied to these to enable an understanding of why they are as they
are. As the book relies on a ‘building’ process, starting out at basic concepts and
adding to these to enable the adequate description of some quite complex and subtle
phenomena, we have also provided an extensive glossary, so that if you happen to
forget a concept that was introduced in one part of the book and made use of in
another, then it is easy to keep yourself reminded as you read.
Obviously, another feature that we hope is more student-friendly is the exercises,
of which we have a substantial amount. These range in type and level, from those
which you can use to check your understanding of the text, to those which get you to
think about things which follow from the text, but which are not necessarily discussed
there. Some are easy and some will make you think. A fairly unique aspect of the book
is that it also provides model answers to the exercises so that you can check to see
whether you were on the right track with your answer and also for you to learn from:
making mistakes is one of the best ways to learn. But if you never know what mistakes
you made, you can’t learn from them. Obviously, the best way to use the exercises and
model answers is to have a go at the exercises by yourself first and then go and read
the model answers. While you may be able to learn something by reading the model
answers without having a go at the exercises, it is doubtful that you will get as much
out of them.
Finally, a brief word about the team of writers is in order. Although we very much
opted for a division of labour approach to the writing of this book, it has been no less
of a team effort. The text was written by Mark Newson and the exercises prepared by
Hordós Marianna, Szécsényi Krisztina, Pap Dániel, Tóth Gabriella and Vincze
Veronika. Szécsényi Krisztina prepared the glossary. Most of the editing was carried
out by Hordós Marianna, Nádasdi Péter, Szécsényi Krisztina and Szécsényi Tibor.
Szécsényi Tibor also has had the responsibility for the electronic version of the book
and managing the forum set up to help us keep in touch. Thanks go to Kenesei István
for his help in setting up the project and for valuable comments on the text and also to
Marosán Lajos for equally valuable comments. We are also grateful for the
conscientious work and useful remarks of our reviewer, Pelyvás Péter. Marianna and
Krisztina are responsible for everything. Without them, nothing would have happened.
vi
Table of Contents
Preface
v
Table of Contents
vii
Chapter 1 Grammatical Foundations: Words
1
1
4
4
5
6
8
10
11
15
17
18
37
47
51
51
Chapter 2 Grammatical Foundations: Structure
57
57
57
59
61
64
65
66
67
68
68
72
74
75
75
79
82
83
84
85
1
2
Language, Grammar and Linguistic Theory
Word Categories
2.1
The Lexicon
2.2
Categories
2.3
Morphological criteria for determining category
2.4
Distribution
3 A Typology of Word Categories
3.1
Categorial features
3.2
Predicates and arguments
3.3
Grammatical aspects of meaning
3.4
The Thematic categories
3.5
Functional Categories
3.6
Functionally underspecified categories
Check Questions
Test your knowledge
1
Structure
1.1
The building blocks of sentences
1.2
Phrases
1.3
Sentences within phrases
1.4
Structural positions
1.5
Structural terminology
1.6
Labels
1.7
Rules
2 Grammatical Functions
2.1
The subject
2.2
The object
2.3
Indirect object
3 Testing for Structure
3.1
Substitution
3.2
Movement
3.3
Coordination
3.4
Single-word phrases
Check Questions
Test your knowledge
Table of Contents
Chapter 3 Basic Concepts of Syntactic Theory
87
87
87
89
92
95
96
100
101
102
104
113
118
120
120
121
Chapter 4 The Determiner Phrase
129
129
137
137
138
142
143
148
148
149
Chapter 5 Verb Phrases
153
153
156
156
159
162
172
182
184
188
193
197
197
198
201
203
203
206
207
209
210
210
1
X-bar Theory
1.1
Rewrite rules and some terminology
1.2
Endocentricity
1.3
Heads and Complements
1.4
Specifiers
1.5
Adjuncts
1.6
Summary
2 Theoretical Aspects of Movement
2.1
Move
2.2
D-structure and S-structure
2.3
Traces
2.4
Locality Restrictions on movement
3 Conclusion
Check Questions
Test your knowledge
1
2
Why the Noun is not the Head of the DP
The Internal Structure of the DP
2.1
Determiners and Complements
2.2
The Specifier of the DP
2.3
Adjunction within the DP
3 Multiple Determiners
4 Conclusion
Check Questions
Test your knowledge
1
2
Event Structure and Aspect
Verb Types
2.1
Unaccusative verbs
2.2
Light verbs
2.3
Ergative verbs
2.4
Transitive verbs
2.5
Intransitive verbs
2.6
Multiple complement verbs
2.7
Phrasal verbs
2.8
Verbs with clausal complements
2.9
Summary
3 Aspectual Auxiliary Verbs
3.1
The auxiliary as a dummy
3.2
The nature of the aspectual morpheme
4 Adverbs, PPs and Clausal modifiers
4.1
Adverbs
4.2
PP modifiers
4.3
Clausal modifiers
5 Conclusion
Check Questions
Test your knowledge
viii
Table of Contents
Chapter 6 Inflectional Phrases
213
213
218
220
221
225
230
233
238
239
239
240
Chapter 7 Complementiser Phrases
243
243
246
248
248
250
253
254
261
263
263
265
270
270
272
273
277
277
278
Chapter 8 The Syntax of Non-Finite Clauses
281
281
281
288
290
294
298
303
307
308
308
1
2
The structure of IP
The syntax of inflection
2.1
Inserting auxiliaries into I
2.2
Do-insertion
2.3
Tense and Agreement
2.4
Movement to tense and I
3 Movement to Spec IP
4 Adjunction within IP
5 Conclusion
Check Questions
Test your knowledge
1
2
3
The structure of CP
The Clause as CP
Interrogative CPs
3.1
Basic positions within the CP
3.2
Wh-movement
3.3
Inversion
3.4
The interaction between wh-movement and inversion
3.5
Subject questions
4 Relative Clauses
4.1
The position of the relative clause inside the NP
4.2
A comparison between relative and interrogative clauses
5 Other fronting movements
5.1
Topicalisation
5.2
Focus fronting
5.3
Negative fronting
6 Conclusion
Check Questions
Test your knowledge
1
Exceptional and Small Clauses
1.1
Clauses without CP
1.2
Clauses without IP
2 Raising and Control
2.1
Raising
2.2
Control
3 The Gerund
4 Conclusion
Check questions
Test your knowledge
ix
Table of Contents
Suggested Answers and Hints
313
313
327
329
346
364
376
396
413
Glossary
431
Bibliography
455
Index
456
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
x
Chapter 1
Grammatical Foundations:
Words
1
Language, Grammar and Linguistic Theory
This book attempts to describe some of the basic grammatical characteristics of the
English language in a way accessible to most students of English. For this reason we
start at the beginning and take as little as possible for granted. Definitions are given for
grammatical concepts when they are first used and there is a glossary at the back of the
book to remind the reader of these as he or she works through it. At the end of each
chapter there are an extensive set of exercises which the student is encouraged to
consider and work through either in class or alone. For those students working alone,
we have also provided model answers for the exercises. These are for the student to
check their understanding of the material supported by the exercises and to offer
observations that the student may have missed.
The uninitiated student might be surprised to find that there are many ways to
describe language, not all compatible with each other. In this book we make use of a
particular system of grammatical description based mainly on Government and
Binding theory, though it is not our aim to teach this theory and we will very rarely
refer to it directly. We use the theory to offer a description of English, rather than
using English to demonstrate the theory. We will spend a short amount of time at the
beginning of the book to state our reasons for choosing this theory, as opposed to any
other, to base our descriptions.
Whatever else language might be (e.g. a method of communicating, something to
aid thought, a form of entertainment or of aesthetic appreciation) it is first and
foremost a system that enables people who speak it to produce and understand
linguistic expressions. The nature of this system is what linguistics aims to discover.
But where do we look for this system? It is a common sense point of view that
language exists in people’s heads. After all, we talk of knowing and learning
languages. This also happens to be the belief of the kind of linguistics that this book
aims to introduce: in a nutshell, the linguistic system that enables us to ‘speak’ and
‘understand’ a language is a body of knowledge which all speakers of a particular
language have come to acquire.
If this is true, then our means for investigating language are fairly limited – we
cannot, for instance, subject it to direct investigation, as delving around in someone’s
brain is not only an ethical minefield, but unlikely to tell us very much given our
current level of understanding of how the mind is instantiated in the brain. We are left,
therefore, with only indirect ways of investigating language. Usually this works in the
following way: we study what the linguistic system produces (grammatical sentences
which have certain meanings) and we try to guess what it is that must be going on in
Chapter 1 - Grammatical Foundations: Words
the speaker’s head to enable them to do this. As you can imagine, this is not always
easy and there is a lot of room for differences of opinion. Some of us might tell you
that that is exactly what makes linguistics interesting.
There are however some things we can assume from the outset about the linguistic
system without even looking too closely at the details of language. First, it seems that
speakers of a language are able to produce and understand a limitless number of
expressions. Language simply is not a confined set of squeaks and grunts that have
fixed meanings. It is an everyday occurrence that we produce and understand
utterances that probably have never been produced before (when was the last time you
heard someone say the bishop was wearing a flowing red dress with matching high
heeled shoes and singing the Columbian national anthem? – yet you understood it!).
But if language exists in our heads, how is this possible? The human head is not big
enough to contain this amount of knowledge. Even if we look at things like brain cells
and synapse connections, etc., of which there is a very large number possible inside the
head, there still is not the room for an infinite amount of linguistic knowledge. The
answer must be that this is not how to characterise linguistic knowledge: we do not
store all the possible linguistic expressions in our heads, but something else which
enables us to produce and understand these expressions. As a brief example to show
how this is possible, consider the set of numbers. This set is infinite, and yet I could
write down any one of them and you would be able to tell that what I had written was a
number. This is possible, not because you or I have all of the set of numbers in our
heads, but because we know a small number of simple rules that tell us how to write
numbers down. We know that numbers are formed by putting together instances of the
ten digits 0,1,2,3, etc. These digits can be put together in almost any order (as long as
numbers bigger than or equal to 1 do not begin with a 0) and in any quantities.
Therefore, 4 is a number and so is 1234355, etc. But 0234 is not a number and neither
is qewd. What these examples show is that it is possible to have knowledge of an
infinite set of things without actually storing them in our heads. It seems likely that
this is how language works.
So, presumably, what we have in our heads is a (finite) set of rules which tell us
how to recognise the infinite number of expressions that constitute the language that
we speak. We might refer to this set of rules as a grammar, though there are some
linguists who would like to separate the actual set of rules existing inside a speaker’s
head from the linguist’s guess of what these rules are. To these linguists a grammar is
a linguistic hypothesis (to use a more impressive term than ‘guess’) and what is inside
the speaker’s head IS language, i.e. the object of study for linguistics. We can
distinguish two notions of language from this perspective: the language which is
internal to the mind, call it I-language, which consists of a finite system and is what
linguists try to model with grammars; and the language which is external to the
speaker, E-language, which is the infinite set of expressions defined by the I-language
that linguists take data from when formulating their grammars. We can envisage this
as the following:
2
Language, Grammar and Linguistic Theory
(1)
grammar
models
provides data
I-language
E-language
defines
So, a linguist goes out amongst language speakers and listens to what they produce and
perhaps tests what they can understand and formulates a grammar based on these
observations.
It is the way of the universe that no truths are given before we start our
investigations of it. But until we have some way of separating what is relevant to our
investigations from what is irrelevant there is no way to proceed: do we need to test
the acidity of soil before investigating language? It seems highly unlikely that we
should, but if we know nothing from the outset, how can we decide? It is necessary
therefore, before we even begin our investigations, to make some assumptions about
what we are going to study. Usually, these assumptions are based on common sense,
like those I have been making so far. But it is important to realise that they are
untested assumptions which may prove to be wrong once our investigations get under
way. These assumptions, plus anything we add to them as we start finding out about
the world, we call a theory.
Linguistic theories are no different from any other theory in this respect. All
linguists base themselves on one theory or another. One group of linguists, known as
generativists, claim that in order to do things properly we need to make our theories
explicit. This can be seen as a reaction to a more traditional approach to linguistics
which typically claims to operate atheoretically, but, in fact, makes many implicit
assumptions about language which are themselves never open to investigation or
challenge. Generative linguists point out that progress is unlikely to be made like this,
as if these assumptions turn out to be wrong we will never find out, as they are never
questioned. In order to find out if our assumptions are correct, they need to be
constantly questioned and the only way to do this is to make them explicit.
Because of this, it is my opinion that the generative perspective is the one that is
most likely to provide the best framework for a description of language. We will
therefore adopt this perspective and so certain aspects of the theory will form part of
the content of the book, but only in so far as they help to achieve the main goal of
explaining why English is as it is. In true generative style, I will take the rest of this
chapter to try to make explicit some of the basic assumptions that we will be making in
the rest of the book.
3
Chapter 1 - Grammatical Foundations: Words
2
Word Categories
2.1
The Lexicon
The first assumption we will make is that one of the things that a speaker of a language
knows is facts about words. We know, for instance, how a given word is pronounced,
what it means and where we can put it in a sentence with respect to other words. To
take an example, the English word cat is known to be pronounced [kæt], is known to
mean ‘a small, domesticated animal of meagre intelligence that says meow’ and is
known to be able to fit into the marked slots in sentences (2), but not in those marked
in (3):
(2)
a the cat slept
b he fed Pete’s cat
c I tripped over a cat
(3)
a *the dog cat the mouse
b *cat dog howled
c *the dog slept cat a kennel
Note!
An asterisk at the beginning of a
sentence indicates that the sentence
is ungrammatical.
It is obvious that this knowledge is not predictable from anything. There is no reason
why the object that we call a cat should be called a cat, as witnessed by the fact that
other languages do not use this word to refer to the same object (e.g. macska
(Hungarian), chat (French), Katze (German), gato (Spanish), quatus (Maltese) kot
(Russian), kissa (Finnish), neko (Japanese), mao (Chinese), paka (Swahili)). Moreover,
there is nothing about the pronunciation [kæt] that means that it must refer to this
object: one can imagine a language in which the word pronounced [kæt] is used for
almost anything else. This kind of linguistic knowledge is not ‘rule governed’, but is
just arbitrary facts about particular languages.
Part of linguistic knowledge, therefore, is a matter of knowing brute fact. For each
and every word of the language we speak it must be the case that we know how they
are pronounced and what they mean. But this is different from our knowledge of
sentences. For one thing, there are only a finite number of words in any given language
and each speaker will normally operate with only a proportion of the total set of words
that may be considered to belong to the language. Therefore, it is not problematic to
assume that knowledge of words is just simply stored in our heads. Moreover,
although it is possible, indeed it is fairly common, for new words to enter a language,
it is usually impossible to know what a new word might mean without explicitly being
told. For example, unless you had been told, it is not possible to know that the word
wuthering found in the title of the novel by Emily Brontë is a Yorkshire word referring
to the noise that a strong wind makes. With sentences, on the other hand, we know
what they mean on first hearing without prior explanation. Thus, knowledge of words
and knowledge of sentences seem to be two different things: knowledge of words is
brute knowledge while knowledge of sentences involves knowing a system that
enables us to produce and understand an infinite number of them (an I-language).
Clearly, part of knowing what a sentence means involves knowing what the words that
constitute it mean, but this is not everything: the meanings of the words three, two,
dogs, cats, and bit simply do not add up to the meaning of the sentence three dogs bit
4
Word Categories
two cats (if you think about it this sentence might mean that anything between two and
six cats got bitten, which is not predictable from the meaning of the words).
Let us assume that these different types of linguistic knowledge are separate. We
can call the part of I-language which is to do with words the Lexicon. This might be
imagined as a kind of mental dictionary in which we store specific information about
all the words that we use: how they are pronounced, what they mean, etc.
2.2
Categories
Lexical knowledge concerns more than the meaning and pronunciation of words,
however. Consider the examples in (2) and (3) again. The word cat is not the only one
that could possibly go in the positions in (2), so could the words dog, mouse and
budgerigar:
(4)
a the dog slept
b he fed Pete’s mouse
c I tripped over a budgerigar
This is perhaps not so surprising as all these words have a similar meaning as they
refer to pets. However, compare the following sets of sentences:
(5)
a the hairbrush slept
b he fed Pete’s algebra
c I tripped over a storm
(6)
a the if slept
b he fed Pete’s multiply
c I tripped over a stormy
There is something odd about both these set of sentences, but note that they do not
have the same status. The sentences in (5), while it is difficult to envisage how they
could be used, are not as weird as those in (6). Given that neither sets of sentences
make much sense, this does not seem to be a fact about the meanings of the words
involved. There is something else involved. It seems that some words have something
in common with each other and that they differ from other words in the same way.
Hence, the set of words in a language is not one big homogenous set, but consists of
groupings of words that cluster together. We call these groups word categories. Some
well known categories are listed below:
(7)
nouns
verbs
adjectives
prepositions
The obvious question to ask is: on what basis are words categorised? As pointed
out above, it is not straightforward to categorise words in terms of their meaning,
though traditionally this is a very popular idea. Part of the problem is that when one
looks at the range of meanings associated with the words of one category, we need to
resort to some very general concept that they might share. For example, a well known
definition for the category noun is that these are words that name people, places or
5
Chapter 1 - Grammatical Foundations: Words
things. While this may give us a useful rule of thumb to identifying the category of a
lot of words, we often run into trouble as the notion is not particularly precise: in what
way do nouns ‘name’ and what counts as a thing, for example? While it may be
obvious that the word Bartók names a particular person, because that is what we call
the thing that this word refers to, it is not clear why, therefore, the word think is not
considered a name, because that is what we call the thing that this refers to. Moreover,
the fact that the words:
(8)
idea
weather
cold
friendliness
diplomacy
are all nouns means that the concept thing must extend to them, but how do we
therefore stop the concept from extending to:
(9)
conceptualise
atmospheric
warm
friendly
negotiate
which are not nouns?
Fortunately, there are other ways of determining the category of words, which we
will turn to below. But it is important to note that there are two independent issues
here. On the one hand is the issue of how the notion of word category is instantiated in
the linguistic system and on the other hand is the issue of how we, as linguists, tell the
category of any particular word. As to the first issue, word categories are simply
properties of lexical elements, listed in the lexical entry for each word, and, as we have
pointed out, lexical information is arbitrary. Therefore, word categories are whatever
the linguistic system determines them to be. While there may be some link between
meaning and category established by the linguistic system, for now it is not important
that we establish what this link is or to speculate on its nature (does meaning influence
category or does category influence meaning, for example?). More pressing at the
moment is the issue of how we determine the category of any given word. Before
looking at specific categories, let us consider some general ways for determining
categories.
2.3
Morphological criteria for determining category
Consider the set of words in (8) again. Alongside these we also have the related words:
(10)
ideas
weathers
colds
friendlinesses
diplomacies
6
Word Categories
Although some of these may sound strange concepts, they are perfectly acceptable
forms. The idea–ideas case is the most straightforward. The distinction between these
two words is that while the first refers to a single thing, the second refers to more than
one of them. This is the distinction between singular and plural and in general this
distinction can apply to virtually all nouns. Consider a more strange case: friendliness–
friendlinesses. What is strange here is not the grammatical concepts of singular or
plural, but that the semantic distinction is not one typically made. However, it is
perfectly possible to conceptualise different types of friendliness: one can be friendly
by saying good morning to someone as you pass in the street, without necessarily
entering into a deeper relationship with them; other forms of friendliness may demand
more of an emotional commitment. Therefore we can talk about different
friendlinesses. By contrast, consider the following, based on the words in (9):
(11)
conceptualises
atmospherics
warms
friendlies
negotiates
While not all of these words are ill formed by themselves, none of them can be
considered to be the plural versions of the words in (9). These words simply do not
have a plural form. Plural forms are restricted to the category noun and other
categories do not have them.
What we have been looking at in the above paragraph is the morphological
properties of words: the various forms we find for different words. Often morphemes
constitute different pieces of words: the form ideas can be broken down into ‘idea’ and
‘s’, where the second piece represents the plural aspect of the word and is called the
plural morpheme. The point is that only words of certain categories can host
morphemes of certain types. Consider warms from (11). This, too, breaks down into
two pieces, ‘warm’ and ‘s’. But the ‘s’ here is not the plural morpheme but another one
which expresses something entirely different. This is the morpheme we get on words
like hits, sees, kisses and imagines and it represents present tense, which has a number
of meanings in English ranging from the description of what is taking place at the
present moment to something that habitually happens:
(12) a the groom kisses the bride (commentary on a video of a wedding)
b John hits pedestrians only when he’s not paying attention
Note that this morpheme cannot go in any of the words in (8) (except for weather, a
fact that we will return to): ideas is not the present tense form of the word idea.
Essentially then, different categories of words have different morphological properties
and therefore one can distinguish between categories in terms of what morphemes they
take: if it has a plural form, it is a noun and if it has a present tense form it is a verb.
It should be noted however, that there are a number of complications to the simple
picture given above. First, it should be pointed out that morphological forms are not
always uniformly produced. For example, compare the following singular and plural
forms:
7
Chapter 1 - Grammatical Foundations: Words
(13)
idea
cat
man
sheep
hippopotamus
ideas
cats
men
sheep
hippopotami
The first two cases in (13) represent the regular plural form in English, as we have
been discussing. But even here there are differences. In the first case the morpheme is
pronounced [z] whereas in the second it is pronounced [s]. This is a fact about English
morpho-phonemics, that certain morphemes are unvoiced following an unvoiced
consonant, that we will not go into in this book. However, this does show that what we
are dealing with is something more abstract than simply pronunciations. This point is
made even more forcefully by the third and fourth cases. The plural form men differs
from the singular man in terms of the quality of the vowel and the plural form sheep is
phonetically identical to the singular form sheep. From our point of view, however, the
important point is not the question of how morphological forms are realised (that is a
matter for phonologists), but that the morphological forms exist. Sheep IS the plural
form of sheep and so there is a morphological plural for this word, which we know
therefore is a noun. There is no plural form for the word warm, even abstractly, and so
we know that this is not a noun.
What about cases like weather, where the form weathers can either be taken to be a
plural form or a present tense form, as demonstrated by the following:
(14) a the weathers in Europe and Australasia differ greatly
b heavy rain weathers concrete
This is not an unusual situation and neither is it particularly problematic. Clearly, the
word weather can function as either a noun or a verb. As a noun it can take the plural
morpheme and as a verb it can take the present tense morpheme. There may be issues
here to do with how we handle this situation: are there two entries in the lexicon for
these cases, one for the noun weather and one for the verb, or is there one entry which
can be categorised as either a noun or a verb? Again, however, we will not concern
ourselves with these issues as they have little bearing on syntactic issues.
2.4
Distribution
Let us turn now to the observations made in (2) and (3). There we observed that there
are certain positions in a sentence that some words can occupy and other words cannot.
Clearly, this is determined by category. This is perhaps the most basic point of word
categories as far as syntax is concerned. The grammar of a language determines how
we construct the expressions of the language. The grammar, however, does not refer to
the individual words of the lexicon, telling us, for example, that the word cat goes in
position X in expression Y. Such a system would not be able to produce an indefinite
number of sentences as there would have to be such a rule for every expression of the
language. Instead, the grammar defines the set of possible positions for word
categories, hence allowing the construction of numerous expressions from a small
number of grammatical principles. The question of how these positions are defined is
mostly what this book is about, but for now, for illustrative purposes only, let us
pretend that English has a rule that says that a sentence can be formed by putting a
8
Word Categories
noun in front of a verb. This rule then tells us that the expressions in (15) are
grammatical and those in (16) are not:
(15) a
b
c
d
John smiled
cats sleep
dogs fly
etc.
(16) a
b
c
d
*ran Arnold
*emerged solutions
*crash dogs
*etc.
This is not meant to be a demonstration of how English grammar works, but how a
rule which makes reference to word categories can produce a whole class of
grammatical expressions.
We call the set of positions that the grammar determines to be possible for a given
category the distribution of that category. If the grammar determines the distribution
of categories, it follows that we can determine what categories the grammar works
with by observing distributional patterns: words that distribute in the same way will
belong to the same categories and words that distribute differently will belong to
different categories.
The notion of distribution, however, needs refining before it can be made use of.
To start with, as we will see, sentences are not organised as their standard written
representations might suggest: one word placed after another in a line. We can see this
by the following example:
(17)
dogs chase cats
If distribution were simply a matter of linear order, we could define the first position
as a position for nouns, the second position for verbs and the third position for nouns
again based on (17). Sure enough, this would give us quite a few grammatical
sentences:
(18) a
b
c
d
dogs chase birds
birds hate cats
hippopotami eat apples
etc.
However, this would also predict the following sentences to be ungrammatical as in
these we have nouns in the second position and verbs in the third:
(19) a
b
c
d
obviously dogs chase cats
rarely dogs chase birds
today birds hate cats
daintily hippopotami eat apples
It is fairly obvious that the sentences in (19) are not only grammatical, but they are
grammatical for exactly the same reason that the sentences in (17) and (18) are: the
nouns and verbs are sitting in exactly the same positions regardless of whether the
9
Chapter 1 - Grammatical Foundations: Words
sentence starts with a word like obviously or not. It follows, then, that distributional
positions are not defined in terms of linear order. Just how distributional positions are
defined is something to which we will return when we have introduced the relevant
concepts.
A further complication is indicated by the following observation:
(20) a Knut hates sea
b *Knut smiles sea
The morphological forms hates and smiles are both present tense, indicating that the
words are of the same category, i.e. verbs. However, as demonstrated by (20), these
words appear to have different distributions and thus they belong to different
categories. How can this apparent contradiction be reconciled? We will see that part of
the solution to this problem follows from the way in which distributions are defined,
which we have yet to discuss. However, another aspect of distribution can be discussed
at this point. Note that a sentence in which the verb smiles would be grammatical,
would be ungrammatical with the word hates:
(21) a Knut smiles
b *Knut hates
Obviously there are words which cannot go in either of these positions:
(22) a *Knut cats sea
b *Knut cats
What (22) indicates is that the positions we are considering here are both verb
positions, and hence a noun cannot occupy them. Yet some verbs can occupy one of
these positions and other verbs can occupy the other. This suggests that there are
different types of verb, what we might call subcategories of the category verb. If this
is right, we would expect that the set of possible verbal positions would be divided up
between the different verbal subcategories so that the positions in which one can
appear in are those in which the others cannot. In other words, different subcategories
will have complementary distributions. This indeed seems to be true, as (20) and
(21) indicate.
3
A Typology of Word Categories
Having introduced some of the basic concepts, let us now turn to look at what
categories we need to refer to in the description of a language like English. In
generative linguistics it is often seen as a positive aim to keep basic theoretical
equipment to a bare minimum and not to expand these unnecessarily. This can be seen
in the standard approach to word categories in terms of the attempt to keep these to as
small a number as possible. In the present book we will mainly be concerned with
eight basic categories. These come in two general types: thematic categories and
functional categories. In the thematic categories we have verbs (V), nouns (N),
adjectives (A) and prepositions (P) and in the functional categories there are
inflections (I), determiners (D), degree adverbs (Deg) and complementisers (C). Thus
we have the following classification system:
10
A Typology of Word Categories
(23)
Words
thematic categories
V
N
A
functional categories
P
I
D
Deg
C
We will introduce these categories individually in the following sections.
3.1
Categorial features
Before we start to look at the properties of individual categories, we will make the
typology of categories described in (23) a little more systematic. One might wonder
why there are these categories and why their division is so regular: four thematic
categories and four functional ones. Moreover, we may have the feeling that the
categories given in (23) are not completely unrelated to each other. For example, it is
often felt that nouns and verbs are somehow opposites of each other or that adjectives
have some things in common with nouns and other things in common with verbs. Even
across the thematic/functional divide, we may see similarities. For example, words like
the, these and some are determiners and these seem more related to nouns, which they
usually accompany, than to verbs. Modal auxiliary verbs, such as may, can and must,
which as we will see are classified as belonging to the inflections, are obviously more
closely related to verbs than nouns.
But how can we explain these perceived relationships? It is certain that if we define
word categories in individual terms, say by just listing possible categories, then any
explanation of the categories themselves or their relationships will be impossible. An
analogy might serve to make the point clearer. Suppose that biologists had never
thought of categorising living things into taxonomic groups and instead simply
identified individual sub-species such as ladybirds, field mice, pythons, etc. From this
perspective it would be impossible to answer questions such as why do ladybirds and
bluebottles both have six legs and wings? At best, biologists would only be able to
claim that this was an accidental chance happening. Once there is a taxonomic system,
such questions are easily answered: ladybirds and bluebottles are both insects and all
insects have six legs and wings. The same is true for word categories. If we merely
identify categories such as nouns, verbs and determiners, we cannot explain
relationships between the categories.
One way to impose a system on elements is to use a set of features to distinguish
between them. Each category can then be defined in terms of a unique collection of
these features, but they may share some of the features with other categories,
accounting for similarities between them. In linguistics, binary features, i.e. those
which can be valued in one of two ways (plus or minus), have been found useful for
producing systems of categorisation. For example, we might propose a feature [±F]
(‘F’ to indicate functional) to distinguish between the thematic and functional
categories. All thematic categories would possess the [–F] feature and all functional
categories would possess the [+F] feature. In this way we can immediately distinguish
between the two groups and account for why certain categories are similar to others in
terms of which feature they possess.
11
Chapter 1 - Grammatical Foundations: Words
Other features that have been proposed include [±N] and [±V], first suggested by
Chomsky (1970). The ‘N’ and ‘V’ used in these features obviously do not stand for
noun and verb as these categories are to be defined by these features. However, the
fact that nouns are categorised as being [+N] and verbs as [+V] indicates that these
features are meant to have something to do with these categories. To some extent, it is
irrelevant what the features ‘mean’. The important point is which categories share
which features and hence have something in common and which have different
features and hence are distinguished. From this perspective we could have used
features such as [±1] and [±2].
Consider now the intuition that nouns and verbs are diametrically opposed
categories. We can account for this if we assume that they have exactly the opposite
features to each other. We have said that nouns are categorised as a [+N] category and
so verbs must be [–N] if we are to maintain that they oppose nouns. Similarly, as verbs
are [+V], nouns must be [–V]. We therefore categorise nouns and verbs as the
following:
(24) nouns = [–F, +N, –V]
verbs = [–F, –N, +V]
Note, both nouns and verbs are thematic categories and hence they share the [–F]
feature, but in every other way they differ.
How can we capture the sense that determiners have something in common with
nouns and modal auxiliary verbs have something in common with verbs, even though
one of these pairs of elements is function and the other is thematic? The answer is
fairly easy. The pairs may differ in terms of the [±F] feature, but they are similar in
terms of the [±N] and [±V] features:
(25) determiners =
modals
=
[+F, +N, –V]
[+F, –N, +V]
In other words, determiners are the functional equivalents to nouns and modals are
functional verbs.
To develop the system a little further, consider the intuitions that adjectives seem
to have something in common with nouns, as they are typically used to modify nouns,
as in crazy kid or thoughtful suggestion, but they also seem to have something in
common with verbs, as they have certain distributional properties in common:
(26) a Rick is
b the
rich
running
rich
robber
running
In this example, rich is an adjective and running is a verb and obviously they can both
appear in similar environments. But if nouns and verbs are diametrically opposed to
each other, how can adjectives be similar to both? The answer is that adjectives share
different features with both nouns and verbs. Thus, we may categorise both nouns and
adjectives as [+N] and both verbs and adjectives as [+V] and in this way adjectives
will share features with both nouns and verbs. Of course, they will also have features
different from nouns and verbs, but as we do not want to categorise adjectives as the
12
A Typology of Word Categories
same as the other categories, this is a positive aspect of this proposal. Adjectives can
therefore be categorised as:
(27) adjectives =
[–F, +N, +V]
Having demonstrated that we can capture similarities and differences between
word categories using binary features, let us turn to the issue of what categories there
are. We will start this discussion by considering the two binary features [±N] and
[±V]. So far we have shown how combinations of these features can be used to define
nouns, verbs and adjectives. The two binary features can be combined in four possible
ways, however, and hence there is one possible combination that we have yet to
associate with a category. This is demonstrated by the following table:
(28)
V
+
–
+
adjective
noun
N
–
verb
?
This is fortunate as there is one more thematic category left to be included into the
system: the prepositions. Thus we can claim that prepositions fill this slot:
(29)
prepositions =
[–F, –N, –V]
However, this cannot be put down to good fortune. After all, categorising elements in
terms of these features has consequences concerning what other categories are related
to or different from these elements. Note that the feature combination in (29) predicts
that while prepositions differ from nouns in that they are [–N], they are similar to
nouns in that they are [–V]. Similarly, prepositions differ from verbs in being [–V], but
they share the [–N] feature with them. Thus prepositions are predicted to be similar to
nouns and verbs, but in a different way to how adjectives are similar to these
categories. Indeed, while prepositions do not have similar distribution patterns as
verbs, as do adjectives, they share another property with verbs. Consider the following
observations:
(30) a
b
c
d
see him
to him
*portrait him
*mindful him
(portrait of him)
(mindful of him)
In (30), we see that both verbs (see) and prepositions (to) can be followed by a word
such as him, which is a pronoun. Nouns (portrait) and adjectives (mindful) cannot. We
might claim therefore that the ability to be followed by a pronoun is restricted to the [–
N] categories. Now consider the following:
(31) a
b
c
d
it was Sally that Sam saw
it was underneath that I found the treasure
*it was stupid that Steve seemed
*it was fishing that Fred went
As shown in (31), a noun like Sally and a preposition such as underneath can sit in the
position between the words was and that in this English construction, known as a cleft
13
Chapter 1 - Grammatical Foundations: Words
construction. However, an adjective (stupid) and a verb (fishing) cannot occupy this
position. We might claim therefore that this position can only be occupied by [–V]
categories.
We see from the discussion above the predictive power of the system that we have
set up: the system predicted that there should be a fourth thematic category that has
certain properties and these fit the category of prepositions very well. We can take this
as evidence in favour of this system of features. What else does the system predict? It
is clearly predicted that if we add a third binary feature to the two we have just been
discussing, then a further four categories will be defined. This again matches perfectly
with the description of categories we started this section with, as seen in (23). With the
third feature, [±F], there should be four functional categories which match the four
thematic categories in terms of their feature settings for [±N] and [±V]. We have
already seen how determiners and modals can be analysed as functional nouns and
functional verbs, respectively. The expectation is that degree adverbs, such as so and
too, and complementisers, such as that and if, should be related to adjectives and
prepositions in the same way. As degree adverbs modify adjectives in a very similar
way to how determiners modify nouns, it is not difficult to conclude that degree
adverbs are functional adjectives. This leaves complementisers to fill the final place as
functional prepositions. There is evidence in favour of this assumption, but it rests on
notions not yet introduced, so we will have to wait until later to demonstrate it.
We can re-draw the typology given in (23) using the three features in the following way:
(32)
Words
–F
+F
–N,+V +N,–V +N,+V –N,–V
(verb) (noun) (adj.) (prep.)
–N,+V +N,–V +N,+V –N,–V
(infl) (det) (deg) (comp)
A further advantage of this system is that it places restrictions on what categories
we can suppose to exist, hence increasing its explanatory power. For example, we
would not be entitled to come up with an extra category without destroying the system
developed. One way to add extra possible categories within the system would be to
declare another binary feature. But this would not allow the addition of one extra
category, but a further eight! Moreover, these extra categories would have to be shown
to be related and opposed to the existing categories in the same way that these are
related and opposed to each other.
Another way to extend the system, which we will be making some use of, relies on
the notion of underspecification of features. All the categories discussed above are fully
specified for all the features, so each is associated with a plus or minus value for all three
features. Underspecification is a situation in which one or more features is not specified
for its value. Thus, we might propose a new category [+N, –V] which is not specified for
the [±F] feature. This category would then be a noun which is neither functional, nor
thematic. We will see that there is evidence that the [±F] feature can be left
underspecified and hence there are a further four ‘non-functional’ categories. We will
introduce these categories in the following sections. The important point for the moment
is that the system of features restricts our ability to invent new categories ‘willy-nilly’.
14
A Typology of Word Categories
3.2
Predicates and arguments
To understand the difference between thematic and functional categories we first need
to introduce concepts to do with how the elements of a sentence can be related to each
other. Take a simple sentence:
(33)
Peter chased Mary
This sentence describes an event which can be described as ‘chasing’ involving two
individuals, Peter and Mary, related in a particular way. Specifically, Peter is the one
doing the chasing and Mary is the one getting chased. The verb describes the character
of the event and the two nouns refer to the participants in it. A word which functions
as the verb does here, we call a predicate and words which function as the nouns do
are called arguments. Here are some other predicates and arguments:
(34) a
Selena slept
argument predicate
b Tom
is tall
argument predicate
c Percy placed the penguin on the podium
argument predicate argument
argument
In (34a) we have a ‘sleeping’ event referred to involving one person, Selena, who was
doing the sleeping. In (34b) the predicate describes a state of affairs, that of ‘being tall’
and again there is one argument involved, Tom, of whom the state is said to hold.
Finally, in (34c) there is a ‘placing’ event described, involving three things: someone
doing the placing, Percy, something that gets placed, the penguin, and a place where it
gets placed, on the podium.
What arguments are involved in any situation is determined by the meaning of the
predicate. Sleeping can only involve one argument, whereas placing naturally involves
three. We can distinguish predicates in terms of how many arguments they involve:
sleep is a one-place predicate, see is a two-place predicate involving two arguments
and place is a three-place predicate.
Moreover, the nature of the arguments is also largely determined by the meaning of
the predicate. Compare the following:
(35) a Harold hit Henry
b Sam saw Simon
In the first case, Harold is the one doing the hitting and Henry is the one getting hit
whereas in the second Sam does the seeing and Simon gets seen. However, these
arguments play very different roles in the two events. With hit the one doing the
hitting consciously performs an action and the one who gets hit is affected in some
way by this. We call an argument who deliberately performs an action an agent and
one who or which is acted upon a patient. With see, the arguments are not interpreted
as agent and patient however: Sam is not performing any action and Simon is not
getting acted upon in (35b). Instead, we call these arguments experiencer, for the one
who does the seeing, and theme, for the one who gets seen. Collectively, we call terms
such as agent and patient, thematic roles, or -roles for short. I will not provide a
definitive list of possible theta roles and their definitions here as such a list does not
15
Chapter 1 - Grammatical Foundations: Words
exist. Different linguists tend to make use of different -roles and there is very little
agreement amongst them. Fortunately, the identity of -roles has very little bearing on
most syntactic processes and we can get a long way without precise definitions
(exercise 3 introduces a wider list of -roles than given here).
Given that the meaning of a predicate which determines the nature of the
arguments is a lexical property, the -roles that it determines must also be part of its
lexical entry. We call the part of a predicate’s lexical entry which informs us about
which -roles the predicate has its theta-grid, and this may be represented as follows:
(36)
sleep
hit
see
place
-grid:
-grid:
-grid:
-grid:
<agent>
<agent, patient>
<experiencer, theme>
<agent, patient, location>
(36) clearly represents that sleep is a one-place predicate, hit and see are two-place
predicates and place is a three-place predicate.
So far we have mostly spoken of predicates that happen to be verbs, but it is not the
case that all predicates are verbs. We have seen one case where this was not so, in
(34b). Here we said the predicate was is tall. However considering the meaning of
Tom is tall, we can see that the main semantic relations exist between Tom and tall and
the is part simply expresses that Tom’s being tall is true at the present time (compare
this with Tom was tall). Thus, we might claim that tall, which is an adjective also has a
-role as part of its lexical entry:
(37)
tall
-grid:
<theme>
Just like verbs, some adjectives express a relationship between two arguments:
(38) a Fred is fond of Fiona
b Kevin is keen on karate
In these examples we see two arguments being related by an adjective: Fred is the one
who is ‘fond’ and Fiona is the one who he is ‘fond of’, etc. Thus we have the
following lexical entries:
(39)
fond
keen
-grid: <experiencer, theme>
-grid: <experiencer, theme>
Nouns, too, can be used as predicates:
(40)
Peter is a postman
And again, nouns can be used to express relationships between two or more
arguments:
(41)
Picasso’s painting of petunias
In this example, Picasso may be interpreted either as the possessor of the painting, or
the agent who did the painting, while petunias constitutes the subject matter of the
painting. We will consider the thematic status of the possessor in a subsequent section,
but for now we will ignore the issue and suppose a lexical entry as follows:
(42)
painting -grid: <agent, theme>
16
A Typology of Word Categories
It should be pointed out, however, that nouns tend not to have such a strong
relationship to their arguments as verbs do. Often a noun can be used without any
mention of its arguments:
(43) a
b
c
d
this is Picasso’s painting of petunias
this is Picasso’s painting
this is a painting of petunias
this is a painting
We might therefore state that the arguments of nouns are optionally represented in an
expression and indicate their optionality in the lexical entry by placing the elements of
the -grid in brackets:
Note: Round brackets around an
(44)
painting -grid: <(agent), (theme)>
element means that that element
is optional.
To complete the picture, it should also be pointed out that Prepositions too can act
as predicates:
(45)
the house is on the hill
In this example, the arguments the house and the hill are related by a relation
expressed by the preposition on. Thus we can propose the following lexical entry for
this preposition:
(46)
on
-grid:
<theme, location>
With reference to the categorial features introduced in the preceding section, note
that it is the [–F] categories that can have -grids. [+F] categories, as we will see
below, are not specified in their lexical entries for these.
3.3
Grammatical aspects of meaning
Consider the following bracketed sentence:
(47)
I think [that Mary may marry Martin]
The predicate here is the verb marry and the arguments are Mary and Martin. Let us
call the part of meaning expressed by a predicate and its arguments the basic
proposition. But what role do the other words, may and that, have in the sentence?
Clearly, they have no role in the basic proposition, being neither predicates nor
arguments. But they do carry some meaning. May is a modal auxiliary verb and in
this sentence it either expresses that the event described by the predicate and its
arguments (Mary marrying Martin) is a possibility or that permission has been given
for it to take place:
(48) a Mary may marry Martin – but it’s not sure that she will.
b Mary may marry Martin – his mum will allow it.
The kind of meaning we are talking of here is known as the modality of the sentence
and thus auxiliary verbs like may, can, should, etc. express modality.
That is a complementiser and its meaning is a little more difficult to determine.
We can see its meaning if we compare (47) to (49):
17
Chapter 1 - Grammatical Foundations: Words
(49)
I asked [if Mary may marry Martin]
In the bracketed sentence here, the complementiser is if and we can see that the
difference between this and the previous case is that here the sentence is interpreted as
a question, not a statement as previously. The sentence beginning with that is
declarative and the one beginning with if is interrogative. Given that the only
difference between the two is the complementiser, it seems reasonable to assume that
this is what the complementiser contributes to the meaning of the sentence. The
distinction between declarative and interrogative is known as the force of the sentence
and hence complementisers contribute to this aspect of sentence meaning.
Functional categories, such as modal auxiliaries and complementisers are specified
for the [+F] and a distinguishing property of these categories is that they are not
involved with the assignment of -roles. They therefore lack -grids in their lexical
entries.
Having established this major division we will now proceed to investigate the
individual categories.
3.4
The Thematic categories
Let us focus our attention first on the thematic ([–F]) categories, returning to the
functional ([+F]) categories towards the end of the chapter. Much of our discussion so
far has concerned verbs. This perhaps reflects their centrality in many sentences, being
typical predicates. It also seems that notions such as predicate and argument are more
obviously expressed in relation to verbs. So it is right to start our discussion of
categories with them.
3.4.1 Verbs
Verbs, as discussed above, are categorised as [–F, –N, +V] elements. In this section we
will introduce a number of properties peculiar to this category.
We have already seen that verbs take morphemes which express tense:
(50)
smiled/smiles
reached/reaches
required/requires
etc.
The different forms of a word are known as its inflections and we say that verbs
inflect for tense in that different forms represent tense distinctions. As discussed
earlier, not all inflectional forms are regular and, especially in the past tense, we have
irregular forms:
(51)
sink – sank
think – thought
hit – hit
etc.
We are not so much concerned with morphological or phonetic form in this book, so
we can think of these past tense verbs as abstractly being a stem, i.e. the lexical verb,
plus a past tense morpheme which we will represent as -ed though obviously this is not
supposed to indicate a pronunciation:
18
A Typology of Word Categories
(52)
sink+ed (= sank)
think+ed (= thought)
hit+ed
(= hit)
Virtually all verbs have a past tense form, with only a handful of very exceptional
cases, such as lightening used as a verb, which can only appear in this ing form:
(53) a it is lightening
b *it lightens
c *it lightened
The present tense inflection is slightly different to the past tense one. Compare the
examples in the following:
(54) a
b
c
d
e
Charlie chopped the cheese
I chopped the cheese
you chopped the cheese
they chopped the cheese
etc.
(55) a
b
c
d
e
Charlie chops the cheese
I chop∅ the cheese
you chop∅ the cheese
they chop∅ the cheese
etc.
In (54) the verb has the same past tense inflection in all permutations of the sentence,
but in (55) there is a difference between the first example and all the others. This
corresponds to the fact that the argument which precedes the verb in the first case is
third person and singular and in all other cases this argument is either plural or first or
second person (I or you). This argument is called the subject and we will discuss its
nature and properties in the next chapter. For now we will simply use the term to refer
to the argument in front of the verb without further discussion. The morphological
phenomenon shown in (55) is known as agreement. We say that the verb agrees with
certain features (number and person) of the subject (later on, we will see that it is the
inflection that agrees with the subject and that this is independent of the verb). English
does not demonstrate much in the way of agreement inflection. For the vast majority of
verbs it is only in the present tense and with a third person singular argument that the
verb has an agreement form. The exception is the verb to be, for which there are three
present tense forms (first person singular, third person singular and the rest) and two
past tense forms (first and third person singular and the rest):
(56) a I am ready
b he is ready
c you/we/they are ready
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Chapter 1 - Grammatical Foundations: Words
(57) a
c
d
e
I was ready
he was ready
you were ready
they were ready
Some languages show a good deal more agreement phenomena than English. Consider
the Hungarian paradigm:
(58) a én vágom a sajtot
I cut
the cheese
b te vágod a sajtot
you …
c vágja a sajtot
he/she ...
d mi vágjuk a sajtot
we ...
e ti vágjátok a sajtot
you (pl.) ...
f k vágják a sajtot
they ...
(59) a
b
c
d
e
f
én vágtam a sajtot
te vágtad a sajtot
vágta a sajtot
mi vágtuk a sajtot
ti vágtátok a sajtot
k vágták a sajtot
The English verb has other inflectional forms expressing things other than tense.
For example there are perfect and progressive aspectual forms:
(60)
past
went
drove
hoped
put
perfect
has gone
has driven
has hoped
has put
progressive
is going
is driving
is hoping
is putting
While tense typically places an event in time, aspect refers to the process of the event
itself: whether it has stopped or is still going on, for example. Perfect aspect often
denotes that an event has finished while progressive denotes that it is still continuing:
(61) a I have read the book (but I’m not doing it now)
b I am reading the book (it’s still going on)
As we can see from the ‘perfect’ column in (51), there is also a good deal of
irregularity with this inflectional form. As before, we will envisage this as an abstract
process in which a verbal stem and a morpheme are combined:
20
A Typology of Word Categories
(62)
go+en
drive+en
hope+en
put+en
(= gone)
(= driven)
(= hoped)
(= put)
The progressive aspect is fortunately more regular and, in fact, it is always formed by
adding ing to the stem. Finally, verbs have a passive form as well. This is always
identical to the perfective however:
(63) a he had driven the car
b he had hoped to leave
c he had put his trousers on
the car was driven down the road
it was hoped that he would leave
his trousers were put on
To summarise, there are five forms in which an English verb can appear: the base
form (uninflected), the past tense form, the third person singular present form, the
perfective (and passive) form and the progressive form.
(64)
base
past
3.s.present
see
say
stop
strew
saw
said
stopped
strewed
sees
says
stops
strews
perfective/
passive
seen
said
stopped
strewn
progressive
seeing
saying
stopping
strewing
Any word which inflects in this way will be a verb.
We cannot properly address the issue of the distribution of word categories until
we have introduced the organising principles of English sentences, to which we turn in
the following chapter. However, the issue of the subcategorisation of verbs, which has
a role in determining verb distribution patterns, can be discussed here. Recall from
above that we pointed out that different verbs seem to be able to be followed by
different things:
(65) a the villain laughed
b the hero defeated the villain
(66) a *the villain laughed the city
b *the hero defeated
To some extent, this is connected to the properties of the verb as a predicate: laugh is a
one-place predicate and its only argument, an agent, tends to precede it, while defeat is
a two-place predicate and takes its agent to the left and the patient to the right. If we
consider a three-place predicate, a pattern begins to emerge:
(67)
the mayor gave the hero a reward
In this case, one of the arguments appears to the left and the others are on the right. It
seems that there is always one argument on the left and any other argument must
follow the verb. We call the arguments which follow the verb the verb’s
complements. It appears that there is a special relationship that holds between a verb
and its complements. Consider the following:
21
Chapter 1 - Grammatical Foundations: Words
(68) a the villain awaited his trial
b the villain waited for his trial
(69) a *the villain awaited for his trial
b *the villain waited his trial
What we see by these examples is that different verbs are followed by different
complements. The verb await must be followed by a nominal complement (i.e. one
expressed with a noun: his trial) whereas the verb wait must be followed by a
prepositional complement (expressed with a preposition: for his trial). Although there
is often a connection between the thematic interpretation of the complement argument
and its category, patients tend to be nominal and locations tend to be expressed by
prepositional complements for example, it is not always possible to predict the
category of the complement from its thematic role. In (68) for example, the two
complements seem to be interpreted fairly similarly, but still they are expressed by
complements of different categorial statuses. It follows that the category of the
complement should be stated as a separate piece of information in a verb’s lexical
entry:
(70)
await
wait
category: [–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <agent, goal>
subcat:
[nominal]
category: [–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <agent, goal>
subcat:
[prepositional]
What is represented in these lexical entries is that the two verbs are both two-place
predicates taking agent and goal (something that an action is directed towards)
arguments, but that the goal of await must be nominal while that of wait must be
prepositional. The part of the lexical entry that states the categorial status of the
complement is known as a subcategorisation frame. Thus a lexical entry for a typical
verb will consist of a theta-grid and a subcategorisation frame in addition to
phonological and semantic information.
Traditionally, verbs which have nominal complements are called transitive and
those without intransitive. The verb await is a transitive verb and wait is intransitive.
However, another kind of intransitive verb has no complement at all:
(71) a the villain laughed
b the dragon flew
c Susan slept
These verbs are one-place predicates with their arguments on the left. Their lexical
entries might be represented as follows:
(72)
laugh
category: [–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <agent>
subcat:
[∅]
22
A Typology of Word Categories
fly
sleep
category: [–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <agent>
subcat:
[∅]
category: [–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <agent>
subcat:
[∅]
Because these verbs have no complements, their subcategorisation frames are empty
(as indicated by the ‘null symbol’ ∅, which typically stands for the absence of
content). These verbs obviously differ from those such as wait which have non-null
subcategorisation frames. We might distinguish between the two types by referring to
those in (72) as true intransitives and those such as wait as being prepositional verbs.
Various types of transitive verbs can also be distinguished. For example there are
those which take one nominal complement and those which take two:
(73) a the hero fought the dragon
b the king gave the hero half the kingdom
The traditional term for verbs with two nominal complements is ditransitive. We can
represent the lexical entries for these verbs as follows:
(74)
fight
give
category: [–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <agent, patient>
subcat:
[nominal]
category: [–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <agent, goal,
theme>
subcat:
[nominal, nominal]
A further type takes both a nominal and a prepositional complement, known as
complex transitive verbs:
(75) a Percy placed the penguin on the podium
b place category: [–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <agent, theme,
location>
subcat:
[nominal, prepositional]
Other verbs take adjectival or adverbial complements:
(76) a the judge looked mean
b look
category: [–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <theme, attribute>
subcat:
[adjectival]
(77) a the pianist performed passionately
b perform category: [–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <agent, manner>
subcat:
[adverbial]
Finally, there are verbs which are often traditionally called transitives, but which
do not have a nominal complement at all. These verbs take sentences as their
complements.
23
Chapter 1 - Grammatical Foundations: Words
(78) a Larry left
= sentence
b Theodore thinks Larry left
From a semantic point of view, these verbs take a proposition as their complement and
this obviously is expressed as a sentence. We might therefore suppose a lexical entry
such as the following:
(79)
think
category: [–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <experiencer, proposition>
subcat:
[sentence]
There is no traditional term specifically for predicates with sentential complements,
but generative grammar has not felt the need to invent one as the subcategorisation
frame serves to distinguish between the different subcategories of verbs.
3.4.2 Nouns
The next category we will discuss is the noun, which we categorised as bearing the
features [–F, +N, –V] above. With verbs, they share the property that they have grids as part of their lexical entries, being [–F] categories. But they are distinguished
from verbs on the other two features and hence do not share many other properties.
From a morphological point of view, nouns are less varied than verbs, having just
two forms, singular and plural:
(80)
dog
pass
mouse
buffalo
cherub
dogs
passes
mice
buffalo
cherubim
Like verbs there is a fair amount of deviation from the regular morphological
representation of the plural [s]. Again, we will ignore the morphological irregularities
and treat these forms as being syntactically stem + plural:
(81)
dog + s
pass + s
mouse + s
buffalo + s
cherub + s
= dogs
= passes
= mice
= buffalo
= cherubim
Besides morphological irregularity, there are also a number of problematic cases.
Some nouns express concepts for which number distinctions are not normally made.
For example, sand refers to stuff that naturally comes in a quantity for which the
division into ‘one’ (singular) and ‘more than one’ (plural) is not particularly natural.
Nouns which naturally accommodate this distinction are known as count nouns and
those that do not are called mass nouns. If we wish to individuate mass nouns, we
usually do this in terms of another noun which names a unit of what the mass noun
refers to and put this into a more complicated construction, known as the partitive:
(82) a three grains of sand
b seven loaves of bread
c two cups of tea
24
A Typology of Word Categories
Thus, it is not typical to find plural forms of mass nouns, though, of course, this does
not mean that they should not be considered as nouns. As a matter of fact, plural forms
of mass nouns do exist, though their uses tend to be rather specialised:
(83) a the sands of time
b the seven seas
c the breads that we bake
Typically, the plural forms of mass nouns tend to refer to different collections of what
the nouns refer to. Take (83c) for example. Here the plural noun breads refers to
various types of bread: cottage loaves, whole meal bread, rye bread, baguettes, etc.
Another class of nouns for which the plural form is not entirely natural is the
proper nouns, i.e. names. Again, there is probably a semantic reason for this: names
name individuals and individuals come in ones. Once again it is possible to find proper
nouns used in the plural with the right semantic context:
(84) a the two Ronnies (British comedy series of the 1970s)
b the Smiths will be visiting next week
c there are no Einsteins in this class
In the first case, the plural proper noun is used because it refers to two individuals who
happen to have the same name (Ronny Corbet and Ronny Barker in this instance). In
the second, the family name Smith is used in the plural to refer to the collective set of
individuals of that family and in the third case the name Einstein is not used as a name
at all, but as a word to describe an individual with certain properties (high intelligence
in this case).
Exactly the opposite problem is caused by examples such as scissors and trousers,
which appear to be nouns which lack a singular form (*scissor, *trouser). This might
be more of a semantic problem rather than a grammatical one however, as the objects
to which these words refer are inherently plural in some respect: scissors have two
blades and trousers have two legs. Moreover, without this plural aspect to the meaning,
the object ceases to be describable in the same way: something with one blade cannot
be described as scissors (or scissor for that matter) and something with one leg is not
trousers (nor trouser). Again, it is possible to find the singular form of such words
used, though in very limited contexts. When two nouns are put together to form a
single compound noun, the preceding noun must be in its singular form:
(85)
armchair
doorframe
schoolboy
*armschair
*doorsframe
*schoolsboy
(There are some exceptions, e.g. dogsbody.) Note this restriction holds whether or not
the plural form would be more appropriate semantically, as is the case with armchair
which tend to have more than one arm! When an inherently plural noun is used as the
first noun in a compound, it too appears in its singular form:
(86)
scissor-kick
trouser-press
spectacle-case
*scissors-kick
*trousers-press
*spectacles-case
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Chapter 1 - Grammatical Foundations: Words
In general then, it seems that nouns are a fairly well behaved category and that even
for the more problematic cases morphologically distinct forms for singular and plural
can be found.
Turning to the distribution of nouns, as with verbs a proper treatment of this will be
possible later in this chapter, though we can once again talk about subcategories of
noun. Nouns subcategorise in exactly the same way that verbs do, in terms of
restrictions placed on the possible categories of their complements. Just as with verbs,
the complement of the noun follows it. The similarity between noun complements and
verb complements can best be seen by comparing the behaviour of nouns that have
been derived from verbs with these verbs:
(87) a
b
c
d
e
he waited for the letter
he believed in Father Christmas
he fought with the dragon
I expect that he left
they detonated the bomb
his wait for the letter
his belief in Father Christmas
his fight with the dragon
my expectation that he left
their detonation of the bomb
As seems clear, most nouns that are formed from verbs take exactly the same
complements as the original verb does. The one difference can be seen in (87e) where
the verb takes a nominal complement while the noun takes a prepositional one. Note
that the verb and its complement express exactly the same relationship as the noun and
its complement: in both cases it is ‘the bomb’ that gets detonated. Thus, the
preposition of in the case of the noun complement does not seem to add anything of a
semantic nature. Moreover, this is an entirely regular process – any verb that has a
nominal complement will take a prepositional complement (with of) when it is formed
into a noun:
(88)
construct a house
destroy his confidence
observe the reaction
peruse the index
construction of a house
destruction of his confidence
observation of the reaction
perusal of the index
Indeed, there are no nouns that take following nominal complements, even ones that
are not formed from verbs:
(89)
a book of magic
a plague of flies
a case of mismanagement
a cup of tea
*a book magic
*a plague flies
*a case mismanagement
*a cup tea
For some reason then, it seems that the whole class of nouns fails to have nominal
complements and thus they differ from verbs in this way (we will see later on in this
book there is an explanation for this observation). However, other than this, nouns can
take any other kind of complement and as such we can propose that they subcategorise
in the same way as verbs do, by the inclusion of a subcategorisation frame in their
lexical entries.
This inability to take nominal complements is something nouns share with
adjectives, as we shall see. Verbs pattern with prepositions in this respect. Thus we can
claim that whatever property it is that allows verbs and prepositions to take nominal
26
A Typology of Word Categories
complements, it is connected to the [–N] feature that they both share. The [+N]
categories (nouns and adjectives) obviously lack this property.
It is clear from the examples given above that nouns formed from verbs have
arguments in the same way that those verbs do: the noun wait may express the
relationship between someone who is waiting and what they are waiting for. The
argument that comes to the left of the verb is typically expressed by the possessor of
the derived noun (his and my and their in (87)). In other instances, however, the
possessor simply names the one who possesses the noun. The difference is made clear
in the two interpretations of the following:
(90)
Ken’s construction of a kite
This can be interpreted either as something that Ken did (he constructed a kite) or
something that he possesses (the kite is his). Obviously the possessive interpretation is
only available for the case of the noun, the related verb cannot have a possessive
argument:
(91)
Ken constructed a kite
In this example, Ken can only be interpreted as agent. The question arises as to
whether the possessor is another thematic argument which nouns can have, in addition
to agents, patients, themes, goals, etc., or whether it is something of a different nature.
There is reason to believe that the possessor is not the same kind of element as a
thematic argument. One thing that differentiates possessors from other arguments is
that the possessor may appear with almost any noun and does not appear to be
determined by the noun’s meaning:
(92) a
b
c
d
my music
your drawing
his organisation
our plans
(e.g. the CDs that I own)
(the one on your wall)
(the one that belongs to him)
(the bits of paper that we have)
Of course there are things named by nouns that cannot be possessed in this way:
(93)
Emily’s embarrassment
In this example, Emily has to be interpreted as the one who experiences the
embarrassment rather than someone who possesses it outside of their emotions. But
this is a general semantic fact: some things can be possessed and other things cannot.
The fact remains, however, that of those things that are able to be possessed, the
relationship between them and the possessor is uniform and is not affected by the
meaning of the noun. This is very different from other argument–predicate
relationships:
(94) a
b
c
d
he wriggled
he arrived
he embarrasses easily
he attracts criticism
(he = agent)
(he = theme)
(he = experiencer)
(he = goal)
27
Chapter 1 - Grammatical Foundations: Words
Another difference between the possessor and arguments is that the semantic
relationship that possessors express is rather vague in relation to those expressed by
arguments. Consider the following:
(95)
Shufflebotham’s sheep
The relationship between Shufflebotham and the sheep could be almost anything,
ranging from ownership to something far more distant such as the sheep that
Shufflebotham selected in a sheep of the year contest. Thematic arguments, on the
other hand, have very definite interpretations: an agent is someone who consciously
performs an action and cannot be interpreted as anything else.
A final difference between possessors and arguments is that the possessor
relationship is restricted to nouns whereas thematic relationships seem to be available
to all thematic categories: we can find themes, experiencers, etc. for verbs, nouns or
adjectives.
For these reasons, therefore, we will not consider the possessor to be a thematic
role included in the lexical entry of the nouns, but something that can be added to any
compatible noun. Below we can see some example lexical entries for nouns:
(96)
category:
-grid:
subcat:
belief
category:
-grid:
subcat:
fight
category:
-grid:
subcat:
expectation category:
-grid:
subcat:
plague
category:
-grid:
subcat:
cat
category:
-grid:
subcat:
wait
[–F, +N, –V]
<agent,
goal>
[prepositional]
[–F, +N, –V]
<experiencer, theme>
[prepositional]
[–F, +N, –V]
<agent,
theme>
[prepositional]
[–F, +N, –V]
<experiencer, proposition>
[sentential]
[–F, +N, –V]
<theme>
[prepositional]
[–F, +N, –V]
<∅>
[∅]
3.4.3 Adjectives
We now turn to the [–F, +N, +V] category: adjectives. As their categorial features
suggest they share properties with both nouns and verbs, though obviously differ from
both.
Adjectives tend to describe states, properties or attributes of things, though as
usual, one needs to be careful with semantic definitions of syntactic categories. This
category tends to be used in one of two ways; either as a modifier of a noun or as a
predicate in a sentence:
(97) a a stupid man
b the man was stupid
28
A Typology of Word Categories
This observation, however, will also require modification once we start to consider
adverbs and their relationship to adjectives.
The morphology of adjectives is an interesting area, though slightly more complex
than that of verbs and nouns. There are three main adjectival morphemes which we
might use to identify members of the category. First, many adjectives have three
distinct forms relating to the straightforward adjective (traditionally called the positive
form), the situation in which two elements are compared with respect to the property
expressed by the adjective (the comparative form) and the situation in which more
than two elements are compared (the superlative form):
(98)
positive:
comparative
superlative
tall
taller
tallest
sure
surer
surest
clever
cleverer
cleverest
Although there are few irregular adjectival inflections for comparative and
superlative (many – more – most, good – better – best, far – further – furthest being
obvious examples), there are a number of adjectives which do not take part in this
morphological paradigm at all. One class of adjectives that do not have comparative or
superlative forms are those which cannot be used for the basis of comparison from a
semantic point of view. Obviously, the notion of comparison involves properties that
can be graded into more or less: the property long, for example, covers a whole range
of lengths, some longer some shorter. A long piece of string could be anything
between, say 1 metre and infinitely long. We can therefore compare two elements in
terms of their lengths and determine that one is longer than the other. Some adjectives
however, do not express properties that can form the basis of comparison: some states
such as being dead or being married are absolute or ungradable, so someone cannot
be more dead or more married than someone else. Clearly ungradable adjectives are
not going to have comparative or superlative forms:
(99)
dead
*deader
*deadest
set
*setter
*settest
married
frozen
*marrieder *frozener
*marriedest *frozenest
plural
*pluraler
*pluralest
In the above cases there is a semantic explanation for the lacking forms. In other
cases however, there are other explanations. Quite a few adjectives are morphologically complex, being derived from nouns or verbs. It seems that morphologically
complex adjectives cannot bear the comparative and superlative morphemes:
(100)
*beautifuler
*Americaner
*fortunater
*edibler
*sunkener
*smilinger
*beautifulest
*Americanest
*fortunatest
*ediblest
*sunkenest
*smilingest
There are, however, certain exceptions to this:
(101)
smoke – smoky – smokier – smokiest
stretch – stretchy – stretchier – stretchiest
friend – friendly – friendlier – friendliest
29
Chapter 1 - Grammatical Foundations: Words
It seems that adjectives formed with either ‘-y’ or ‘-ly’ are able to take ‘-er’ and ‘-est’.
However, unlike the case of the ungradable adjectives, we can express comparative
and superlative notions with morphologically complex adjectives using degree adverbs
more and most:
(102)
more beautiful
more American
more fortunate
more edible
more sunken
more smiling
most beautiful
most American
most fortunate
most edible
most sunken
most smiling
These are known as the periphrastic comparative and superlative constructions as
opposed to the inflectional ones. Often it is the case that adjectives participate in either
one or the other of these constructions, though there are some adjectives that can
appear with both:
(103)
bigger
*more big
*reliabler more reliable
wiser
more wise
We need not go into this any further. The main point that concerns us here is that
the less productive nature of these adjectival morphemes makes them less reliable as a
test for adjectival status than we have seen in the case of verbs and nouns. Obviously,
if a word can appear in a comparative or superlative form, it is an adjective, but failure
to do so cannot automatically lead us to a negative conclusion.
Another morpheme closely associated with adjectives is -ly. This is used with a
large number of adjectives to form adverbs:
(104)
nice
brave
black
erroneous
nicely
bravely
blackly
erroneously
There is some debate about the status of this morpheme which revolves around the
central issue of our present discussion. On the one hand, -ly might be taken as a
derivational morpheme which is applied to a lexical item of one category to derive
another lexical item of another category. This would be similar to morphemes such as
-er in cook-er, -ic as in scen(e)-ic or -ment in govern-ment. We have not been
concerned with such morphemes so far as they tend to be rather restricted, applying to
certain lexical items of a given category rather than to the category as a whole. There
are, for example, no forms *exister (someone who exists), *viewic (the property of
resembling a nice view) or *rulement (the collective body of people who rule). As we
have been concerned in using morphological observations for identifying categories,
the derivational morphemes would have been only of limited use to us. The important
point about derivational morphology is that it takes place in the lexicon, forming new
lexical elements from others, prior to any grammatical operation. If -ly is a derivational
morpheme, then adverbs are a different category from the adjectives they are derived
from. However, we have no feature analysis for adverbs using the [±F], [±N] and [±V]
30
A Typology of Word Categories
features and as we have pointed out we cannot just introduce a new category into the
system without there being some fairly substantial consequences. If we introduce a
new feature to try to accommodate adverbs, we predict the existence of a further seven
more categories for which we have very little evidence.
However, -ly is strangely productive for a derivational morpheme, applying to
many adjectives, though there are exceptions:
(105)
*bigly
*redly
*fastly
Yet we can explain many of these absent forms. For example, while the form fastly
does not exist, the form fast can be used as both an adjective and an adverb:
(106) a he rode a fast horse
b the horse ran fast
(adjective)
(adverb)
In many ways, then, this is like the missing plural *sheeps or the missing past tense
*putted (as past tense of put, not putt, which is putted). As such fast is just an irregular
adverb. In general, colour adjectives do not tend to form adverbs and the fact that this is
a semantically well-defined class of adjectives indicates that there might be semantic
reasons for it. This is further supported by the fact that colour adjectives that do form -ly
adverbs, such as blackly, do so only if they have meanings that go beyond reference to
the colour: blackly means ‘in a sinister or evil way’ and greenly can mean either
innocently or enviously. Admittedly, the absence of size adverbs like *bigly and *smally
is problematic given the existence of hugely and minutely. But putting this small number
of problematic cases to one side, we can see that the -ly morpheme is a very productive
one, applying to most adjectives. As pointed out above, most derivational morphemes,
being lexical in nature, are not productive and apply only to selected lexical items.
The alternative to viewing -ly as a derivational morpheme it to see it as an
inflectional morpheme. These are morphemes like the ones we have been mainly
concerned with so far. These apply to a lexical word to give back another form of the
same word. So see, sees, saw, seen and seeing are all forms of the same word, not
different words created from a single source as are depart, department, departmental,
departmentalisation. Inflectional morphemes on the whole are a lot more productive
than derivational morphemes (though we have seen a certain degree of irregularity and
exceptions in most of the morphemes we have investigated) and this would seem to fit
better the productive nature of -ly. However, in what sense can an adjective and its
related adverb be considered different forms of the same word, especially if they
belong to different categories? If -ly is an inflectional morpheme, it seems that we
would have to consider adjectives and adverbs to be the same category. There is a
certain amount of evidence in support of this view however. First, note that both
adjectives and adverbs have similar distributions, if we consider their immediate
environment:
(107) a
b
c
d
very fond
as quick as lightning
too happy to notice
so foolish that he believed me
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Chapter 1 - Grammatical Foundations: Words
(108) a
b
c
d
very fondly
as quickly as lightning
too happily to notice
so foolishly that he believed me
We see from these examples that the same kinds of words (very, as, too, so, etc. –
known as degree adverbs) are used to modify both adjectives and adverbs. Such
things cannot be used to modify words of other categories:
(109) a *very smiled
b *too disaster to think about
Thus, it seems that adjectives and adverbs are closely related categories if they are not
the same category. Of course, over a larger domain adjectives and adverbs do not
distribute the same: adjectives tend to modify nouns and adverbs modify verbs or
whole sentences:
(110) a a hot cup of tea
b it was debated hotly
*a hotly cup of tea
*it was debated hot
Yet, if we consider the total set of possible positions for adjectives and adverbs, we
notice that where an adverb can appear an adjective cannot and vice versa. In other
words, the two are in complementary distribution, just like transitive and intransitive
verbs. In the case of verbs we took their complementary distributions to be evidence
that they are of the same category and, therefore, there is no reason why we should not
argue the same here in relation to adjectives and adverbs.
As a further observation, adverbs, like adjectives, can appear in contexts of
comparison and hence in comparative and superlative constructions:
(111)
more beautifully
more fortunately
more smilingly
most beautifully
most fortunately
most smilingly
Adverbs, however, tend not to have comparative or superlative forms:
(112)
cleverer/cleverest
nicer/nicest
smarter/smartest
*cleverlier/cleverliest
*nicelier/niceliest
*smartlier/smartliest
The reason for this is probably because these adverbs are morphologically complex
and as we have seen morphologically complex adjectives tend not to have such forms.
This is supported by the fact that adverbs not formed with the -ly morpheme can have
morphological comparative and superlative forms:
(113) a his horse was running faster than mine
b I arrived sooner than I’d expected
his horse ran fastest
I came the soonest that I could
Interestingly, for adjectives the derivational morpheme -ly does not block the
comparative and superlative morphemes, as we have seen:
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A Typology of Word Categories
(114)
friendly
lovely
manly
friendlier
lovelier
manlier
friendliest
loveliest
manliest
This would seem to suggest that the two morphemes have different statuses and as the
adjectival -ly is clearly a derivational morpheme, we might use this to argue that the
adverb -ly is inflectional.
A final argument for seeing adjectives and adverbs as being of the same category
has to do with the system of categorisation introduced in the preceding section. Above
we pointed out that while verbs are able to take nominal complements, nouns are not.
Adjectives are like nouns in this respect. For example, when we derive an adjective
from a transitive verb, the adjective must take a prepositional complement, not a
nominal one:
(115) a observe the results
b *observant the results
observant of the results
All adjectives are like this, even those not derived from verbs:
(116) a *fond his sister
b *keen crossword puzzles
c *certain the answer
fond of his sister
keen on crossword puzzles
certain of the answer
If we assume that this property is related to the [+N] feature, then we can account for
why nouns and adjectives pattern alike in this respect, as both are [+N] categories.
Note that prepositions and verbs, the [–N] categories, can have nominal complements.
Adverbs behave like nouns and adjectives in not being able to have nominal
complements:
(117) a Mary minds her manners
b *Mary carried out her duties, mindfully her manners
c Mary carried out her duties, mindfully of her manners
We shall see a little later that the question of what complements adverbs can take (and
when) is a complex issue. However, as they never take nominal complements under
any circumstances it is safe to assume that they are, like adjectives and nouns, a [+N]
category. As adverbs are thematic categories they are also [–F] and thus they have
either of the following feature specifications:
(118) a [–F, +N, –V]
b [–F, +N, +V]
The feature set in (118a) is that of nouns and we have no reason to believe that adverbs
are a type of noun. We are therefore left with the feature set (118b), which is that of
adjectives. Hence it seems we are forced to accept that adverbs and adjectives are of
the same category by the system we have devised.
The difference between adjectives and adverbs is in how they are used: a [–F, +N,
+V] category that is used to modify a noun is called an adjective and one that is used
to modify a verb or a sentence is called an adverb. That they often have different forms
is not by itself a problem, as there are certain nominal elements, for example, that have
different forms depending on how they are used:
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Chapter 1 - Grammatical Foundations: Words
(119) a I know him
b he knows me
When a pronoun follows a verb, it has one form and this differs from the form it has
before the verb. We will return to this in more detail in subsequent chapters, but for
now all that is important to note is that these elements have different forms in different
positions, but we do not therefore conclude that they belong to different categories. We
will assume something similar is going on with the [–F, +N, +V] categories and that
adjectival and adverbial forms are different forms of the same category determined by
its use.
Though we will maintain the traditional terms for adjectives and adverbs, as there
has not been a common term developed for them (Radford 1988 has suggested Adjerb
or Advective, but surprisingly they did not catch on!). However, we will use the
general category label A to stand for this whole category.
Finally in this section, we turn to the subcategorisation of adjectives and adverbs.
We start with adjectives as these are the most straightforward. We have already seen
that adjectives, like nouns, cannot take nominal complements. However, all other
possibilities are open to them:
(120) a
b
c
d
Reginald regrets the decision
Harry hopes that it will snow
Rick responded to the treatment
Rebecca rested
Reginald is regretful of the decision
Harry is hopeful that it will snow
Rick is responsive to the treatment
Rebecca felt ill
The lexical entries for these adjectives might therefore be:
(121)
category:
-grid:
subcat:
hopeful
category:
-grid:
subcat:
responsive category:
-grid:
subcat:
ill
category:
-grid:
subcat:
regretful
[–F, +N, +V]
<(experiencer) (theme)>
[prepositional]
[–F, +N, +V]
<(experiencer) (proposition)>
[sentential]
[–F, +N, +V]
<(agent)
(theme)>
[prepositional]
[–F, +N, +V]
<(experiencer)>
[∅]
The arguments of the adjectives are included as optional to allow for their nonpredicative use. When an adjective is used to modify a noun, it does not typically
appear with its arguments:
(122) a
b
c
d
a regretful decision
a hopeful football supporter
a responsive audience
an ill wind
The subcategorisation of adverbs is a rather more tricky issue. One would have
thought that if adverbs are formal variants of the relevant adjective, then they would
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A Typology of Word Categories
subcategorise in the same way as these adjectives – like the present tense verb
subcategorises in the same way as the past tense verb. There are some cases where this
might well be true:
(123) a the newspapers were independent of the government
b the newspapers operated independently of the government
In this example, both the adjective (independent) and the adverb (independently) take the
same prepositional complement. In other cases, however, this does not seem to work:
(124) a he was very fond of his sister
b we were all anxious that the plan should succeed
(125) a *he thought about his visit fondly of his sister
b *we met at the arranged time anxiously that the plan should succeed
These observations raise a number of perplexing questions. Why, for example, do
adjectives and adverbs differ in this way? And why are some cases of adverbs with
complements ok? Comparing (124) with (125) we can see a difference in the functions
of the adjectives and adverbs: whereas the adjectives are functioning as the predicate
of the sentence, the adverb plays a modifying role, modifying the verb in these cases.
It turns out that when adjectives function as modifiers, they also cannot take the
complements that they usually can:
(126) a *a very fond of his sister boy
b *an anxious that the plan should succeed band of pirates
Thus, it turns out that this is not a difference which divides adjectives and adverbs, but
a property that unifies them. Under what circumstance can an adverb have a
complement then? If what we said above is correct, we predict that adverbs can only
take a complement when they do not function as modifiers. This is indeed true in
(123b) where the adverb functions as a complement of the verb. It is quite unusual to
find an adverb in a non-modifying role and, therefore, it is not at all usual to find
adverb with complements.
3.4.4 Prepositions
The last thematic category we will consider is prepositions. The pattern with nouns in
being [–V] and with verbs in being [–N] and therefore do not share any feature with
adjectives, apart from [–F] as they are both thematic.
Morphologically there is very little to say about this category as they tend to be
morphologically simple and do not have inflectional forms. However, this is a property
that we may use to identify an instance of the category: they are the category that do
not have plural, tensed, comparative or superlative forms:
(127)
with
by
to
*withs *withed *wither *withest
*bys
*byed *byer *byest
*tos
*toed *toer
*toest
There are a small number of exceptions to these observations. For example inner
might be claimed to be a comparative form of in, ins is a possible plural (as in ins and
outs) and toing is a progressive based on the preposition to (as in toing and froing).
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Chapter 1 - Grammatical Foundations: Words
But it is obvious that in such cases the stem is not used as a preposition, but as a
member of the appropriate category: in in ins is a noun, not a preposition.
In terms of the subcategorisation of prepositions, they can appear with most types
of complements, including nominal ones:
(128) a it disappeared under the bridge
b it came from under the bridge
c he went out
In (128a) the preposition under takes a nominal complement, demonstrating its [–N]
property, in (128b) from takes a prepositional complement and in (128c) out has no
complement and hence is used ‘intransitively’.
The one complement that prepositions fail to have is clausal. While verbs, nouns
and adjectives can all take clausal complements beginning with the word that, it seems
that this is not possible for prepositions:
(129) a
b
c
d
we said [that we didn’t see the sign]
our knowledge [that we were right]
we were anxious [that you should be told]
*we spoke about [that you left]
It is quite mysterious why this should be, especially given the fact that all other
categories seem to have no trouble in taking such complements. It is even more
mysterious when we notice that prepositions can take certain clausal complements:
(130) a I thought about [whether I should leave a note]
b I haven’t seen him since [we had the argument]
In (130a) the clause is interrogative, functioning as a question, and it seems that
interrogative clauses can be the complements of certain prepositions. (130b) is even
more puzzling as here we have a preposition with a clausal complement without a that.
Typically this word is either optional or
Note:
obligatory with clausal complements:
*(xxx) means that xxx is obligatory
(131) a Theodore thinks [(that) Linda left]
b my observation [*(that) he had a missing shoe]
c I was certain [(that) no one knew about the body under the bed]
It is possible that, given the complementary distribution between words like that and
since, they are of the same category and hence since is not used as a preposition in
(130b). Indeed, we will see, words like that, being complementisers, are analysed as
‘functional prepositions’, given their feature specification [+F, –N, –V]. However, we
will not pursue the issue here.
The following are some examples of the lexical entries of prepositions:
(132)
with
from
category:
-grid:
subcat:
category:
-grid:
subcat:
[–F, –N, –V]
<(theme)
[–F, –N, –V]
<(theme)
36
(location)>
[nominal]
(location)>
[nominal/prepositional]
A Typology of Word Categories
3.5
Functional Categories
It is now time we turned our attention to the second main subdivision of word
categories, the functional categories.
3.5.1 Inflections
The feature bundle [+F, –N, +V] defines a ‘functional verb’. Such an element would
have verbal properties, but no thematic content: it would not be specified for taking
arguments in its lexical entry and hence would have no theta-grid. The most obvious
thing that fits this bill is the class of auxiliary verbs:
(133) a they have gone
b he is shaving
c she can swim
We need to distinguish between two groups of auxiliary verb, however. (133a) and
(133b) involve aspectual auxiliaries (perfective and progressive respectively). (133c)
concerns a modal auxiliary. These two types of auxiliaries differ not only in their
semantic content, but also in their syntactic behaviour. For example, while modal
auxiliaries are in complementary distribution with one another (there can only ever be
one per clause), they are not in complementary distribution with the aspectuals. The
aspectual auxiliaries are also not in complementary distribution with each other:
(134) a
b
c
d
*he can will fly
he may have fallen
he must be hiding
he has been drinking
This distribution pattern would argue that modals occupy a different position to
aspectuals. This position, note, is always in front of all other verbal elements.
Modal auxiliaries are also in complementary distribution with other elements of the
clause. But before we can discuss this, we need to distinguish between two types of
clause. Consider the clauses in brackets in the following:
(135) a I think [that Sam saw me]
b I was anxious [for Sam to see me]
These two clauses express the same thematic content: a seeing relationship holding
between Sam and me. However, they differ in a number of ways. In (135a) the verb is
inflected for tense (past in this case) whereas in (135b) the verb is uninflected and
cannot display tense distinctions:
(136)
*I was anxious [for no one to saw/sees me]
We call sentences with verbs inflected for tense finite clauses and those without, nonfinite clauses. In finite clauses, the nominal element that is in front of the verb, if it is
expressed as a pronoun, has a certain form, but it has another form in non-finite
clauses:
(137) a I think [that he saw me]
b I was anxious [for him to see me]
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Chapter 1 - Grammatical Foundations: Words
This distinction is traditionally called a Case distinction, which has to do with the
forms that certain nominal arguments appear in. In English there are not many Case
distinctions to be seen as it is only the pronouns which have Case forms, but in other
languages there can be more such distinctions made (think of Hungarian János, Jánost,
Jánosnak, etc.). The he form of the pronoun (similarly, she, I, we, they) is called the
nominative case form, while the him form (her, me, us, them) is the accusative case
form. Note, finite clauses must have nominative elements in the relevant position,
whereas, if the position is filled at all in non-finite clauses, it must be by an accusative
element:
(138) a *I think [that him saw me]
b *I was anxious [for he to see me]
We can also see a difference between the clause types in terms of the word that
introduces them, the complementiser. For the finite clause, the complementiser must
be that and for this kind of non-finite clause, the complementiser must be for:
(139) a *I think [for he saw me]
b *I was anxious [that him to see me]
Finally, finite clauses can stand as the main sentence, in which other embedded
sentences can appear. A non-finite clause is always an embedded clause:
(140) a he saw me
b *him to see me
Returning to the modal auxiliaries, note that these can only appear in finite clauses:
(141) a I think [that he could see me]
b *I was anxious [for him to could see me]
There are two points of interest. First, when a modal does appear in a finite clause, the
verb does not appear in its finite (tensed) form:
(142)
*I think [that he could saw me]
Second, the non-finite clause contains an element not found in finite clauses which
appears to occupy the same position as the modal in finite clauses:
(143) a I think [that he could see me]
b I was anxious [for him to see me]
Putting these together, we find that there are three elements here which are in
complementary distribution: modals, the non-finite element to and the finite inflections
on verbs. In any clause, wherever one of these appears, the others cannot:
(144) a I think [that he may leave/*leaves/*to leave]
b I think [that he left/*can left/*to left]
c I was anxious [for him to leave/*must leave/*leaves]
We have spoken about complementary distribution patterns before, concluding that
elements that are in complementary distribution should be analysed as instances of the
same category. If this argument applies here, then modals, finite inflections and the
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A Typology of Word Categories
non-finite element to are to be analysed as of the same category. While this makes
perfect sense for modals and to, as these are words which appear to occupy the same
position in the clause, it seems somewhat odd to claim that the finite inflections belong
to this category. For a start, finite inflections are inflections that appear on the verb,
not independent words themselves. However, there are things which seem to form part
of other things in sentences, but which we might want to claim that at some deeper
level of analysis are independent from them. Consider the status of n’t in negated
auxiliaries such as can’t, won’t, couldn’t, etc. In one sense this element is part of the
auxiliary, but in another sense it is an independent element expressing negation in
exactly the same way that its non-contracted counterpart not does. It would seem
reasonable to suggest that the contracted negative is an independent lexical item, with
its own lexical entry (perhaps even the same one as the non-contracted negation) and
that as such it enters the sentence as a word. Then there are syntactic processes which
combine the auxiliary and negation into a single element:
(145)
he will n’t listen →
he – won’t – listen
It could be argued that the same thing is true of finite inflections: they enter a
sentence as an independent word, but are joined with the verb by some syntactic
process. If this is true, then there would be nothing wrong with treating finite
inflections as the same kind of thing as modal auxiliaries as they could occupy the
same underlying position:
(146)
he –d smile
→
he – smile-d –
One argument in support of this treatment of finite inflections concerns the
difference between inflectional morphemes and derivational morphemes, discussed
above. A derivational morpheme forms a new word from an existent one in the
lexicon. This new word has lexical properties of its own and may even differ in its
meaning from the original word. Furthermore, the process tends to be limited, applying
to a selection of lexical elements rather than to whole classes. Inflectional morphology,
on the other hand, does not change the lexical element, it just provides another form of
that word. Often, it adds some element of meaning (such as tense or plural) to the
meaning of the original word rather than changing the meaning to something else. This
all suggests that the two processes are very different and that derivational morphology
is something that goes on in the lexicon to expand the number of available words.
Inflectional morphology is, on the other hand, too regular to be a lexical process,
applying to whole categories. This would seem to be the hallmark of a syntactic
process not a lexical one. We will assume therefore that verbal morphemes expressing
tense and agreement are independent words inserted into a sentence in their own
position and undergo a subsequent syntactic process which combines them with the
verb that they are attached to.
We, therefore, have a functional category with three main members: modal
auxiliaries, the non-finite to and finite inflections. This category has been called
inflection, sometimes abbreviated to INFL or more usually these days I.
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Chapter 1 - Grammatical Foundations: Words
Given that inflection is a functional category and takes no part in thematic
structure, members of this category do not have theta grids as part of their lexical
entry. Furthermore, their subcategorisation seems to be much simpler than any
thematic category: all inflections are always followed by a verbal element and hence
we might suppose that they all subcategorise for verbal complements:
(147)
will
can
-ed
to
category:
subcat:
category:
subcat:
category:
subcat:
category:
subcat:
[+F, –N, +V]
[verbal]
[+F, –N, +V]
[verbal]
[+F, –N, +V]
[verbal]
[+F, –N, +V]
[verbal]
3.5.2 Determiners
The functional category that is most closely associated with nouns are the determiners
which always precede nominal elements:
(148) a
b
c
d
the party
a snake
this idea of yours
which friend of mine
Determiners may contribute to the interpretation of the nominal in terms of the
notion of definiteness. This has a number of roles to play in interpreting a sentence.
One of these has to do with how we introduce new items into a discourse and how we
maintain a discourse topic. Consider the short monologue below:
(149)
A man walked into a shop. The shopkeeper greeted the man.
In the first sentence, we introduce the main aspects of the story: the man and the
‘shop’ situation. In this sentence the two nouns man and shop are preceded by the
determiner a. This is the indefinite article and one of its functions is to signal new
information that has not been mentioned previously. In the next sentence we have two
more nouns shopkeeper and man (again). This time they are preceded by the
determiner the, which is the definite article. Its function is to indicate information
which has already been given and, therefore, to connect a series of sentences as being
about the same thing. Thus, the shopkeeper is assumed to be the shopkeeper of the
shop mentioned in the previous sentence, not another one round the corner, and the
man is assumed to be the one who we have just been informed has walked into the
shop, not one who was already in the shop, for example.
Determiners are also involved in the interpretation of nouns with respect to
specificity. Compare the following:
(150) a I was looking for the cat
b I was looking for a cat
In the first sentence there is a specific cat that I am looking for, and the speaker
obviously assumes the person who is addressed knows which specific cat he is talking
40
A Typology of Word Categories
about. The second sentence is, however, ambiguous. It could either mean that the
speaker was looking for a specific cat, but assumed that the addressee does not know
which cat is referred to, or it could mean that the speaker is looking for some nonspecified cat and that any cat would satisfy the conditions of his search.
In English there are a number of syntactic phenomena that seem to be determined
by the notion of definiteness. For example, only indefinite nominals can go in the postverbal position in sentences which start with there:
(151) a there once lived an old woodcutter
b *there once lived the old woodcutter
Determiners are often marked for number. So, a, this and that are singular whilst
these and those are plural, only introducing nouns with the relevant number:
(152) a a boy/*boys
b these girls/*girl
With mass nouns, for which number is not applicable, we can have neither singular nor
plural determiners (unless we treat the mass noun as a count noun, referring to types or
groups of the material that the noun refers to – see the discussion in section 2.1.3.):
(153) a *a sand
b *these sand
The definite determiner the can be used in either singular or plural contexts and
even those unmarked for number, when used with mass nouns:
(154) a the boy
b the boys
c the water
A related concept to number is quantity and determiners often act as quantifiers
for the nouns they introduce:
(155) a
b
c
d
some people
all newspapers
both parties
every student
These quantificational determiners are also often marked for number, introducing only
certain types of noun:
(156)
a
b
c
d
both
every
all
some
singular
*house
book
*cat
man
plural
houses
*books
cats
men
mass
*bread
*water
sand
oil
They are also marked for definiteness and so may or may not introduce nouns sitting in
the post-verbal position in there sentences:
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Chapter 1 - Grammatical Foundations: Words
(157) a there arrived some letters
b there appeared many djinn
c *there sat all footballers
Not all quantificational elements are determiners, however. Some quantifiers might
at first appear to be determiners, but the observation that they are not in
complementary distribution with determiners challenges this assumption:
(158) a many problems
b few ideas
c several inaccuracies
(the many problems)
(these few ideas)
(the several inaccuracies)
Traditionally this group of quantifiers are known as post-determiners as they always
follow other determiners (which are sometimes called central determiners). This
terminology gives the impression that post-determiners are a subclass of determiner,
which is likely to be inaccurate. These elements often have many adjectival qualities,
including being able to be modified by degree adverbs and having comparative and
superlative forms:
(159) a very many buildings
b so few typos
c ?very less money
more buildings
fewer typos
?the lesser money
most buildings
fewest typos
the least money
For these reasons we will consider these elements as adjectival and will put off their
discussion until a later section.
Pronouns might also be argued to be determiners. Certain determiners can be used
straightforwardly as pronouns:
(160) a I like this hat
b I’d like some cake
I like this
I’d like some
Moreover, some pronouns can be used as determiners:
(161) a we three kings
b you fool
c them dandelions (dialectal)
Also, pronouns and determiners are in total complementary distribution:
(162) a the man
b him
c *the him
While certain nouns tend not to appear with determiners either, suggesting that
pronouns might be analysed as one of these kinds of noun, the fact is that all nouns can
appear with determiners under the right circumstances:
(163) a he’s not the Peter she married
b I met a Peter the other day
However, there are no circumstances that a pronoun can appear with a determiner:
42
A Typology of Word Categories
(164) a *he’s not the him she married
b *I met a him the other day
Like the inflections, the lexical properties of determiners are relatively simple.
They have no theta grid and they subcategorise only for nominal complements. If
pronouns are determiners, then in their pronominal use they can be considered as
‘intransitive’, taking no complement:
(165)
the
a
this
he
category:
subcat:
category:
subcat:
category:
subcat:
category:
subcat:
[+F, +N, –V]
[nominal]
[+F, +N, –V]
[nominal]
[+F, +N, –V]
[(nominal)]
[+F, +N, –V]
[(∅)]
In these lexical entries, the and a are indicated to be determiners that have an
obligatory nominal complement, while this has an optional complement and he has no
complement. Thus this may be used as a pronoun (i.e. a determiner used without a
nominal complement) and he is always used as a pronoun.
3.5.3 Degree Adverbs
So far we have looked at auxiliary verbs, which accompany verbs, and determiners,
which accompany nouns, classifying these as functional equivalents of the categories
they accompany. The obvious choice for functional adjectives, therefore, are the
degree adverbs that accompany them:
(166) a so light
b too heavy
c as thick (as a brick)
Thus we might categorise these elements as [+F, +N, +V].
It is a complex, but interesting question as to what counts as a degree adverb.
Firstly, these elements are used primarily to indicate the degree to which the state or
property expressed by an adjective holds of something. But there are a number of
elements that do this, not all of which seem to behave the same:
(167) a
b
c
d
too strong
very fast
quite real
extremely tiring
Some of these degree modifiers are in complementary distribution with each other,
indicating that they belong to the same category:
(168) a *too so tall
b *so as wide
c *as too long
However, others are not in complementary distribution:
43
Chapter 1 - Grammatical Foundations: Words
(169) a so very boring
b quite as fragile
c as extremely frustrating
This would suggest that not all of these words should be categorised as degree adverbs,
that is, as words with [+F, +N, +V] categorial features. Given that normal adverbs can
be used to modify adjectives, some of the cases in (167) can simply be taken as
adverbs, especially those that are formed from adjectives by the -ly morpheme:
(170) a he obviously left
b they certainly met
c we wanted it extremely
obviously tired
certainly irregular
extremely tough
Others however are more difficult to categorise. Words like very do not appear to be
able to be used as typical adverbs, modifying verbs or sentences, but are restricted to
modifying adjectives as are the degree adverbs:
(171)
*he flexed his muscles very
Besides distributional properties, degree adverbs also have other properties that
unify them. For example, it is typical for a degree adverb to appear alongside a clausal
element which follows the adjective being modified:
(172) a so fat [that he couldn’t do up the buttons]
b too far [to walk]
c as stupid [as they come]
This clause specifies the bounds to which the degree of the property expressed by the
modified adjective is given. Note that plain adverb modifiers of adjectives do not
appear with such limiting clauses:
(173) a *very tired [that he had to rest]
b *extremely big [to get through the door]
c *quite famous [as I am]
There is an interpretation in which these kind of constructions are not ungrammatical.
However, this is where the following clauses are associated with the adjectives or even
the whole clause rather than the degree modifiers:
(174) a he was tired, [(so) that he had to rest]
b the sofa was big [to get through the door]
c he is famous, [as I am]
(in formal English: as am I)
This is another reason to consider these words to belong to different categories.
Other words which behave as degree adverbs both distributionally and in that they
can be accompanied by a limiting clause are the comparative and superlative adverbs
more and most:
(175) a
b
c
d
so fanatical
more fanatical *so more fanatical
as wonderful
most wonderful *as most wonderful
more predictable [than I am]
most regrettable [of all]
44
A Typology of Word Categories
Although the accompanying element to most does not look much like a clause, its
interpretation is of all the things that are regrettable, which is more clause like. These
observations also lead us to consider the inflectional comparative and superlative:
(176) a
b
c
d
so nice
as tall
cuter [than I am]
strongest [of all]
nicer
tallest
*so nicer
*as tallest
Clearly, these behave exactly like the periphrastic constructions, and hence would
seem to involve a degree adverb. The obvious choice would be the comparative and
superlative morphemes themselves, which would suggest an analysis similar to what
was proposed for verbal inflections: the comparative and superlative are independent
lexical elements which are inserted into an expression separately into the degree
adverb position and then by a syntactic process become attached to the adjective:
(177) a -er tight →
b -est black
– tight-er –
→
– black-est –
Below, we can see a selection of lexical entries for degree adverbs:
(178)
so
more
-er
category:
subcat:
category:
subcat:
category:
subcat:
[+F, +N, +V]
[adjectival]
[+F, +N, +V]
[adjectival]
[+F, +N, +V]
[adjectival]
3.5.4 Complementisers
The final word category we will consider in this section is the complementiser. This
category is used to introduce clauses of one type or another. For now, we can take a
clause as a coherent part of an expression that contains an inflection, though this will
be made more precise later in the book. Examples of complementisers are:
(179) a I know [that I am right]
b I was hoping [for you to phone]
c I wonder [if you would lend me the money]
The remaining set of categorial features that has not been assigned to a category is
[+F, –N, –V], that is ‘functional prepositions’. One argument for treating
complementisers as functional prepositions is the fact that at least one of them, for, has
certain prepositional properties (it is sometimes called the prepositional
complementiser). Note that prepositions take nominal complements that are always in
the accusative Case, and never in the nominative:
(180) a to/with/for/by/etc. him
b *to/with/for/by/etc he
45
Chapter 1 - Grammatical Foundations: Words
Although the complement of complementisers (the part of the expression that
follows it) seems to be clausal rather than nominal, the nominal element that follows
the complementiser for is always accusative and indeed seems to depend on the
complementiser to its presence in that if the complementiser is absent, then so must the
nominal be:
(181) a
b
c
d
[for him to stay] would be unwise
*[for he to stay] would be unwise
[to stay] would be unwise
*[him to stay] would be unwise
We will be examining these observations in more detail later on in the book, but for
now we can take the observations as support for the categorisation of complementisers
as types of preposition. Indeed, we may even take this as evidence that
complementisers should be [–N] elements as it is this feature that is responsible for the
accusative nature of the following nominal, as discussed above.
Another argument in favour of categorising complementisers as functional
prepositions is that both prepositional elements and clauses introduced by a
complementiser undergo a syntactic process known as post-posing, where they appear
to be moved to the end of the main clause:
(182) a lies [about Larry] were circulated →
lies were circulated [about Larry]
b a book [that no one had read] was awarded first prise
a book was awarded first prise [that no one had read]
→
We saw above how inflectional elements determine the finiteness of the clause,
with modal auxiliaries and tense appearing in finite clauses and the non-finite to
appearing in non-finite clauses. Complementisers are also sensitive to finiteness. That
and if always introduce finite clauses, while for always introduces non-finite clauses:
(183) a that he may speak
b if she is staying
c for you to know
*that him to speak
*if she to stay
*for you must know
A second property of complementisers concerns what might be termed the force of
the clause that they introduce. This concerns the interpretation of the clause as either a
statement or a question:
(184) a I said [that I have the money]
b I asked [if you are free at the weekend]
The complementisers that and for introduce declarative clauses, i.e. ones that make
statements, while if introduces interrogative clauses, ones that ask questions. We can
view this in terms of a set of non-categorial features which distinguish between the
complementisers. These features are [±Wh] for the force of the clause and [±Fin] for
the finiteness of the clause. The [+Wh] feature (pronounced ‘double-u aitch’) indicates
interrogative, based on the fact that interrogative pronouns such as who, what, where,
etc. are written with an initial ‘wh’ and the [–Wh] feature indicates declarative. [+Fin]
46
A Typology of Word Categories
stands for finite and [–Fin] for non-finite. Thus, we have the following classification of
complementisers:
Wh
(185)
Fin
+
–
+
if
–
that
for
Obviously, there is one missing complementiser, the [+Wh, –Fin] one. We will put this
apparent gap in the system to one side until we are in a better position to deal with it.
The lexical entries for complementisers can be given as follows:
(186)
that
for
if
3.6
category:
subcat:
features:
category:
subcat:
features:
category:
subcat:
features:
[+F, –N, –V]
[clausal]
[–Wh, +Fin]
[+F, –N, –V]
[clausal]
[–Wh, –Fin]
[+F, –N, –V]
[clausal]
[+Wh, +Fin]
Functionally underspecified categories
We have now discussed all eight of the categories that we listed at the start of this
section. However, there are some categories that we have not yet discussed and some
members of the categories that we have which do not seem to fit well in them. In this
section we will briefly discuss the possibility or four extra categories which differ from
the previous ones in that they are not specified for the [±F] feature. This means that
they differ from each other in terms of the specification of the [±N] and [±V] features,
but they differ from the other categories in that they are neither functional nor
thematic.
We will start with the aspectual auxiliaries. We have pointed out that these
auxiliary verbs do not behave like modals as they are not in complementary
distribution with them. In fact, aspectual auxiliaries are not in complementary
distribution with any I element:
(187) a he may have been shopping
b … for him to have been shopping
c he had been shopping
This would suggest that they are not categorised in the same way as inflections. They
appear to be verbal elements as they inflect for almost the same set of things that verbs
do (perfective have inflects for tense (has/had), progressive be inflects for tense
(is/was) and perfect aspect (been) and passive be inflects for tense (is/was), perfect
aspect (been) and progressive aspect (being)). However, they are clearly not thematic
elements in that they play no role in the thematic interpretation of the sentence.
Aspectual auxiliaries therefore share properties with verbs and inflections, but they
cannot be categorised as either. We can capture this situation if, like verbs and
47
Chapter 1 - Grammatical Foundations: Words
inflections, we categorise aspectuals as [–N, +V] elements, but simply leave the [±F]
feature undefined. In common with inflections, aspectual auxiliaries also take only
verbal complements and they never precede any other category. However, they may
precede either verbs or other aspectual auxiliaries:
(188) a he has [eaten the sandwich]
b he has [been eating the sandwich]
Given that verbs are categorised as [–F, –N, +V], we cannot claim that this is the
category that aspectual auxiliaries subcategorise for as this would exclude them from
taking non-thematic verbal complements (i.e. other aspectual auxiliaries). On the other
hand, if we claim that they select complements of the category [–N, +V] they would
only be able to select for auxiliary complements and not main verbs. The solution to
the problem is stating that the category they select as their complement is optionally
specified for the [–F] feature, which correctly predicts that they cannot have an
inflectional complement.
Thus aspectual auxiliaries might have lexical entries such as the following:
(189)
have
be
(prog)
be
(pass)
category:
subcat:
category:
subcat:
category:
subcat:
[–N, +V]
[(–F), –N, +V]
[–N, +V]
[(–F), –N, +V]
[–N, +V]
[(–F), –N, +V]
If there is a non-functional non-thematic verb, then it is predicted that there must
be non-functional non-thematic nouns, adjectives and prepositions. To what extent is
this prediction fulfilled? There are nouns which do not appear to behave like thematic
nouns and yet are clearly not categorised as determiners either. Consider the following
examples:
(190) a a bottle of wine
b a cup of tea
c a group of tourists
The italicised items in these examples appear to be nouns and yet they do not behave
like other nouns. If we compare these examples to the following we can see some
obvious differences:
(191) a a picture of the president
b the disposal of the evidence
c the door of the house
The nouns in (190) do not function as the main semantic element of the expression as
do those in (191). Note that the expressions in (191) refer to a picture, a disposal and a
door respectively, but the referents of the expressions in (190) are wine, tea and
tourists respectively. One can pour a bottle of wine and drink a cup of tea, but what is
poured and drunk is not the bottle or the cup but the wine and the tea. On the other
hand, if one breaks a picture of the president or deplores the disposal of the evidence,
it is not the president that gets broken nor the evidence that is deplored. The kind of
48
A Typology of Word Categories
nouns in (190) are called measure or group nouns and they differ from other nouns
in terms of their relationship to their complements. The complements of the nouns in
(191) are arguments of those nouns and as such stand in a thematic relationship to
them. In other words, these nouns are thematic elements which have -grids in their
lexical entries. Measure nouns do not stand in the same relationship to their
complements at all and in fact they appear to have a similar relationship to their
complements as quantifying determiners do to their nominal complements. This is not
a thematic relationship and hence it appears that these nouns are not thematic nouns.
Clearly they are not determiners either and hence they seem to be prime candidates to
be analysed as non-thematic non-functional nouns.
The complements of measure nouns are always prepositional, though specifically
the preposition of is always involved. We are not yet in a position to clearly see the
details of what this implies, so we will not pursue the issue at this point. The following
lexical entries are an approximation of what is necessary to more precisely capture
their true nature:
(192)
bottle
cup
group
category:
subcat:
category:
subcat:
category:
subcat:
[+N, –V]
[prepositional]
[+N, –V]
[prepositional]
[+N, –V]
[prepositional]
Next, let us consider possible non-thematic non-functional adjectives. Recall that
post-determiners are elements which seem to have adjectival properties in that they
have comparative and superlative forms and may be modified by adverbs:
(193) a the many/more/most people
b these extremely few advantages
It is clear that these elements are not thematic and hence should not be analysed as
adjectives such as pink, certain or keen, for example. For one thing, they cannot be
used predicatively as adjectives can, making them more like degree adverbs:
(194) a the outcome was certain/irrelevant/stupid/etc.
b *the people were more/most/several/etc.
c *the idea was so/too/as
However, degree adverbs do not have comparative and superlative forms and so it would
be inaccurate to categorise the post-determiners as functional adjectives (i.e. as [+F, +N,
+V]). Therefore we propose that these elements be categorised as [+N, +V] elements. It
seems that post-determiners always select nominal complements, which is why they
have been confused with determiners and hence they have the following lexical entries:
(195)
many
few
several
category:
subcat:
category:
subcat:
category:
subcat:
[+N, +V]
[nominal]
[+N, +V]
[nominal]
[+N, +V]
[nominal]
49
Chapter 1 - Grammatical Foundations: Words
Finally, we turn to non-thematic non-functional prepositions. There are elements
which appear to be prepositions, but which do not play a role in the thematic structure
of the clause. For example, we have introduced the use of the preposition of in
situations such as the following:
(196) a a picture of Mary
b fond of his grandmother
As we pointed out, nouns and adjectives seem not to be able to take nominal
complements and hence the preposition of is inserted so that the complement is
prepositional instead. This preposition plays no role in the thematic interpretation of
these constructions however, the thematic relations hold between the noun or the
adjective and the following nominal element. Another such preposition is the by which
is found in passive clauses:
(197) a Peter hit the policeman
b Lucy received a letter
the policeman was hit by Peter
a letter was received by Lucy
Note that in the passive structures the nominal following by is interpreted the same as
the nominal preceding the verb in the active. It is, of course, the verb which determines
how to interpret this nominal, agent in (197a) and recipient in (197b), and hence,
presumably, the verb which determines it in the passive examples. If this is so, then by
plays no role in the thematic interpretation as this is entirely determined by the verb.
However, these prepositional elements, though apparently non-thematic, are not
complementisers, as they do not introduce clauses. We therefore categorise them as
prepositions which are unmarked for the F feature. Thus, they are non-thematic, but
also non-functional prepositions, categorised as [–N, –V]. Like most prepositional
elements they take nominal complements:
(198)
of
by
category:
subcat:
category:
subcat:
[–N, –V]
[nominal]
[–N, –V]
[nominal]
This concludes our typology of word categories. Although it has not been
exhaustive, as there are one or two categories that we have not discussed (conjunctions
such as and and or for example), we have covered all of the categories that we will be
concerned with in the rest of this book and nearly all of those made use of in the
English language. How to include those we have not dealt with within the system we
have developed is not something we will touch on in this book.
50
Check Questions
Check Questions
1
Discuss how it is possible to conceive of linguistic knowledge and what is
meant by the ‘grammar’ of a language.
2
Define the terms ‘arbitrariness’, ‘lexicon’, ‘word category’ and explain how
they are related.
3
Discuss some general ways of determining word categories and potential
problems that may arise in connection with them.
4
Explain how the properties of a predicate determine argument structure.
5
What is meant by argument structure and subcategorisation frame? Show how it
is possible to establish different subtypes of verbs. Support your answer with
examples.
6
What subtypes of nouns can be established using notions like ‘countable’ and
‘uncountable’ and how may members of the latter be made countable?
7
Can the possessor be conceptualised as an argument? Justify your answer: if
yes, why; if not, why not
8
How is categorial information stored in the lexicon?
9
What evidence is available for collapsing the categories Adjective – Adverb?
Discuss the behaviour of the -ly morpheme and list some irregularities. In what respect
do the categories Adjective – Adverb differ?
10
Compare the complementation of N, V, A and P.
Test your knowledge
Exercise 1
Given the two main parts of a sentence subject and predicate, chop up the sentences
below into their parts. With the help of the grammatical functions subject, direct
object, indirect object, adverbial, divide the sentences into even smaller units.
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
g
h
i
j
Peter met Mary in the park yesterday.
He gave Mary flowers when she greeted him.
Mary put the flowers into a vase at home.
The man who lives next door saw that they met.
That Peter and Mary met surprised everyone.
The curtains extended to the floor.
He hasn’t finished reading the book she lent him.
Mary has become a teacher.
Peter lives in Paris.
Mary is in Paris at the moment.
51
Chapter 1 - Grammatical Foundations: Words
Exercise 2
Identify the arguments in the following sentences.
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
g
h
i
j
k
l
m
n
o
Peter left his family.
Peter left after dinner.
Peter and Mary met in the park.
Mary suddenly noticed that her purse was missing.
Before leaving the house she checked her bag.
The purse was on the kitchen table.
Peter considers Mary beautiful.
John knew that Peter and Mary met in the park in the afternoon.
John knows Mary.
Peter wanted John out of the room.
They treated their guests kindly during their stay.
Peter wrote a letter to Mary the other day.
He sent her a box of chocolate, too.
Peter called Mary yesterday.
John called Peter a liar.
Exercise 3
Here is a list of definitions of theta roles. Given the definitions, label the arguments in
the sentences below.
Agent: the participant who deliberately initiates the action denoted by the verb
(usually animate).
Theme: the participant (animate or inanimate) moved by the action.
Patient: an affected participant (animate or inanimate) undergoing the action (the roles
‘theme’ and ‘patient’ are often collapsed).
Experiencer: the participant (animate or inanimate) that experiences some
(psychological, emotional, etc.) state.
Beneficiary/Benefactive: the participant that gains by the action denoted by the verb.
Goal: the participant towards which the activity is directed.
Source: the place from which something is moved as a result of the action.
Location: the place in which the action or state denoted by the verb is situated.
Propositional: clausal arguments have the propositional theta role.
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
g
i
j
k
Peter loves Mary.
Peter knows Mary well.
The door opened.
The purse was stolen.
Mary wrote a letter to John the following day.
John received a letter from Mary.
Mary cut the cake with a knife.
There arrived some visitors.
Mary was cooking dinner when they entered.
Peter has broken his leg.
52
Test your knowledge
l
m
n
o
p
q
Peter has broken a vase.
It surprised everyone that the visitors arrived.
They wondered what to do.
Mary is beautiful.
John is in Paris.
That the purse was stolen shocked everyone.
Exercise 4
Give sentences according to the following patterns:
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
g
h
i
j
k
l
m
n
o
p
q
r
N+V
N+V+N
D+N+V+V+P+D+N
D+N+V+D+N+P+D+N
D+V+NEG+V+C+D+V+V+D+N
D+Adv+V
Adv+N+V+D+N
N+Adv+V+D+N
N+V+D+N+Adv
V+D+Adv+V+P+N
N+V+P+D+N+P+D+A+N
D+A+N+P+D+N+V+Adv+A
N+P+N+V+A+N
N+V+D+C+D+V+Adv+V+P+N
D+A+N+V+D+A+N
D+N+V+V+A
D+Adv+V+P+A+N
D+N+V+A
Exercise 5
Give two examples for a one-place predicate, two-place predicate and three-place
predicate.
Exercise 6
Identify the thematic and the functional categories in the following sentence and give
the feature matrix of each item by making use of the following features [±F], [±N] and
[±V]:
The boy in the neighbourhood may have made a big mistake.
53
Chapter 1 - Grammatical Foundations: Words
Exercise 7
Mark the morphological boundaries and state whether the underlined morphemes are
inflectional or derivational in the following words.
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
g
h
easier
grandfathers
unhappiest
failed
unemployment
wants
eatable
quickly
Exercise 8
Identify the part of speech of each word in the sentences below.
(1)
a John likes eating nice food.
b The workers must have built the bridge near Boston.
c A friend of mine gave a book to John’s brother.
Exercise 9
The following word forms can have more than one grammatical category. State which
these categories are and create sentences in order to show their different distribution.
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
g
h
i
j
k
l
m
leaves
lead
costs
fly
rings
tears
water
rules
present
mine
left
long
fast
54
Test your knowledge
Exercise 10
Identify the word categories in the following sentences and give the lexical entries of
the verbs, auxiliaries and degree adverbs as well.
(1)
a The pretty girl will surely go for a luxury holiday in Haiti with a very tall
young man.
b His excellent idea about trade reform can probably change the economic
situation of African countries.
c A very big picture of old buildings has been sent to the former president of
the electric company in Southern France.
d The spokesman announced that the most modern houses may have been built
in the centre of London for a year.
f The ancient ruins might have been destroyed by the biggest earthquake of the
century.
Exercise 11
Identify the embedded clauses in the following sentences. Classify them according to
whether they are finite (F) clauses or non-finite clauses (N).
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
g
h
i
j
k
l
m
n
I think that John saw Hugh.
John was anxious for Hugh to see him.
They are anxious for they got bad news from their daughter today.
My father asked me to go the shop and get him tobacco.
You will not get any tobacco from me for you only a child.
The buyer wanted me to buy the horse from the seller.
The horse I bought yesterday belonged to my brother’s best man.
The landlady will go upstairs to clean the rooms.
We saw John & Hugh going into their friend’s house a while ago.
Did you see the woman that I was talking about?
That Mary has a headache every day does not surprise anyone.
I asked you to go.
For him to stay would be unwise.
To leave the party was very smart.
Exercise 12
Sentences (1a–h) below are all grammatical. On the basis of the examples, provide the
lexical entry for each underlined predicate.
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
g
h
My brother ate a lot of chocolate.
John is keen on wild animals.
John gave a book to his friend.
He always parks his car near a nice old hotel.
I love Vermeer’s painting of the young girl.
Jane broke the vase.
The vase broke.
Everybody got a letter from the Prime Minister.
55
Chapter 1 - Grammatical Foundations: Words
Exercise 13
Give the lexical entries of each predicate of the following sentences.
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
g
h
i
j
k
l
The inspector realised that the key could not open the box.
The baby crawled from her mother to her father.
Jack thought that the storm broke the window.
Shannon travelled from Paris to Rome.
Lucy cut the bread with a knife.
My friend wrote to me that John loved Eve.
John told a story to Peter.
John told her that his mother was afraid of spiders.
Sarah is proud of her sons.
Young people are often keen on sciences.
Mrs Smith is always angry at her neighbours.
Some astrologists have always held the belief that the Sun moves around the
Earth.
56
Chapter 2
Grammatical Foundations:
Structure
1
Structure
1.1
The building blocks of sentences
So far we have been discussing the properties of words and have said hardly anything
about larger units of language such as sentences. A sentence is obviously made up of a
number of words, but as we pointed out in the previous chapter, it is not true that
sentences are formed simply by putting a row of words together. If this were so then
we might expect positions in a sentence to be identifiable numerically, but this is not
so:
(1)
a Sid saw Wendy
b yesterday Sid saw Wendy
In (a) we have the verb in the second position, with one of its arguments (the
experiencer) to the left, in first position, and another of its arguments to the right in the
third position. In (b) however, everything moves one step to the right to accommodate
the word yesterday which now occupies first position. The point we made previously
is that the ordinal placement of a word in a sentence is unimportant as it is clear that
the words Sid, saw and Wendy are in the same grammatical positions in both
sentences, even though they are in different ordinal positions in the string of words.
This then raises the question of how grammatical positions are defined, if not
linearly. To answer this question we must first acknowledge the existence of units in a
sentence which are bigger than words. Let us start with an observation that we have
already noted, without much discussion, that a sentence might contain another
sentence. Consider the following sentences:
(2)
a Geoff jeopardised the expedition
b Kate claimed [Geoff jeopardised the expedition]
It is fairly clear that the bracketed part of the sentence in (2b) is the exact same
sentence as stands alone in (2a) and that the elements that they contain are in the same
positions in both cases. It therefore follows that (2b) is not simply a string of words,
but has a structure whereby it is made up of things which themselves are made up of
other things. We can represent this situation in the following way:
Chapter 2 - Grammatical Foundations: Structure
sentence
(3)
Kate claimed
sentence
Geoff jeopardised the expedition
If it is grammatical for one sentence to contain another, then it follows that the
contained sentence can contain another sentence and indeed that that sentence can
contain another, etc. In fact there should be no limit to how many sentences can be
contained one within the other. That this is so is exemplified by nursery rhymes of the
following kind:
(4)
a
b
c
d
this is the house [that Jack built]
this is the malt [that lay in the house [that Jack built]]
this is the mouse [that ate the malt [that lay in the house [that Jack built]]]
this is the cat [that chased the mouse [that ate the malt [that lay in the house
[that Jack built]]]]
e etc.
Potentially, this rhyme might go on forever, limited only by the parent’s imagination
and the fact that their children will one day grow up and want to listen to pop music
instead. One might argue that no one could ever produce an infinitely long sentence as
they would forget what they were saying after a relatively short time, and for the same
reason no one would be able to understand it. Furthermore, they would die before they
got to the end of it. Admittedly it would be a fairly pointless thing to do, but that is not
the issue. Facts about people’s imagination, their likes and dislikes, their attention
spans and even their mortality have nothing to do with the language system. This is, as
we have pointed out, a set of rules that enables us to produce and understand the
linguistic expressions that make up an E-language.
Now, if those rules tell us that sentences can contain sentences then it follows that
infinitely long sentences are grammatical regardless of whether or not anyone could
ever produce or understand such a sentence due to external considerations.
Indeed, there would be no point in adding limitations to the grammar to make it fit
with these other limitations. For example, suppose we determined that sentences with
more than 9 other sentences embedded in them go beyond the human mental capacity
to process (it is clear that it would be virtually impossible to come up with a definite
number which was applicable to all humans on all occasions – when I get up in the
morning, for example, my capacity to process sentences seems to be limited to one! –
but for the sake of the argument let us assume this number). Let us pretend,
nonetheless, that the grammar is limited to producing only 9 or less embedded
sentences. This would be an extra complication to the grammatical system as it adds a
limitation to it. Yet the situation would be exactly the same if we did not add the
limitation: humans would still be able to process sentences with 9 or fewer embedded
sentences, because of their mental restrictions, no matter what the grammar was
capable of defining as grammatical. So the extra complication to the grammar would
58
Structure
achieve nothing and we would be better off not adding it and keeping things simpler.
Moreover, why would we want to make the grammar explain facts that had nothing to
do with it: it would be like trying to get the laws of gravity to explain why red balls
fall to the ground at the same speed as blue ones do.
Let us therefore assume the grammar to contain a rule which informally might be
stated as follows:
(5)
a sentence can be made up of (at least) words and sentences
This rule defines sentences in terms of sentences and so the definition refers to what is
being defined. A rule that does this is known as recursive, and recursive rules have
exactly the property that we want to be able to define human languages. Recall from the
discussion in Chapter 1, human languages are limitless and yet they must be defined
by a finite set of rules as the human head can only store a finite amount of information.
If I-languages are made up of recursive rules, then a finite set of these will be capable
of defining an infinite number of expressions that make up an E-language.
The rule in (5) can be stated a little more formally in the following way:
(6)
sentence → word*, sentence*
This rule introduces a number of symbols to replace words used in (5). The point of
this is to make properties of the rules more obvious. Recall that generative linguists
insist on making their grammars explicit so that we are able to test and question the
assumptions being made and it is easier to see properties of rules when stated as a
formula than it is if they are given as a set of linguistic instructions, especially as the
rules become more complex.
We can read the rule in (6) as follows. The arrow indicates that the element on the
left (sentence) is defined as being made up of the elements on the right (word*,
sentence*). The asterisk after word and sentence indicates there can be any number of
these elements. Thus the rule states that a sentence can be made up of a sequence of
words and a sequence of sentences.
At the moment, this is not a particularly accurate rule as it is not the case that
English sentences are simply made up of sequences of words and sentences without
further restrictions. We have introduced it purely for expository purposes. To make
things more accurate we need to introduce another concept.
1.2
Phrases
We have said that a sentence can consist of a predicate and its arguments. So in a
sentence such as (7):
(7)
Prudence pestered Dennis
we have the verb pestered as the predicate which relates the two arguments Prudence,
the agent and Dennis, the patient. Now consider a slightly more complex case:
(8)
the postwoman pestered the doctor
This could mean exactly the same thing as (7), on the assumption that Prudence is a
postwoman and Dennis is a doctor. In this case the arguments seem to be the
postwoman and the doctor, a sequence of words made up of a determiner followed by
59
Chapter 2 - Grammatical Foundations: Structure
a noun. But what status do these sequences of words have in the sentence? It seems as
though they function as single words do in (7), inasmuch as they constitute the same
arguments as Prudence and Dennis do. Thus these two words seem to go together to
make up a unit which is the functional equivalent of the proper nouns in the original
sentence. This unit is called a phrase. We can represent this as follows:
sentence
(9)
phrase
pestered
the postwoman
phrase
the doctor
Thus, a sentence has more internal structure to it than we have so far been
assuming. Not only can sentences contain words and other sentences, they can also
contain phrases.
To make the drawing of the structures clearer in what follows we will use the
symbol S to stand for sentences and the symbol P to stand for phrases. Though it
should be made clear that these symbols have no place in the system we will
eventually develop and are used now as mnemonics which stand for something we
have yet to properly introduce.
Two questions arise immediately: do sentences contain any more phrases than
those indicated in (9), and what can phrases contain? To be able to answer these
questions, we must first look a little more closely at the properties of phrases in
general. The first thing to note is that just as words have distributions in a sentence, so
do phrases. This is obvious from the above example, as the phrases the postwoman and
the doctor distribute in the same way that the nouns Prudence and Dennis do:
wherever it is grammatical to have Prudence it will be grammatical to have the
postwoman and where it is ungrammatical to have Prudence it will be ungrammatical
to have the postwoman:
(10) a
b
c
d
Prudence is considerate
I saw Prudence
they spoke to Prudence
*we Prudence Dennis
the postwoman is considerate
I saw the postwoman
they spoke to the postwoman
*we the postwoman Dennis
With this in mind, consider the following:
(11) a Prudence pestered Dennis on Wednesday
b Prudence persisted on Wednesday
It seems that in the position where we have pestered Dennis we can have the verb
persisted. This is not surprising as the verb pestered is used transitively in (11a), with
a nominal complement (Dennis) whereas persisted is used intransitively in (11b),
without a complement. However, if intransitive verbs distribute the same as transitive
verbs plus their complements, this means that transitive verbs and their complements
form a phrase that has a distribution in the same way that a determiner with its nominal
complement distributed like certain nouns. Thus a more accurate description of the
sentence than (9) would be:
60
Structure
(12)
S
P
the
P
postwoman pestered
P
the
doctor
We see here that the sentence has even more internal structure as a phrase may also
contain another phrase.
Indeed, once we recognise the notion of a phrase, we can see them in many
positions. For example, a string consisting of the preposition on and its nominal
complement Wednesday can be replaced by the noun yesterday demonstrating that
they have the same distribution. Thus, on Wednesday is also a phrase in the sentence:
(13)
the postwoman pestered the doctor [on Wednesday]/yesterday
This suggests we have the following structure for this particular sentence:
(14)
S
P
the
postwoman
P
pestered
P
the doctor
P
on Wednesday
Moreover, in the phrase on Wednesday, the noun Wednesday can be replaced by
the words his birthday, indicating that this is also a phrasal position:
(15) the postwoman pestered the doctor on Wednesday/[his birthday]
(16)
S
P
the
postwoman
P
pestered
P
the doctor
P
on
P
his
1.3
birthday
Sentences within phrases
From what we have said so far we might think that English expressions are organised
with sentences at the top, phrases in the middle and words at the bottom. Unfortunately
things are not quite so regular. As we have seen, sentences can appear within
sentences. A typical way for this to happen is to have a sentence as part of a phrase
which itself is part of the bigger sentence. For example, instead of the phrase pestered
the doctor in (12) we might have another phrase:
61
Chapter 2 - Grammatical Foundations: Structure
(17) a the postwoman [pestered the doctor]
b the postwoman [thinks the doctor is cute]
The fact that we can substitute one phrase for another is an indication that they both
are phrases as they both have the same distribution. But note, the new phrase in (17b)
contains something that could stand alone as a sentence:
(18)
the doctor is cute
Hence we have a phrase which contains a sentence. We can represent this situation
easily enough, as in the following structure:
(19)
S
P
the
P
postwoman
thinks
S
the doctor is cute
Of course, this embedded sentence (traditionally called a clause – though some
linguists do not use the terms sentence and clause with such a distinction these days)
has its own internal structure made up of phrases and words and so the structure can be
fully specified as follows:
(20)
S
P
the
P
postwoman
thinks
S
P
the doctor
P
is
cute
As we have mentioned, there is recursion in structure and so as sentences can
contain phrases which themselves contain sentences, then these sentences can contain
phrases which contain sentences – and so on, indefinitely. We will provide an example
here with just one more level of embedding to give you some idea of how it works:
62
Structure
(21)
S
P
the
P
postwoman
thinks
S
P
P
the doctor said
S
she
P
has
P
the
flu
So far we have looked at sentences which appear inside the second phrase of the
main sentence, but this is not the only position we can find an embedded sentence. For
example, we can find a sentence as the fist element of another sentence:
(22) a [the doctor] worried the postwoman
b [that she had a sore throat] worried the postwoman
In (22b) we have a sentence she had a sore throat introduced by the complementiser
that. This sentence sits in a similar position to the phrase the doctor in (22a), in front
of the verb. Thus, instead of this phrase, we can have a sentence, as in the following
diagram:
(23)
S
S
that
P
she
P
had
worried
P
a
P
the
postwoman
sore throat
Furthermore, we can have a sentence inside the first phrase of a sentence:
(24)
[the diagnosis that she had the flu] worried the postwoman
Here, the diagnosis that she had the flu, is a phrase which contains the embedded
sentence she had the flu, introduced by a complementiser that. The structure looks as
follows:
63
Chapter 2 - Grammatical Foundations: Structure
(25)
S
P
P
the diagnosis
S
that
worried
she
P
P
the
had
postwoman
P
the
flu
Of course, this sentence could contain phrases that contain sentences and there
could be other phrases elsewhere in the sentence that contain sentences. Hence very
complex structures can be produced, though we will not exemplify these here for
reasons of space.
1.4
Structural positions
The notion of structure helps us to define grammatical positions more easily. As we
saw previously grammatical positions cannot be defined in terms of linear order. The
verb, for example, might be the second, the third or indeed the nth element in a
sentence, and yet there is still a definite position for the verb which no other element
can occupy. Once we have introduced the notion of structure, however, we can see that
the verb occupies the same structural position no matter what else is present in the
clause.
Consider the following structures:
(26)
S
S
P
P
he
snored
S
P
the
P
P
P
man snored the old man
snored
Notice that in all these structures the verb occupies the same position inside the second
phrase of the sentence. It would not matter how many words or other phrases the first
phrase contained, the verb would still be in the same position with respect to its own
phrase, and hence grammatical position defined in terms of structure is much more
satisfactory than in terms of linear order. Moreover, if we consider the structure of the
phrase that the verb appears in, we can identify its position within this phrase more
easily than by counting its position in a linear string:
(27)
P
smiled
P
kick
the
P
P
talk
P
cat
surely saw
P
to
P
the
64
police
the
P
light
Structure
Again, we cannot identify the position of the verb within the phrase in terms of linear
order, but in terms of the structure it is clear that the verb always comes directly
underneath this phrase, precedes its phrasal complements and may follow adverbial
modifiers. As we proceed it will become even clearer that there is a unique structural
position that verbs and verbs alone can occupy.
1.5
Structural terminology
Now that we have introduced the notion of structure, we need some terms to use to
refer to aspects of structures and the way we can represent them. The notion of
structure entails that there are elements of a sentence that themselves are made up of
other elements and indeed that these other elements may be made up of yet more
elements, and so on and so on. The elements that make up a larger part of the structure
are called its constituents and the constituents that directly make up a part of structure
are called its immediate constituents. Thus, in a phrase such as the following, the
verb and its complement phrase are its immediate constituents. Everything inside the
complement phrase is a constituent of the whole phrase, though not an immediate
constituent:
(28)
P
regret
P
his
decision
This kind of representation of grammatical structure is called a tree diagram,
though unlike real trees, grammatical trees tend to grow downwards. The elements that
make up the tree, the words and phrases etc. are called nodes and the lines that join the
nodes are branches.
Finally, it is often useful to talk about two or more nodes in a tree and their
relationships to each other. For this purpose a syntactic tree is seen like a family tree
with the nodes representing different family members. For some reason however, these
families are made up of women only. A node which has immediate constituents is
called the mother of those constituents and the constituents are its daughters. Two
nodes which have the same mother are sisters.
So to refer to the tree in (28) again, the top P node is the mother of the verb and the
P node which represents the verb’s complement. The verb and the complement P node
are therefore sisters. The complement P node is also a mother to the pronoun his and
the noun decision and again these two nodes are sisters.
It would of course be possible to define the relationships ‘grandmother’, ‘aunt’,
‘cousin’ etc. for any given tree diagram. However these relationships tend not to be
very important for syntactic processes and so we will not consider them.
There is another popular way of representing structure, which we have made some
use of above without comment. This is the use of brackets to represent constituents.
For example, the sentence we discussed above the postwoman pestered the doctor on
his birthday can be represented as follows:
(29)
[[the postwoman] [pestered [the doctor] [on [his birthday]]]]
65
Chapter 2 - Grammatical Foundations: Structure
The way this works is that each constituent is surrounded by square brackets and so a
constituent can be determined by finding an open bracket ‘[’ to its left and the
corresponding close bracket ‘]’ to the right. Thus, the postwoman in (29) is defined as
a constituent as it has an open bracket immediately to its left and a close bracket
immediately to its right.
Admittedly, it is harder to see the structure of a sentence when represented with
brackets than with a tree, as it takes some working out which open brackets go along
with which close bracket. However, bracketings are a lot more convenient to use,
especially if we only want to concentrate on certain aspects of a structure. So, for
example, above we represented an embedded sentence using brackets:
(30)
Kate claimed [Geoff jeopardised the expedition]
This partial bracketing demonstrates at a glance how the main sentence contains an
embedded one and so bracketing can be a very useful way of describing simple
structures.
The bracketing in (29) is not entirely equivalent to the tree diagram in (16) as in the
tree the nodes have labels that tell us what they represent, phrases or sentences. We
can add labels to brackets to make the two representations equivalent. With bracketing,
the label is usually placed on the open bracket of the constituent:
(31)
[S [P the postwoman] [P pestered [P the doctor] [P on [P his birthday]]]]
Again, this adds to the complexity of the representation and so it is not as clear as the
tree diagram. But providing it is not too complex, it is still a useful way to represent
structural details.
1.6
Labels
Although we have been labelling phrases with the symbol P, not all phrases are
equivalent to each other. This is best seen in terms of the distributions of phrases.
Take, for example the two phrases in (16) the postwoman and the doctor. These look
very similar, both consisting of a determiner followed by a noun. They also have the
same distribution patterns, as shown by the fact that wherever we can put one of them
we will also be able to put the other:
(32) a [the doctor] pestered [the postwoman]
b I saw [the doctor]/[the postwoman]
c they hid from [the doctor]/[the postwoman]
As these phrases have the same distributions, we can assume that they are phrases
of the same kind. However, not all phrases distribute in the same way. Consider the
phrase on his birthday. This cannot go in the same places as those in (32):
(33) a *[on his birthday] pestered [the postwoman]
b *I saw [on his birthday]
c *they hid from [on his birthday]
Clearly this phrase must be different from the previous two. We will see in the next
chapter that the identity of a phrase is determined by one of the words it contains. This
word is known as the head of the phrase. It will be argued later on in this book that the
66
Structure
head of phrases such as the postwoman is the determiner and the head of phrases such
as on his birthday is the preposition. Thus, we distinguish between determiner
phrases (DPs) and preposition phrases (PPs).
There are also other phrases associated with the verb (VPs), with adjectives (APs)
and indeed with every kind of word category that we have discussed (noun phrases –
NPs, inflectional phrases – IPs, CPs and degree adverb phrases – DegPs).
For now, the main point is that there are different kinds of phrases and these have
different positions within the structure of the sentence and hence different
distributions. We might therefore represent the sentence in (31) more fully as:
(34)
S
DP
the
VP
postwoman pestered
DP
the
PP
doctor on
DP
his
birthday
We will not develop this any further at this point, and we will see that certain aspects
of this structure are in need of revision. But the arguments for these developments will
be given in subsequent chapters.
1.7
Rules
The last thing we will mention in this section concerns the kinds of grammatical rules
that could be responsible for producing structures such as in (34). Recall from the start
of this section we introduced a formal rule which stated that sentences can be made up
of words and other sentences:
(35)
sentence → word*, sentence*
The rule states that a sentence is made up of some words and some sentences.
Although this rule is not particularly accurate, we can see that this kind of rule is ideal
for describing the kinds of structures we have been discussing, as they state what the
immediate constituents of a structure are: in other words, this rule describes mother–
daughter relationships.
From the structure in (34) it is possible to formulate the following rules:
(36)
S → DP VP
VP → V DP PP
PP → P DP
DP → D N
Such rules are known as rewrite rules as they describe how to draw a tree by ‘rewriting’ the symbol on the left of the arrow for the symbols on the right. Thus, if we
start with the S at the top of the tree diagram we can rewrite this as a DP and a VP.
The VP can be re-written as a verb, a DP and a PP and the PP as a preposition and a
DP. The DPs can then be re-written as determiners followed by nouns.
67
Chapter 2 - Grammatical Foundations: Structure
Although the system of rules in (36) is capable of describing the structures of a
good number of English sentences, it is clear that we would need many more rules to
attempt to describe the structures of all English sentences. For example, not every DP
is made up of a determiner followed by a noun. Some may contain just a determiner,
such as this for example, or a determiner, an adjective and a noun, such as a rusty
kettle. A DP may indeed contain, amongst other things another sentence, such as the
diagnosis that she had flu. It is clear that we would need many rewrite rules to capture
all the possibilities for English DPs.
This fact does not invalidate this kind of rule for linguistic descriptive purposes. As
long as there is only a finite number of rules, a legitimate grammar could be
formulated even with a very large number of them. However, if human grammars are
constructed of a large number of rules the question is raised of how children could ever
learn their grammatical systems. This consideration has lead some linguists to assume
that what is needed is a far more restricted set of rules. We will introduce the theory of
phrase structure that follows this line of thought in the next chapter.
2
Grammatical Functions
2.1
The subject
In all the sentences we have looked at so far, there has been an argument of the verb
which appears to its left. All of the other arguments have appeared after the verb. As
we see by the following sentences, this is an essential fact about grammatical English
sentences:
(37) a
b
c
d
Garry gave Victor a radio
*gave Garry Victor a radio
*Victor Gary gave a radio
*a radio Victor Gary gave
While there is a special way to pronounce these words in the order in (37c) that would
make it grammatical (with a pause after Victor), this would have a special
interpretation in which Victor is singled out from a set of possible referents and the rest
of the sentence is taken to be something said particularly about him. However, without
this special intonation and meaning the sentence is just as ungrammatical as the others:
the ‘normal’ word order of English is as in (37a). Thus the basic word order of English
has one and only one argument of the verb to its left and all the others to its right.
From a structural point of view, the argument that precedes the verb also differs
from the other arguments. This argument is an immediate constituent of the sentence,
whereas all other arguments are inside the verb phrase:
(38)
S
DP
Gary gave
Note:
A triangle is used in a tree
diagram when we do not want
to represent the details of the
internal structure of the phrase.
VP
DP
Victor
DP
a
radio
68
Grammatical Functions
We call the argument that precedes the VP in the sentence the subject. Besides its
privileged position in the sentence, the subject also plays an important role in a number
of different phenomena. In a finite sentence, the verb may have a different form
depending on properties of the subject:
(39) a I/you eat breakfast at 6.30
b we/they eat breakfast at 8
c he/she/Ernie eats breakfast at 9.15
When the subject refers to either the speaker or the addressee, what we call first and
second person, the finite verb in present tense shows no overt morphology. The same
is true when the subject is plural. However, when the subject is third person (referring
neither to the speaker nor the addressee) and singular the present tense verb inflects
with an ‘s’. This morpheme not only shows the tense therefore, but also the nature of
the subject: that it is third person singular. This phenomenon is known as agreement:
we say that the verb agrees with the subject.
Clearly English does not have much in the way of agreement morphology, usually
distinguishing just the two cases given above, though the verb be has three agreement
forms in the present tense and two in the past tense:
(40) a
b
c
d
e
I am ready
you/we/they are ready
he/she/Iggy is ready
I/he/she/Wanda was ready
you/we/they were ready
Other languages, however, show a good deal more, as the following Hungarian
examples show:
(41) a
b
c
d
e
f
(én) 6-kor reggelizek
(te) 6-kor reggelizel
( ) 6-kor reggelizik
(mi) 6-kor reggelizünk
(ti) 6-kor reggeliztek
( k) 6-kor reggeliznek
(I eat breakfast at 6)
(you eat breakfast at 6)
(he/she eats breakfast at 6)
(we eat breakfast at 6)
(you(plural) eat breakfast at 6)
(they eat breakfast at 6)
Hungarian verbal morphology is a good deal more complex than this, though it is not
my intention to go into it here. The point is that although English has less agreement
morphology than Hungarian, the phenomenon is the same in that the form of the verb
reflects person and number properties of the subject. In English, the other arguments
have no effect on the form of the verb:
(42)
TV bores me/you/him/…
Thus agreement is a relationship that holds between the subject and the finite verb.
Another aspect of the subject that shows up in finite clauses concerns the form of
the subject itself. Previously we introduced the notion of Case, which is
morphologically apparent only on pronouns in English. The subject of the finite clause
is the only position where a nominative pronoun (I, he, she, we, they) can appear. In all
69
Chapter 2 - Grammatical Foundations: Structure
other positions English pronouns have the accusative form (me, him, her, us, them –
you and it are the same in nominative and accusative):
(43) a
b
c
d
I/he/she/we/they will consider the problem
Robert recognised me/him/her/us/them
Lester never listens to me/him/her/us/them
Conrad considers me/him/her/us/them to be dangerous
In (43a) the pronouns are the subject of the finite clause and are in their nominative
forms, in (43b) they act as the complement of the verb (a position which we will return
to), in (43c), complement of a preposition and in (43d) subject of a non-finite clause
containing the infinitive marker to, and they are in their accusative forms.
A further grammatical fact about the subject of the finite clause is that it is always
present. That this is a grammatical fact is most clearly shown by the fact that if there is
no need for a subject semantically, a grammatical subject which has no meaning has to
appear:
(44)
it seems [that Roger ran away]
The verb seem has just one argument, the clause that Roger ran away, which acts as its
complement. Thus from a semantic point of view there is no subject argument here. Yet
there is a subject, the pronoun it, which in this case has no meaning. Note that this it is
not the same as the one that refers to a third person non-human, as in the following:
(45)
it bit me!
With (45) one could question the pronoun subject and expect to get an answer:
(46)
Q: what bit you? – A: that newt!
With (44) however, this is not possible because the pronoun does not refer to anything:
(47)
Q: what seems [that Roger ran away]?
– A: ???
These meaningless subjects are often called expletive or pleonastic subjects, both
terms meaning meaningless.
The appearance of an expletive element is restricted to the subject position. We do
not get an expletive in a complement position of intransitive verbs, which do not
subcategorise for a complement:
(48) a *Sam smiled it
b *Sue sat it
(Sam smiled)
(Sue sat)
The subject of non-finite clauses is a little more complex as there are occasions
where they are necessary and hence an expletive must appear if there is no semantic
subject, and there are other cases where the position must be left empty, even though
there is semantic interpretation for it:
(49) a I consider [it to be obvious who the murderer is]
b *I consider [- to be obvious who the murderer is]
(50) a Terry tried [- to escape]
b *Terry tried [himself to escape]
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Grammatical Functions
In (49) the situation is exactly like the subject of the finite clause and the expletive
subject must be present. In (50) however, the subject is obligatorily absent, though it is
clear that the clause is interpreted as though Terry is the subject: the one who is
escaping. We will investigate these observations later in this book. For now, however,
what all this shows is that subjects are treated rather differently from other arguments
from a grammatical point of view.
Semantically, the treatment of subjects is not quite so clear-cut. It is a traditional
point of view that the subject names what the sentence is about, with the rest of the
sentence (traditionally called the predicate) saying something about the subject. So it
is claimed that a sentence such as (51) is about Simon and what is said about him is
that he ate the sandwich:
(51)
Simon ate the sandwich
However, although this may be true for a lot of sentences, there are many occasions
when it is not so. For example, sentences with expletive subjects could hardly be claimed
to be about the subject as otherwise they would not be about anything at all. Moreover,
other sentences can just as easily be said to be about arguments other than the subject:
(52) a as for your claim that you are Superman, I don’t believe it
b Q: what’s up with Amanda?
A: the teacher just failed her
In (52a) the subject is I, but it is clear that the sentence is not about me but the dubious
claim. The answer given in (52b) has the teacher as the subject, but given the context
of the question, we see that the sentence is about Amanda, the referent of her, which is
a complement. Therefore the traditional approach to the subject is highly problematic
and will not be adopted here.
The other semantic aspect of the subject concerns its interpretation as an argument
of the verb. This is also very complex, but less doubtful than the claim that the subject
is what the sentence is about. When there is a meaningful subject of a verb with two or
more arguments, the subject is interpreted as a specific argument, and we do not just
interpret it as any one of the possible arguments:
(53)
Henry hit Thomas
The verb hit has two arguments: the one who does the hitting, the agent, and the
one who gets hit, the patient. But (53) is unambiguous: it must be interpreted with
Henry as the agent and Thomas as the patient. Indeed, agent is a very typical -role for
a subject to have. Experiencer is also a typical subject -role:
(54)
Simone sensed a problem
This does not mean to say that we never have any other kind of subject however, as
it is possible to have patient and theme subjects:
(55) a the letter arrived late
b a problem was sensed
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Chapter 2 - Grammatical Foundations: Structure
However, it might be claimed that these are special cases (the nature of their status
will be discussed in a later chapter) and that the typical position for such arguments is
not the subject.
Further problems for a simple relationship between subjects and thematic
interpretation can be seen in examples such as the following:
(56) a Fred fears heights
b heights frighten Fred
In both these cases, the argument Fred is interpreted as experiencer and in (56a) the
experiencer is the subject, as would be expected. However, this is not the case in (56b).
We see then that the relationship between thematic interpretation and grammatical
position is a complex business. We will not go into the matter here as we lack the
means to do so. We will return to the issue in a subsequent chapter.
One last point to mention about subjects is that although all the cases we have so
far dealt with have involved a DP subject, it is possible to find other kinds of phrases
and even clauses in subject positions:
(57) a
b
c
d
[PP down there] would be a good place to hide
[S that I don’t know the answer] should not be surprising
[AP ill] was how I was feeling at the time
[VP run away] is what I advise you to do
Clearly some of these sentences have a special status in one sense or another and it is
certainly not typical to find AP or VP subjects. They are included here however to
provide a fuller picture of the set of possibilities.
2.2
The object
So far we have concentrated on the subject, but what about any other argument: do
they have special statuses? One other argument, known as the object, might be
claimed to have special features with regard to all other types of complement.
The object is a DP complement and like other complements it follows the verb:
(58) a Peter put [DP the bike] [PP in the shed]
c Gary gave [DP the voucher] [PP to the attendant]
Note that the object has a privileged position in relation to the other complements
in that it must immediately follow the verb:
(59) a *Peter put [PP in the shed] [DP the bike]
c *Gary gave [PP to the attendant] [DP the voucher]
Another fact about objects is that they are arguments which may undergo certain
syntactic processes and so seem to be singled out by these. For example, in a passive
sentence, the subject may go missing (it may be present inside a by-phrase, but we will
not deal with this at the moment). In this case, the argument which would normally be
interpreted as the object appears in the subject position. We may interpret this as a
process which ‘moves’ the object into subject position:
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Grammatical Functions
(60) a we all saw Wendy
b Wendy was seen –
This process is restricted to object and does not happen to other kinds of complements:
(61) a
b
a
c
[DP the bike] was put [PP in the shed]
[DP the voucher] was given [PP to the attendant]
*[PP in the shed] was put [DP the bike]
*[PP to the attendant] was given [DP the voucher]
We have also seen that the object is a more limited complement in some ways. For
example, Verbs and Prepositions have objects, but nouns and adjectives do not:
(62) a
b
c
d
see [DP the sights]
to [DP the castle]
*a picture [DP his mother]
*regretful [DP his deeds]
The object following the preposition is called a prepositional object.
In the same way that subjects tend to have a Case form associated with them, so
too do objects. The object, when it sits in object position and is not moved to the
subject position as in (60), always appears in its accusative Case:
(63) a I saw him/her/them/etc.
b *I saw he/she/they/etc.
The prepositional object also must appear in the accusative form:
(64) a I looked at him/her/them/etc.
b * I looked at he/she/they/etc.
Prepositional objects also sometimes undergo the same movements that verbal objects
do, for example in passive structures:
(65) a the doctor looked at her
b she was looked at – by the doctor
However, this phenomenon is complex and not all objects of prepositions can undergo
this movement:
(66)
*the doctor was stood near by the patient
(cf. the patient stood near the doctor)
Quite what determines when a prepositional object may undergo this movement and
when it may not is not well understood. It seems to have something to do with the
relationship between the verb that is passivised and the preposition whose object moves:
the closer the relationship, the more likely the object will be able to move. Thus the at
preposition in (65) is closely related to the verb, heading the PP complement of this
verb. The near preposition in (66) does not head a PP complement, but a PP that
modifies the verb. Modification is not such a close relationship as it is not indicated in
a head’s lexical entry, but can be fairly freely be added to any appropriate head.
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Chapter 2 - Grammatical Foundations: Structure
The clausal complement of certain verbs have some properties in common with
objects. For example, these clauses can undergo movement in passive structures:
(67) a everyone believed [that Bill belly-dances]
b [that Bill belly-dances] was believed – by everyone
Presumably this is one of the reasons why verbs which have clausal complements have
traditionally been considered as transitive verbs. There are, however, a number of
differences between clausal and DP complements. One is that clauses obviously do not
appear in accusative Case. However, given that it is only the pronouns in English that
demonstrate Case distinctions, this is not surprising. Another difference is that not all
clausal complements can undergo passive movement:
(68) a * [that Charley cheated] was considered by everyone
b * [if Kevin likes coffee] was wondered by Wendy
Moreover, even in those cases where it can take place, the movement is an optional
one:
(69) a [that students attend exams] is expected by the university
b it is expected [that students attend exams] by the university
DP objects always move in passive structures:
(70) a Fiona was found by the search party
b * it was found Fiona by the search party
Given the differences between clausal and DP objects, we will, in this book,
reserve the term object for DP complements alone and will not extend it to clausal
complements as is sometimes done.
Overall, we see that the object receives a special treatment in the grammar, though
it is treated very differently to subjects.
2.3
Indirect object
Some verbs can have more than one object:
(71)
Lucy lent Larry a lasso
This construction is known as the double object construction, for obvious reasons.
Interestingly, the two objects do not have the same properties. For one thing, their
orders are fixed in Standard English, though there are dialectal differences, especially
if either or both objects are expressed by a pronoun:
(72) a Lucy lent a lasso Larry
b Lucy lent him it/it him
(ungrammatical in Standard English)
(both grammatical in non-Standard English)
We call the object that immediately follows the verb in Standard English the indirect
object and the one that follows this, the direct object. The indirect object is more
often than not assigned the goal or beneficiary -role by the verb while the direct
object bears the theme -role.
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Testing for Structure
Restricting ourselves to the discussion of the standard dialect, we find the two
objects also differ in terms of passive movement. Only the indirect object can undergo
this movement:
(73) a Larry was lent a lasso
b * a lasso was lent Larry
The direct object can only undergo passive movement if the goal argument is
expressed as a PP, in what is often called the dative alternate or the dative
construction:
(74) a Lucy lent a lasso to Larry
b a lasso was lent to Larry
The notions of subject, direct object and indirect object are known as grammatical
functions. It is fairly clear that they are defined as positions in the English sentence, in
that any element which sits in those positions will be interpreted as subject and object
respectively, no matter if this makes sense or not:
(75) a Eddy ate his dinner
b ?his dinner ate Eddy
The fact that people eat dinners and that dinners do not usually eat people is irrelevant
as far as the interpretation of these sentences is concerned. What is important is which
position each argument occupies and hence which grammatical function each
argument has, and this alone is what determines how to interpret the sentence.
3
Testing for Structure
3.1
Substitution
In the previous sections we have presented the sentence as structured into a subject DP
followed by a VP, and the VP as structured into the verb and its complements:
(76)
S
DP
the
VP
bull worried
DP
the china-shop owner
We developed this structure by noting certain distributional patterns, such as the
subject the bull could be replaced by the pronoun it and the VP worried the china-shop
owner could be replaced by the verb charged:
(77)
it charged
As we claimed, the distribution of an element shows us that it has a certain status in
the sentence and all elements which have the same distribution will have the same
status. This is why we could use observations about distribution to demonstrate the
structure of the sentence: the fact that the bull has the same distribution as it shows that
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Chapter 2 - Grammatical Foundations: Structure
the bull is a constituent, specifically a DP as, as argued above, pronouns are
determiners. Furthermore, the fact that worried the china-shop owner has the same
distribution as charged shows that the former is also a constituent, specifically a VP as
charge is a verb. In other words, we can use distributional observations such as these
to test the structure of any sentence: for any part of the sentence, if we find it
distributes like some element that we know what its categorial status is, then we can
assume that that part of the sentence has the same status as that element.
Let us consider another sentence to show how this might work:
(78)
the bishop that just left was hiding a gun under his mitre
At first glance, you might be tempted to claim that the subject of this sentence is the
bishop. But note that this cannot be replaced by a pronoun, though the whole string the
bishop that just left can be:
(79) a *he that just left was hiding a gun under his mitre
b he was hiding a gun under his mitre
Thus we conclude that the subject of this sentence is the bishop that just left, not just
the bishop.
The rest of the sentence was hiding a gun under his mitre can be replaced by a
single verb:
(80)
[the bishop that just left] disappeared
Hence we may assume that this part of the sentence constitutes the VP:
(81)
S
DP
VP
The bishop that just left
was hiding a gun under his mitre
Turning to the VP, we note that the word a gun can also be replaced by a pronoun
it and hence this is also a DP – this time it is a DP complement, i.e. the object:
(82)
[DP the bishop that just left] was hiding it under his mitre
Furthermore, the part of the sentence his mitre can also be replaced by a pronoun and
so this must be a DP too:
(83) a [DP the bishop that just left] [VP was hiding [DP a gun] under it]
b [DP the bishop that just left] [VP was hiding [DP a gun] under [DP his mitre]
Next, we note that under his mitre can be replaced by the word there:
(84)
[DP the bishop that just left] [VP was hiding [DP a gun] there]
This shows us that the string of words, under his mitre forms a constituent of the
sentence, but the category of this constituent is not so easy to determine from the
category of its replacement. We might suppose that there is a pronoun and therefore it
replaces DPs, but this constituent is made up of a preposition (under) followed by a
DP (his mitre) which does not distribute like a DP:
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Testing for Structure
(85) a *[under his mitre] disappeared
b *the bishop was hiding [under his mitre]
(85b) is ungrammatical if we take under his mitre to name what it is that is being
hidden, equivalent to a gun in (78) (though it is grammatical with the interpretation
that it names the place where the bishop was hiding! In this case it does not function as
the object and hence is not distributing like one). We called this kind of constituent a
prepositional phrase above and we will continue to assume this and therefore we can
conclude that there is in fact a pronominal preposition phrase as this is what it seems
to replace.
Turning to the structural position of the auxiliary verb was note also that the part of
the VP that follows this can also be replaced by a verb:
(86)
[DP the bishop that just left] was smiling
We concluded above that if something can be replaced by a verb it has the status of a
VP and hence we have one VP inside another in this case, which tallies with our
description of auxiliary verbs that they take verbal complements.
Putting this together, we have now derived the structure:
(87)
S
DP
VP
The bishop that just left was
VP
hiding DP
PP
a gun under
DP
his
mitre
Turning to the subject, we note that the part of this DP bishop that just left can be
replaced by a single noun:
(88)
[DP the impostor] [VP was [VP hiding [DP a gun] [PP under [DP his mitre]]]]
We may conclude, therefore that this part of the structure is also a phrase, presumably
a noun phrase, as the word impostor is a noun. This NP is constructed of a noun
followed by that just left, which as it is introduced by a complementiser we can
conclude is some kind of a clause, though admittedly it doesn’t look much like a
clause and a lot more needs to be said to show that it is. For now, let us just accept that
it is a clause and stop our analysis at this point. What we have therefore is the
following structure:
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Chapter 2 - Grammatical Foundations: Structure
(89)
S
DP
The
VP
NP
bishop
was
S
VP
hiding
that just left
DP
a gun
PP
under
DP
his mitre
In our discussion so far we have shown that whole DPs can be replaced by a
pronoun and, indeed, that a PP can be replaced by the prepositional ‘pronoun’ there.
But for VP we have used intransitive verb to demonstrate the distributional properties
of the phrase. Is there a ‘pronoun’ for a VP? I may be that the words do so function as
a kind of pronominal replacement for VPs, though its use is a little more restricted than
other pronouns:
(90)
the bishop hid his gun and the verger did so too
In this example, we have two sentences: the bishop hid his gun; the verger did so too.
These two sentences are made into one sentence by placing them either side of the
word and. The phenomena is known as coordination, about which we will have more
to say in a little while. Given that the words did so in (90) are interpreted as meaning
hid his gun, we can see that they replace the VP in the second sentence, forcing this
VP to be interpreted the same as the VP of the first sentence. This is similar to the use
of the pronoun in the following:
(91)
the bishop hid his gun and he jumped into the getaway car
Given this similarity, we might take the words do so to be a pronoun which replaces
VPs and hence we can test whether a constituent is a VP by seeing if it can be replaced
by do so.
The NP inside the DP may also have a pronominal replacement. Consider the
following:
(92)
this robbery of a bank was more successful than that one
In this sentence the word one replaces robbery of a bank, which is an NP. Note that it
does not replace the whole DP, as do pronouns such as it, that, him, etc. We can
therefore claim that one is a pronoun which replaces NPs and hence anything that can
be replaced by one is an NP.
Pronominalising adjective phrases is more restricted than the other phrases we have
considered. It appears that only APs functioning as predicates can be pronominalised
and not those which are modifiers:
(93) a the bishop was guilty and so was the verger
b *the guilty bishop and the so verger
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Testing for Structure
As we can see the pronoun for APs is so, though as it is restricted to predicative APs
and it also plays a role in Pronominalising VPs, we might consider it as a general
pronoun for replacing predicates. Nevertheless it can still be used as a constituent test
as anything that functions as a predicate is a constituent of one type or another.
Finally in this section, let us consider pronouns which replace clauses. In some
cases, the pronoun it can be used for this purpose:
(94)
they said the bishop robbed the bank, but I don’t believe it
Given that the it stands for the bishop robbed the bank and that this is a clause, this
word can be claimed to be a clausal pronoun (as well as a DP pronoun).
The word so can also replace whole clauses:
(95)
they said the bishop is dangerous, but I don’t think so
Thus, besides being a general predicative pronoun, so can also be a clausal pronoun.
Like other pronouns, then, it can provide us with evidence as to what counts as a
constituent in a sentence.
3.2
Movement
There are other aspects of distribution we might use to support a structural analysis of
a clause. For example, the distribution of an element refers to the set of positions that
that element may occupy. Sometimes we can identify a number of positions that an
element might be able to occupy in related sentences:
(96) a the policeman searched the bishop
b the bishop, the policeman searched
Both of these sentences are grammatical in English, though the second one seems
to have a special status and the first is more ‘normal’ in this respect. To start with, the
second sentence seems to give a special interpretation to the bishop. The meaning can
be understood in a context in which there are a group of people being searched,
including the bishop, and these are being searched by various people. We might
therefore have an extended context:
(97)
the policewoman searched the nun, the chief constable searched the vicar and
the bishop, the policeman searched.
We call the element in front of the subject that has this interpretation the topic.
Note that in this case the topic is also interpreted as the object: the one being
searched. This is why this structure seems to be special with respect to the one in
(96a), where the object has no extra aspects to its interpretation. From a syntactic point
of view, the interesting observation is that the topic is a separate position, somewhere
in front of the subject. We might account for why the element which sits in this
position is interpreted as both the object and the topic by proposing that the object is
moved into the topic position:
(98)
the bishop, the policeman searched –
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Chapter 2 - Grammatical Foundations: Structure
Obviously, such movement processes determine aspects of the distribution of an
element: an element which can be moved from one position to another must be able to
occupy both positions. Turning this the other way round, something which moves has
a certain distribution and we know that anything that has a distribution is a constituent.
It therefore follows that anything that moves is a constituent, and we can use
movement phenomena to test assumptions about the structure of a sentence. For
example, the movement involved in topicalising the object in (98) can be taken as
support that the object is a constituent of this sentence.
In the following sentence we see that the VP can also undergo a similar movement,
supporting the claim that the verb and its object form a constituent:
(99)
I thought the policeman would search the bishop, and
[search the bishop], he did –
Thus these movement facts support the following analysis of the structure of this
sentence:
(100)
S
DP
the policeman
VP
searched
DP
the bishop
There are many instances of movements to be found in language. One of the most
obvious is found in certain questions. Many English questions involve a word like
which, what, where, why, etc. at the beginning of the sentence. However, these words
have a dual function, being associated with some function within the clause as well as
indicating the interrogative status of the clause by appearing at its beginning. For
example, in the following the word what is interpreted not only as an interrogative but
also as the object of the sentence:
(101)
what did they find
One way to account for this interpretation is to claim that the wh-element does not start
in the clauseinitial position, but is moved to this position from the object position. In
this way we can claim that what IS the object and hence account for its interpretation.
The movement may be indicated thus:
(102)
what did they find –
These interrogative elements are called wh-elements as they tend to be spelled with
the letters w and h at the beginning, though this does not reflect the current
pronunciation of these words. In the above example, the wh-element can be
categorised as a DP, originating from object position, which is a DP position. We can
also find wh-APs and PPs:
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Testing for Structure
(103) a where did they find the gun
b how did the judge find the bishop
(A = under the bishops mitre)
(A= guilty!)
The fact that the answer to (103a) is a preposition phrase and that to (103b) is an
adjective phrase is an indication that these wh-elements are prepositional and
adjectival respectively.
Not every kind of phrase can be questioned in this way, however. For example,
there is no wh-element that corresponds to a VP, nor one for an NP. However the fact
remains that only constituents can undergo this movement and so it can act as a fairly
reliable test for the constituent structure of most parts of a sentence.
It is important to note that only one constituent can undergo any particular
movement and that two constituents cannot move together. To demonstrate this,
consider the following sentence:
(104)
the bishop killed the bank manager with the gun
This sentence can be interpreted in one of two ways depending on who is seen as
having the gun. If it is the bank manager who has the gun, then the PP with the gun
acts as a modifier within the DP the bank manager with the gun. If, on the other hand,
the bishop has the gun, then the PP is interpreted as modifying the VP killed the bank
manager with the gun. In the first interpretation the PP is a kind of locative modifier,
locating the gun with the bank manager and in the second it is an instrumental modifier
saying what was used to kill the bank manager. The important point to note is that in
the first case the PP forms a single constituent with the DP, whereas in the second it is
a separate constituent from this. Thus we have the two structures:
(105) a
S
DP
the bishop
VP
V
DP
killed
b
the bank manager with the gun
S
DP
the bishop
VP
V
killed
DP
PP
the bank manager with the gun
Suppose we topicalise the object in (105a), moving the DP to the front of the
clause. As the PP is part of the DP it will be carried along with the rest of it and we
will derive the following sentence:
(106)
the bank manager with the gun, the bishop killed –
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Chapter 2 - Grammatical Foundations: Structure
This sentence is no longer ambiguous between the two meanings. This is because we
must interpret the moved element as a single constituent and not as two separate
constituents that have been moved together. The same point can be made with the
movement of wh-elements, as shown by the following:
(107)
which bank manager with a gun did the bishop kill –
Again this sentence is unambiguous and the PP must be interpreted as modifying the
DP and not the VP. An overall conclusion about movement is therefore that anything
that can be moved is a single constituent and hence movement provides a relatively
robust and useful test for constituent structure.
3.3
Coordination
There are other phenomena besides distribution that can also be used to support
structural analyses. One of these involves coordination. This is a device used in
language to take two elements and put them together to form a single element. This
coordinated element then acts like the two coordinated elements would have
individually. For example, we can take two nouns, say Bill and Ben, and we can
coordinate them into a single element Bill and Ben. This coordinated element behaves
exactly like each of the nouns in that it can appear as subject, object, object of a
preposition or topic in a sentence:
(108) a
b
c
d
Bill and Ben went down the pub
I know Bill and Ben
they sent a letter to Bill and Ben
Bill and Ben, everyone avoids
The point is that as the coordinated element behaves in the same way as its
coordinated parts would individually, we cannot coordinate two conflicting things. So
while two nouns can be coordinated, and two verbs can be coordinated, a noun and a
verb cannot:
(109) a the [boys and girls]
b have [sung and danced]
c *the [boys and danced] have [sung and girls]
Not just words can be coordinated however; we can also coordinate phrases and
sentences. As long as the phrases and sentences are sufficiently the same, the result
will be a phrase or a sentence which behaves in the same way as its coordinated parts:
(110) a [these boys] and [those girls]
b [have sung] and [are now dancing]
c [the boys have sung] and [the girls are now dancing]
Just like in the case of movement, only constituents may be coordinated and two
independent constituents cannot act as one single conjunction which is coordinated
with another. To demonstrate this, recall the ambiguous sentence in (104) where the
PP was either associated with the object DP or with the VP. Now, if we coordinate the
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Testing for Structure
string of words, the bank manager with the gun with the DP the security guard, the
ambiguity is resolved:
(111)
the bishop killed the bank manager with the gun and the security guard
In this example two DP objects are coordinated, one the bank manager with the gun
and the other the security guard. The first conjunct cannot be interpreted as a separate
DP with following PP modifying the VP as this would not constitute a single
constituent which could be coordinated with the second DP.
Again we can turn these observations round to provide a test for structural
analyses. If we claim that a certain part of a sentence constitutes a phrase, then to test
this claim we could take another similar element and see if the two things can be
coordinated. Thus, to go back to the structure proposed in (100), there are three
constituents proposed: the subject DP, the VP and the object DP inside the VP. If this
is accurate, we should be able to find an element to coordinate with these constituents
to form grammatical sentences:
(112) a [[the policeman] and [the chief constable]] searched the bishop
b the policeman [[searched the bishop] and [confiscated his crosier]]
c the policeman searched [[the bishop] and [the verger]]
The prediction seems to be supported and hence we can feel reasonably confident
about the structure proposed in (100).
The coordination test, however, needs to be carefully applied. Recall that the way
coordination works is to take two elements and form them into a single element that
has the same function as the two elements would have individually. It therefore
follows that two elements cannot be coordinated if they do not have the same function,
even though they may be constituents of the same category. For example, if we tried to
coordinate a PP that was a locative modifier of a DP with one which was an
instrumental modifier of a VP the result would be ungrammatical:
(113)
*the bishop shot the bank manager with a moustache and with a gun
By the same token, two constituents with the same function can be coordinated,
even if they do not have the same categorial status:
(114)
you should take the medicine regularly and under proper medical supervision
In this example the adverb regularly and the PP under medical supervision have the
same modifying function in the VP and hence can be coordinated.
Still, despite these few complications, it remains a fact that only constituents can be
coordinated and hence the coordination test is also a fairly reliable one for constituent
structure.
3.4
Single-word phrases
There is an important point we should make before finishing this chapter. We have
claimed that elements which have the same distribution have the same categorial
status. We have also seen cases where phrases can be replaced by a single word. This
leads us to the conclusion that these words have the status of the phrases they replace.
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Chapter 2 - Grammatical Foundations: Structure
This might sound contradictory, but it is not. The fact is that phrases can consist of one
or more words. Thus, while smile is a verb, it is also a VP in the following sentence:
the Cheshire cat [VP smiled]
(115)
Furthermore, while a pronoun is a determiner, it is also a DP in the following sentence:
(116)
I never knew [DP that]
We have also seen that the word there can replace prepositional phrases, and so not
only is it a word, it is also a PP:
(117)
we don’t go [PP there]
The situation is easy enough to represent in terms of a tree diagram:
(118) a
VP
b DP
c PP
V
D
P
smiled
that
there
In such trees the dual status of these elements as both word and phrasal categories is
clearly represented.
Check Questions
1
What are phrases?
2
What are rewrite rules?
3
Define what a recursive rule looks like and comment on its importance in the
grammar.
4
Compare characteristics of subjects in finite and non-finite clauses.
5
What is an direct object, an indirect object and a prepositional object?
6
Compare the dative construction with the double-object construction.
7
What tests can you use to define whether a string of words forms a constituent
or not?
84
Test your knowledge
Test your knowledge
Exercise 1
List the rewrite rules used in generating the following structure:
S
DP
The
VP
NP
bishop
was
S
VP
hiding
that just left
DP
PP
a gun under
DP
his mitre
Exercise 2
Identify the constituents in the following sentences.
a The postman lost his key yesterday.
b The student who has just passed the exam is very happy.
c This theory of language acquisiton is easy for students who understand
mathematics.
Exercise 3
Account for why the following sentences are ungrammatical.
a *Yesterday I met Paul and with Peter.
b *Whose did you see favourite film?
c *Mike invited the woman with long hair, Jamie invited the she with short
hair.
d *The student, I haven'
t seen of Physiscs lately.
e *She can paint with her mouth and with pleasure.
85
Chapter 3
Basic Concepts of Syntactic
Theory
1
X-bar Theory
1.1
Rewrite rules and some terminology
We will start by looking at some general principles that determine the basic structure
of phrases and sentences. The perspective we will present claims that these principles
are simple because there are a very small number of them that apply to all structures.
In fact this theory claims there to be at most three different rules which determine the
nature of all structures in a language. These can be stated as follows:
(1)
a X'→ X YP
b XP → YP X'
c Xn → Xn, Y/YP
Recall from chapter 2, rewrite rules which tell us how structures of various kinds
decompose into their constituent parts. The rules in (1) are like these, only far more
general. The generality is achieved through the use of category variables, X and Y,
which stand for any possible category (nouns, verbs, prepositions, determiners, etc.).
Thus these rules tell us how phrases in general are structured, not how particular VPs,
PPs or DPs are.
The third rule in (1) introduces a position into the phrase called the adjunct. Given
that we have yet to introduce these elements we will put off discussion of this rule
until section 1.3. where we will give a fuller account of both adjuncts and the
adjunction rule.
The first rule (1a) is called the complement rule, as it introduces the structural
position for the complement (the YP of this rule). The structure it defines is given
below:
(2)
X'
X
YP
There are several things to note about this structure. First there are two immediate
constituents of the X'(pronounced “X bar”): X, which is called the head of the phrase
and the complement YP. The complement, which, as its label suggests is a phrase of
any possible category, follows the head. This is a fact about English and in other
languages the complement may precede the head.
Chapter 3 - Basic Concepts of Syntactic Theory
Whether it precedes or follows the complement, the head is the central element of
the phrase and is a word of the same category as the X'
. Thus, if the head is an
adjective, the X'will be an A'and if the head is a complementiser the X'will be a C'
.
Here are some structures that conform to this pattern:
(3)
V'
V
N'
PP
speak
N
to me king
P'
PP
P
of Spain on
D'
DP
D
the right the
NP
shame of it
Note that, although these are constituents of different types, they all have a very
similar pattern: the head is on the left and the complement is on the right. This is
exactly what the X-bar rules were proposed to account for. It is clearly the case that
there are cross-categorial generalisations to be made and if constituents were described
by the rewrite rules of the kind given in chapter 2, where for each type of constituent
there is a specific rule, it would be impossible to capture obvious similarities between
phrases.
The rule in (1b) is the specifier rule, as it introduces a structural position called the
specifier (the YP of this rule). The structure it defines is as below:
(4)
XP
YP
X'
Again there are several things to note about this structure. Once more, there are two
immediate constituents of the phrase. The specifier, a phrase of any category, precedes
the X'
, the constituent just discussed containing the head and the complement. Again
the ordering of these two constituents is language dependent: specifiers precede X'
s in
English, but this is not necessarily so in all languages. Specifiers are a little more
difficult to exemplify than complements due to complications that we have yet to
discuss. However, the following are fairly straightforward cases:
(5)
DP
VP
DP
D'
the king’s
every wish
DP
V'
the bubbles rise to the surface
The specifier of the DP is the possessor and this precedes the D'constituted of the
determiner and its complement. The VP in (5) is exemplified in the following
sentence:
(6)
we watched [the bubbles rise to the surface]
This VP has many things in common with a clause and indeed it looks very much like
one. We will discuss the difference between the two in a subsequent chapter. The
important point to note is that the theme argument of the verb (the argument
undergoing the process described by the verb – in this case, the bubbles) occupies the
specifier position of the VP as defined by the rule in (1b).
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X-bar Theory
Note that the X'and the phrase share the same categorial status (X) and so if X'is
P'XP will be PP, etc. As X'is the same category as the head, it follows that the whole
phrase will be of the same category as the head. In this way, the head of the phrase
determines the phrase’s category.
The property of sharing category between the head, the X'and the phrase is called
projection. We say that the head projects its categorial status to the X'and ultimately
to the XP. If we put the two parts of the structure together, we can more clearly see
how projection works:
(7)
VP
DP
the children
V'
V
PP
fall
over
The line of projection proceeds from the head, via the X'to the phrase thus ensuring
that phrases and heads match.
The meaning of the ‘bar’ can be seen in terms of the notion of projection. We can
imagine a phrase as a three-floored building, with a ground floor, a first floor and a top
floor. On the ground floor we have the head, which is not built on top of anything – it
is an unprojected element. Often heads are called zero level projections, to indicate
that they are not projected from anything. This can be represented as X0.
Above the head, we have the X'
, the first projection of the head. The bar then
indicates the projection level of the constituent: X'is one projection level above X0.
On the top floor we have the phrase, XP. This is the highest level projected from
the head and hence it is called the maximal projection. Another way of representing
the maximal projection is X'
'
, an X with two bars (pronounced ‘X double bar’), with
the bars again representing the projection level. It seems that all phrases project to two
levels and so we will not entertain the possibility of X'
'
'
, or X'
'
'
'
, etc. Typically we will
maintain the custom of representing the maximal projection as XP.
1.2
Endocentricity
An obvious consequence of the notion of projection is that we will never get a phrase
of one category with a head of another. While this might seem a slightly perverse
situation to want to prevent in the first place (why would verb phrases be headed by
anything other than a verb?), it is certainly a logical possibility that there could be
phrases of category X which do not contain a word of category X. For example the
traditional view that preposition phrases can function adverbially could be captured
under the following assumption:
(8)
AP → P DP
In other words, a preposition phrase which behaves as an adverbial phrase is an adverb
phrase headed by the preposition. Clearly this is something that would not be allowed
by the X-bar rules in (1). Evidence favours the X-bar perspective and there is no
reason to believe that just because something functions adverbially it is categorially the
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Chapter 3 - Basic Concepts of Syntactic Theory
same as an adverb. For example, even when PPs are used adverbially, they still have
different distributions to AP:
(9)
a we met [AP secretly]
b we [AP secretly] met
we met [PP in secret]
*we [PP in secret] met
As we see in (9), a PP modifier of a verb must follow it, while an AP modifier may
precede or follow it, even if the two modifiers have virtually the same interpretation.
Thus a phrase headed by a preposition has a different categorial status to one headed
by an adverb, supporting the X-bar claim that phrases have heads of the appropriate
kind.
Moreover, the X-bar rules in (1) rule out another possibility if we assume that these
are the only rules determining structure. While it might not make much sense to have a
phrase with a head of a different category, the idea of a phrase that simply lacks a head
is not so absurd. There is a traditional distinction made between endocentric and
exocentric language elements. An endocentric phrase gets its properties from an
element that it contains and hence this element can function by itself as the whole
phrase. For example:
(10) a I saw [three blind mice]
b I saw [mice]
An exocentric phrase on the other hand contains no element that can have the same
function as the whole phrase and so appears to have properties that are independent
from the elements it contains. A standard example is:
(11) a we saw him [in the park]
b *we saw him [in]
c *we saw him [the park]
The issue is rather complex. The traditional view mixes category and function in a
way that is perhaps not helpful. The point is, however, that the X-bar rules in (1) claim
that, categorially, all phrases are endocentric: in other words, all phrases have heads
which determine their categorial nature.
There is one grammatical construction that seems at first to stand outside the X-bar
system precisely in that it lacks a head: the clause. Certainly from a functional
perspective the clause contains no element that could replace the whole construction:
neither the subject nor the VP can function as clauses by themselves:
(12) a [Susan] [shot Sam]
b [Susan]
c [shot Sam]
The examples in (12) all have very different natures, even categorially.
It might be argued that sometimes VPs can act as clauses:
(13)
get out!
However, such expressions have a special status and there is more to them than
appears at the surface. The sentence in (13) is an imperative construction in which
there appears to be no subject. However it is fairly clear that there is a definite subject
90
X-bar Theory
understood in this sentence: you! An imperative cannot be interpreted as a command
given to some third person and must be interpreted as directed towards the addressee.
The question is then, what is the status of the subject of such sentences: are they only
‘understood’, present at some semantic level or are they merely ‘unpronounced’
though present at the grammatical level?
There is reason to believe that language makes much use of unpronounced
elements that are nonetheless present grammatically and we will see many examples of
such things in the following pages. One argument to support the assumption of an
unpronounced subject in (13) comes from observations concerning the behaviour of
reflexive pronouns such as himself. Unlike other pronouns, reflexives must refer to
something else in the same sentence:
(14) a Sue said Fred fancies himself
b Sue said Fred fancies her
In (14a) himself can only be interpreted as referring to Fred and cannot, for
example, be taken to mean someone else not mentioned in the sentence. Compare this
to the behaviour of her in (14b). In this case the pronoun may either be taken as
referring to Sue or to some other woman. We can say therefore that reflexive pronouns
must have grammatical antecedents: some element present in the sentence which
provides the reflexive with its reference. With this in mind, consider the following
observations
(15) a Pete ate the pie by himself
b Pete ate the pie by itself
(16) a eat the pie by yourself!
b Pete ate
c *Pete ate by itself
As we see from (15), a by phrase containing a reflexive is interpreted to mean
‘unaccompanied’. In (15a), the reflexive refers to Pete and so it means that he was
unaccompanied in eating the pie. In contrast, in (15b) the reflexive refers to the pie and
so it means that the pie was unaccompanied (by ice cream for example) when Pete ate
it. (16a) is grammatical even though there is no apparent antecedent for the reflexive.
It is not surprising that the reflexive should be yourself however, as, as we have said,
the understood subject of an imperative is you. Yet we cannot simply say that the
antecedent ‘being understood’ is enough to satisfy the requirements of the reflexive as
(16c) is ungrammatical. In this case the object is absent, though it is clearly understood
that something was eaten in (16b). But this understanding is not enough to license the
use of the reflexive in this case. So we conclude that the missing subject in (16a) is
different from the missing object in (16c) and in particular that the missing subject has
a more definite presence than the missing object. This would be so if the missing
subject were present as an unpronounced grammatical entity while the missing object
is absent grammatically and present only at the semantic level. In conclusion then,
while imperatives might look like VP clauses which lack subjects, they are in fact full
clauses with unpronounced subjects.
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Chapter 3 - Basic Concepts of Syntactic Theory
If the VP cannot be argued to function as a clause, one might try to argue that
clauses and subjects have certain things in common. For example, a clause can act as a
subject:
(17)
[that ice cream production has again slumped] is bad news for the jelly industry
But this does not show that subjects are functional equivalent to clauses but quite the
opposite: clauses may be functionally equivalent to subjects under certain
circumstances.
Therefore it would appear that clauses are exocentric constructions, having no
heads, and as such stand outside of the X-bar system. Later in this book, we will
challenge this traditional conclusion and claim that clauses do indeed have heads,
though the head is neither the subject nor the VP. From this perspective, X-bar theory
is a completely general theory applying to all constructions of the language and given
that X-bar theory consists of just three rules it does indeed seem that I-language
principles are a lot simpler than observation of E-language phenomena would tend to
suggest.
1.3
Heads and Complements
But if the structural rules of the grammar are themselves so general as to not make
reference to categories how do categorial features come to be in structures? One would
have thought that if all the grammar is constructed from are rules that tell us how
phrases are shaped in general, then there should only be one kind of phrase: an XP.
To see how categorial information gets into structure we must look more closely at
heads and the notion of projection. We have seen how heads project their properties to
the X'and thence to XP, the question we must ask therefore is where do heads get their
properties from? The main point to realise is that the head is a word position and
words are inserted into head positions from the lexicon. In chapter 1 we spent quite
some time reviewing the lexical properties of words, including their categorial
properties. These, we concluded, are specified for every lexical item in terms of
categorial features ([±F, ±N, ±V]). If we now propose that a head’s categorial features
are projected from the lexical element that occupies the head position we can see that
phrases of different categories are the result of different lexical elements being inserted
into head positions.
One way to envisage this is to think of X-bar rules as building a general X-bar
structure devoid of categorial properties. So we might start with the following:
(18)
XP
YP
X'
X
YP
We then populate this structure by inserting words into it from the lexicon and
these bring along with them their categorial features. Suppose we insert the verb fall
into the head position, as this is categorised [–F, –N, +V] (i.e. verb) these will project
to the head position:
92
X-bar Theory
(19)
XP
YP
X'
V
YP
fall
These features then project to the X'
:
(20)
XP
YP
V'
V
YP
fall
And finally they end up on the maximal projection:
(21)
VP
YP
V'
V
YP
fall
In this way we can see that categorial features are actually projected into structures
from the lexicon. This makes a lot of sense given that categorial properties are to a
large extent idiosyncratic to the words involved in an expression and are not easily
predicted without knowing what words a sentence is constructed from. Things which
are predictable, such as that all phrases have heads which may be flanked by a
specifier to its left and a complement to its right, are what are expressed by the X-bar
rules. Thus we have a major split between idiosyncratic properties, which rightly
belong in the lexicon, and general and predictable properties which rightly belong in
the grammar.
The structure in (21) is still incomplete however and we must now consider how to
complete it. Let us concentrate firstly on the complement position. At the moment this
is expressed by the general phrase symbol YP. This tells us that only a phrasal element
can sit here, but it does not tell us what category that phrase must be. Yet, it is clear
that we cannot insert a complement of just any category into this position:
(22) a fell [PP off the shelf]
b *fell [DP the cliff]
c *fell [VP jumped over the cliff]
This restriction clearly does not come from the X-bar rules as these state that
complements can be of any category, which in general is absolutely true. But in
specific cases, there must be specific complements. Again it is properties of heads
93
Chapter 3 - Basic Concepts of Syntactic Theory
which determine this. Recall that part of the lexical entry for a word concerns its
subcategorisation. The subcategorisation frame of a lexical element tells us what kind
of complement there can be. For fall, for instance, it is specified that the complement
is prepositional:
(23)
category: [–F, –N +V]
-grid:
<theme,
path>
subcat:
prepositional
fall
Thus through the notion of subcategorisation, the head imposes restrictions on the
complement position, allowing only elements of a certain category to occupy this
position:
(24)
VP
YP
V'
V
PP
fall
As we know that the complement must be prepositional, we also know by the
general principles of X-bar theory that only a preposition could be inserted into the
head position of this phrase and the lexical properties of this head will, in turn, impose
restrictions on what can appear in its complement position:
(25)
VP
YP
V'
V
PP
fall
P'
P
DP
off
the shelf
In this structure, off is inserted into the head position of the PP complement of the verb
and as this preposition selects for a DP complement (as most of them do), only a
determiner could be inserted into the head position of this phrase. The determiner
would then impose restrictions on its complement, ensuring this to be an NP and hence
only a noun could be inserted into the head of the determiner’s complement.
Obviously, this could continue indefinitely, but in this case the process stops at this
point as the noun subcategorises for no complement.
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X-bar Theory
1.4
Specifiers
So far we have been concerned with heads and their complements. In this section we
turn to specifiers. As we said above the specifier position is a little more complex than
the complement for reasons which we will turn to in section 2.
In general we will find that specifiers are occupied by certain arguments of a
predicate or by elements with a certain specified property which relates to the head.
This second class of specifiers can only be discussed after a good deal more of the
grammar has been established, so we will put these to one side for the moment.
The argument specifiers tend to be subjects, though again this statement will need
much qualification as we proceed. One class of verb for which this is most
straightforward are those which have theme subjects:
(26) a a letter arrived
b the ship sank
c Garry is in the garden
Simplifying somewhat, we might claim that these arguments sit in the specifier of
the VP:
(27)
VP
DP
a letter
VP
V'
DP
V the ship
arrived
VP
V'
DP
V
Garry
sank
V'
V
PP
is
in the garden
These arguments are nearly always DPs and so, unlike the complement they do not
seem to be restricted differently by different heads in terms of their category. This is
reflected in the lexical entries of the relevant heads in the fact that subcategorised
elements are always complements and subjects are never subcategorised for. Of
course, there are restrictions placed on these specifier arguments from the predicate,
but of a more semantic nature. The verb assigns a -role to these arguments and so the
argument must be semantically compatible with the -role it has to bear. For example:
(28)
the complete works of Shakespeare arrived
The most natural interpretation for this sentence would be to interpret the subject the
complete works of Shakespeare as a book or set of manuscripts, i.e. something
concrete rather than the artistic pieces of work themselves. Only if one was speaking
about arriving in a metaphorical sense could one claim that one of Shakespeare’s plays
had ‘arrived’ after he had written it.
This is different from the situation facing complements where there are both semantic
and categorial restrictions placed on them. For example consider the following difference:
(29) a Arthur asked what the time was
Arthur asked the time
b Wonder woman wondered what the time was
*Wonder woman wondered the time
95
Chapter 3 - Basic Concepts of Syntactic Theory
The verbs ask and wonder both have questions as their complements, but only with
ask can this question be expressed by a DP like the time. Thus there are extra
restrictions imposed on complements which go beyond the requirement that they be
compatible with the -role that is assigned to them. In short, specifiers are more
generally restricted than complements as they tend to be a uniform category for
different heads and merely have to be compatible with the meaning of the head.
1.5
Adjuncts
It is now time to turn to the third rule in (1), which we repeat here:
(30)
Xn → Xn, Y/YP
This is different from the previous two rules in a number of ways. First, the previous
rules specified the possible constituents of the various specific projections of the head:
complements are immediate constituents of X' and specifiers are immediate
constituents of XP. The adjunction rule in (30) is more general as it states the possible
constituents of an Xn, that is, an X with any number of bars. In other words, Xn stands
for XP (=X'
'
), X'or X (=X0). The adjunct itself is defined either as a word (Y) or as a
phrase (YP) and we will see that which of these is relevant depends on the status of Xn:
if Xn is a word, then the adjunct is a word, if not then the adjunct is a phrase.
Note that the two elements on the right of the rewrite arrow are separated by a
comma. This is missing from the complement and specifier rule. The significance of
the comma is to indicate that the order between the adjunct and the Xn is not
determined by the rule. We have seen that in English the complement follows the head
and the specifier precedes it. Adjuncts, on the other hand, it will be seen, may precede
or follow the head depending on other conditions, which we will detail when looking
at specific instances of adjunction.
The final thing to note is that the adjunction rule is recursive: the same symbol
appears on the left and the right of the rewrite arrow. Thus the rule tells us that an
element of type Xn can be made up of two elements, one of which is an adjunct and the
other is another Xn. Of course, this Xn may also contain another Xn, and so on
indefinitely. In this way, any number of adjuncts may be added to a structure.
1.5.1 Adjunction to X-bar
Let us take an example to demonstrate how this might work. We know that an
adjectival phrase can be used to modify a noun, as in:
(31) a smart student
b vicious dog
c serious mistake
It is clear that the noun is the head of this construction as it can act as the complement
of a determiner and determiners take nominal complements, not adjectival ones:
(32) a the [NP serious error]
b the [NP error]
c *the [AP serious]
The bracketed elements in (32a) and (b) have the same distribution and hence we can
conclude they have the same categorial status. As this phrase in (32b) contains only a
96
X-bar Theory
noun, we conclude that it is an NP. In (32c) however, the phrase following the
determiner contains only an adjective and is ungrammatical. This clearly has a
different distribution to the other two phrases, indicating that the adjective in (32a) is
not the head of this phrase.
It is also possible to conclude that the adjective is not a complement of the head
noun as it does not follow the noun and as we have seen, in English, all complements
follow their heads.
The other possibility is that the adjective functions as a specifier within the NP and
as specifiers precede their heads, this seems more likely. Yet there are properties of the
adjective that make it an unlikely specifier. As we saw, specifiers of thematic heads
tend to be arguments of those heads. The adjective is obviously not an argument of the
noun as it does not bear a thematic role assigned by the noun. Furthermore, specifiers
are limited to a single occurrence and there cannot be more than one of them:
(33) a the letter arrived
b the postman arrived
c *the letter the postman arrived
However, there can be more than one adjectival modifier of a noun:
(34) a popular smart student
b big evil vicious dog
c solitary disastrous unforgivable serious mistake
Thus, the adjectival modifier is an adjunct of the noun. We will argue in a later
chapter that adjectival modifiers follow the specifier of the NP and hence adjectival
phrases are attached in a position between the specifier and the head. As we see in the
following, this puts them as adjuncts to the N'
:
(35)
NP
spec
N'
AP
N'
smart
N
student
The part of the structure containing the AP is recursive with an N'as the mother
and an N'as one of the daughters. This means that there is room for more APs, as
demonstrated by (36):
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Chapter 3 - Basic Concepts of Syntactic Theory
(36)
NP
spec
N'
AP
N'
popular AP
N'
smart
N
student
This could go on indefinitely with each adjunct introducing an N'which itself
contains an adjunct and another N'and hence any number of adjuncts could be added
to the structure, which appears to be the correct treatment of adjuncts.
1.5.2 Adjunction to phrase
We can exemplify adjunction to a phrase with a certain type of relative clause.
Relative clauses are clauses which are used to modify nouns:
(37) a the queen, [who was Henry VIII’s daughter]
b the sun, [which is 93 million miles from the earth]
c my mother, [who was a successful racing driver]
These clauses are not complements of the nouns, the nouns in (37) all being
intransitive, and cannot be specifiers as they follow the head. Like AP adjuncts, they
are recursive, demonstrating a clear property of an adjunct:
(38)
book, [which I was telling you about], [which I haven’t read]
We will see in a later chapter that there is reason to believe that these types of
relative clause are adjoined to the NP rather than the N'
:
(39)
NP
NP
RelS
N'
which I told you about
N
book
In this case it is the NP that is recursive, the top NP node contains the relative
clause and another NP. This means that there is room for further relative clauses:
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X-bar Theory
(40)
NP
NP
RelS
NP
RelS
which I didn’t read
N'
which I told you about
N
book
Again, we could keep adding NPs and relative clauses indefinitely, each relative clause
adjoined to a successively higher NP. Incidentally, note that here we see that adjuncts
may appear on different sides of the element that they modify. While an AP adjunct
precedes the N'
, the relative clause follows the P.
1.5.3 Adjunction to head
Finally, we will consider the case of adjunction to a head, using compound nouns for
an example. There are a number of complexities which we will not go into here,
sticking to more straightforward cases. Compound nouns are formed by putting two
otherwise independent elements, usually an adjective and a noun or two nouns,
together and use the resulting unit as a single noun:
(41) a
b
c
d
e
armchair
breastplate
luncheon meat
blackbird
tallboy
Sometimes the spelling indicates that the two parts of the noun are put together to
form one word, but other times it does not. We will not delve into the mysteries of
English spelling here. Note that when compounds are formed from an adjective and a
noun, the noun is second. Moreover, if there is a main semantic element of the two
parts of the compound, this is also the second element: an armchair is a kind of chair
not a kind of arm. We might claim therefore that the second element is the head and
the first is a modifier of the head. The structures we get are:
(42)
N
N
N
N
A
N
arm
chair
tall
boy
Given that the second noun is the head, it follows that the first element is an
adjunct to the head. In principle, we should be able to get multiple head adjuncts by
the same recursive process as we have noted with other adjuncts. However in practice
it is not so common to find multiple compound nouns of this type. It is more common
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Chapter 3 - Basic Concepts of Syntactic Theory
to find the adjunct itself being made up of a compound, which has a very different
structure. Compare the following:
(43) a computer hard disk
b ballpoint pen
In both cases the last noun is the head, but the adjuncts are related in different ways. In
(43a), the adjective hard modifies the head to form a compound hard disk. We then
add the second adjunct which modifies this. Thus we have the structure:
(44)
N
N
N
computer A
N
hard
disk
In (43b) on the other hand, we have a compound made up of ball and point, with
the latter as the head. This compound is then used as an adjunct in the compound
ballpoint pen, giving the following structure:
(45)
N
N
N
N
N
ball
point
pen
An interesting point to note is that the adjunct to a head is always a head itself,
which differs from the previous cases of adjunction we looked at above. Adjuncts
adjoined to X'or XP are always phrases. It has been suggested that this is due to a
restriction on adjunction such that only like elements can adjoin: heads to heads,
phrases to phrases. If this is true, then X'adjunction should not be possible as the
adjunct differs in its X-bar status to the X'
, being a phrase. We will not accept this
point of view however and assume that while only heads can adjoin to heads, phrases
can adjoin to any constituent larger than a head.
1.6
Summary
Before moving on to look at other aspects of syntactic processes, let us consolidate
what we have said in this section. X-bar theory is a theory of basic structure
comprising of just three rules. These rules are generally applicable to all structures and
substructures, no matter what their category: they are category neutral. The categorial
status of a specific structure depends on the lexical elements it contains, in particular
one word acts as the head of each phrase and this determines the category of the phrase
by projecting its own categorial properties, established in the lexicon, to the X'node
above it and ultimately to the XP.
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Theoretical Aspects of Movement
The three X-bar rules introduce three elements besides the head. The complement
is introduced as the sister of the head. It always follows the head and is restricted by
the head’s subcategorisation requirements. Thus, if a head selects for a PP
complement, the complement must be a PP. The specifier is introduced as the sister to
X'and daughter of XP. Specifiers precede the head and are restricted to one per
phrase. The last element of the phrase, the adjunct, can be introduced at any X-bar
level: X, X'and XP. This element expands what it is adjoined to into another element
of the same type. Therefore the process is recursive and in principle any number of
adjuncts can be added to a structure.
We will have far more to say about X-bar structures as we proceed through this
book and many more examples of heads, complements, specifiers and adjuncts will be
provided. However, all of these will conform to the basic principles set out here and as
such the theory of structure provided by X-bar principles is an extremely general and
explanatory one.
2
Theoretical Aspects of Movement
Consider a sentence such as the following:
(46)
who does Harry hate?
The verb hate typically has two arguments, experiencer and theme, and is transitive
with the theme as its object:
(47)
Harry hates him
But in (46) the object appears to be missing. This is not a case of an ‘understood’
object, where the argument is present at a semantic level, as it is fairly obvious that the
interrogative pronoun who has the grammatical function of the object. Yet, this
pronoun is not sitting in the canonical object position, the complement of the verb,
directly after it. Indeed, the interrogative pronoun is occupying a position that no other
object can occupy:
(48)
*him does Harry hate
The obvious questions to ask are: why is the object sitting at the front of the
sentence in (46)?; and how is the interrogative pronoun interpreted as an object when it
is not sitting in an object position? As to the first question the obvious answer is that it
has something to do with the interrogative nature of the clause: the clause is a question
and interrogative clauses of this kind start with an interrogative phrase such as who.
The second question is a little more difficult to answer. In English, an element
typically is interpreted as object depending on the position it occupies:
(49) a Harry hates him
b He hates Harry
In (49a), the pronoun him is interpreted as the object as it is sitting in the complement
position. Harry on the other hand is the subject and is sitting in a specifier position. In
(49b) it is the other way round: He is the subject, sitting in the specifier position, and
Harry is the object, sitting in the complement position. If who in (46) is interpreted as
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Chapter 3 - Basic Concepts of Syntactic Theory
object, we should expect it to occupy the object position. The grammar that we will be
adopting in this book assumes that this is exactly the case: the interrogative pronoun
does indeed sit in the object position at some level of description of this sentence.
However, at another level of description, the interrogative pronoun is in another
position, one at the beginning of the clause. The assumption then is that this element
undergoes a movement which takes it from the object position into the sentence initial
position.
Movement processes turn out to be a central aspect of grammar in many languages
and we will see many instances of it in this book. In this section we will introduce the
main theoretical considerations relating to movement processes and which play a role
in the description of virtually all English sentences.
2.1
Move
Once the idea has been put forward that things can move about within a sentence, we
can see that it can be applied to a lot of linguistic phenomena:
(50) a
b
c
d
the water was wasted
is this the end?
this conclusion, virtually no one has ever come to
the plans were released for the new car park
In the first case in (50) we have a passive sentence in which the subject is interpreted
as the object: the water was what was wasted, not what did the wasting. We might
claim that in this case the object moves from object position into subject position:
(51) a
-
was wasted the water
b the water was wasted
-
In (50b) we have what is termed a yes–no question, as it may be answered with a
simple “yes” or “no”. These questions typically involve subject–auxiliary inversion,
in which the auxiliary verb and the subject appear to switch places. A more current
view of the inversion process is that the auxiliary moves to a position to the left of the
subject:
(52) a - this is the end
b is this - the end
(50c) involves topicalisation, a process which moves an element interpreted as a
topic to the front of the sentence. A topic is typically something that has already been
mentioned before in a conversation, or can be interpreted as easily accessible in a
conversation due to the context. Consider the sentence in (50c), it is obvious that the
conclusion mentioned must have been a part of the preceding discussion and that it has
not just been newly introduced. We may analyse this sentence as:
(53) a
-
virtually no one has ever come to this conclusion
b this conclusion, virtually no one has ever come to
102
-
Theoretical Aspects of Movement
Finally in (50d) we see another kind of movement which appears to split a
constituent across the structure. The preposition phrase for the new car park, is clearly
related to the noun plans. Indeed, this PP is the complement of the noun:
(54)
the plans for the new car park
However, the PP appears to have been moved out of the subject DP into the
sentence final position. This process is known as extraposition:
(55) a the plans for the new car park were released
b the plans
–
–
were released for the new car park
As we saw in the previous section grammatical processes should be stated as
simply and generally as possible if we are to provide a theory that can cover the basic
fact of language learnability. This would argue against an approach to movement in
which we provide many movement rules designed to capture the specific facts about
individual movements. Instead we should follow the example of the previous section
and provide a small number of general rules which have a wide applicability.
In fact the general assumption is that there is just one movement rule, usually
called Move which can be stated as:
(56)
Move
Move anything anywhere.
This might not seem a very wise kind of rule to allow in a grammar as it would seem
to sanction complete chaos and English does not appear to be anything near chaotic in
its grammatical organisation.
The rule in (56) indeed would sanction chaos if this were all there was to say about
movement. However there is a good deal more to be said. Let us take X-bar structures
into consideration. When an object moves to subject position in a passive construction
it is moving from one DP position to another: complement of the verb to specifier
position. Simplifying somewhat, we might suppose the following analysis:
(57)
VP
DP
V'
the water V
was
VP
DP
V'
-
V
wasted
Here the main verb wasted takes its argument in the specifier position of its own
phrase. This phrase is in turn the complement of the auxiliary verb was. The argument
moves from the specifier of the lower verb to that of the higher one.
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Chapter 3 - Basic Concepts of Syntactic Theory
The structure we end up with is one that is perfectly compatible with X-bar
principles. In other words, the movement seems not to have radically altered the
structure. Suppose we assume a restriction on all movements, that they cannot alter
structures in a way that would violate basic X-bar principles:
(58)
Structure Preservation Principle
no movement can alter the basic X-bar nature of structure
This would rule out immediately a very large class of movements possible under the
assumption of (56).
The important point to recognise is that the assumption of (56) and the imposition
of a restriction such as (58) offer a far simpler and general theory of what can move
where than would a theory that was made up of lots of specific rules telling us what
can move where and under what conditions in particular cases. Of course, (56) and
(58) together still do not constitute a particularly accurate theory of movement and
there are still many movements allowed under these assumptions that do not actually
occur. However, even if we add five or ten more restrictions of the kind in (58) we
would still have a more general theory of movement than the literally hundreds of
movement rules that would be required to describe specific cases of movements. We
will see that the number of restrictions required to capture the majority of facts about
movement is surprisingly small.
2.2
D-structure and S-structure
An immediate consequence of accepting movements as a part of grammatical
description is that there are at least two levels that we can describe the structure of any
sentence: a level before movement takes place and a level after movement has taken
place.
(59)
structure
movement
structure
The difference between the two levels of structural description will simply be the
positions that the moved elements occupy, given the above assumption that
movements do not actually alter the structure. For example, consider the following two
sentences:
(60) a Mary met Mark in the park
b in the park, Mary met Mark
In (60a) the PP in the park is an adjunct to the VP, modifying the VP by adding
information about where the meeting took place. In (60b) the PP has moved to the
front of the sentence, in a similar way to that in which topics are moved to the front.
We can call this movement preposing. Before the preposing takes place, the PP is in
its VP adjoined position:
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Theoretical Aspects of Movement
(61)
S
DP
VP
Mary
VP
PP
met Mark
in the park
After the movement, the structure will look like this:
(62)
S
PP
S
in the park DP
Mary
VP
VP
-
met Mark
We call the structure before movement takes place, a D-structure and the postmovement structure an S-structure. The ‘D’ and the ‘S’ originally stood for deep and
surface, reflecting the fact that S-structures represent an ordering of the elements
which is closer to that which holds in the externalisation of the sentence (its
pronunciation, or whatever) while D-structures represent an abstract level of
description more deeply embedded in the analysis. However, the words deep and
surface have unfortunate connotations which may lead to misunderstanding. Deep, for
example, can be taken to mean ‘meaningful’ or ‘ponderous’, while surface can mean
‘superficial’ or ‘apparent’. It would be wrong however to come to the conclusion that
deep-structure is somehow more important or that surface-structure is irrelevant. These
terms should be taken simply as referring to the two levels of the description of a
sentence and neither one nor the other is any more important than the other. This is
why the more neutral terms D-structure and S-structure are used and we will follow
this tradition.
2.2.1 D-structure and Theta Theory
Let us consider the nature of D- and S-structure a little more closely. An obvious
question is why it is that some elements start off in one position and then move to
another. To answer this question we have to ask about why elements occupy the
positions they do at any level of description. This is a matter of distribution: there are
grammatical principles which determine the range of possible positions of categories
of certain types. X-bar principles obviously have a large role to play in this,
determining head, complement, specifier and adjunction positions. But as both D- and
S-structures conform to X-bar principles, this clearly is not what differentiates the two.
Obviously there must be other grammatical principles holding at D-structure which are
not applicable at S-structure and vice versa.
A D-structure principle may then require a constituent X to occupy a certain
position and an S-structure principle may require X to occupy a certain position, and if
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Chapter 3 - Basic Concepts of Syntactic Theory
these two positions are not the same then X will have to move from its D-structure
position to the required S-structure position. Thus, explaining movement is a matter of
finding out the principles which determine the distribution of elements at D- and Sstructure.
Turning to D-structure first, an important consideration which has been present in
all developments of this concept, first proposed by Noam Chomsky in the 1950s, is
that D-structure positions are somehow basic. For example, in a passive sentence, what
sits in the subject position at S-structure is interpreted as the object of the verb and
hence is assumed to occupy the object position at D-structure:
(63)
S-structure:
D-structure:
Ken was confused
was confused Ken
The idea is that the way an element is interpreted in terms of its thematic status
indicates its D-structure position and thus if something is interpreted as an object it
will be in an object position at D-structure. Moreover, an element that is interpreted as
the subject or object of a predicate will be in the relevant subject or object position of
that predicate at D-structure:
(64)
S-structure:
D-structure:
Ken was considered to be confused
was considered to be confused Ken
In this example, although Ken is sitting in the subject position of the verb consider,
this element is interpreted as the object of confused and thus is in the object position of
this predicate at D-structure.
D-structure then is a pure representation of thematic relations. Anything which is
interpreted as the subject or object of a given predicate will be in the subject or object
position of that predicate at D-structure no matter where it is found at S-structure.
The principles that determine D-structure positions must therefore have something
to do with thematic relationships. We saw in chapter 1 how -roles are encoded in the
lexical entry of predicates. Yet in a sentence it is the arguments that are interpreted as
bearing these -roles. It must be the case therefore that these -roles are given from
the predicate to the argument. We can refer to this process as -role assignment. For
example:
theme
(65) a [an unexpected package] arrived
agent
patient
b [Melanie] mended [the car]
The verb arrive is a one-place predicate, having one -role to assign which it assigns
to the argument an unexpected package in (65a). The verb mend is a two-place
predicate. It assigns the agent role to its subject and the patient role to its object.
Where can a predicate assign its -roles to? If there were no restrictions on this
then arguments would not have distributions at D-structure as they could appear
anywhere. We are assuming that this is not so and hence there must be conditions
which determine where -roles can be assigned. One fairly clear condition on -role
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Theoretical Aspects of Movement
assignment that can be seen in (64) is that -roles are not assigned over long distances.
For an argument to receive a -role from a predicate it must be close to it. We can see
this from the fact that the following sentence has just one interpretation:
(66)
Sophie suspects that Linda loves Dwain
We can only interpret this sentence with Sophie doing the suspecting, Linda doing
the loving and Dwain getting loved and there is no way to get Sophie associated with
love or Linda and Dwain with suspect. This is simply because Sophie is structurally
closer to suspect and Linda and Dwain are close to love. If love could assign its roles over long distances, Sophie might be able to be interpreted as one of its
arguments.
We will adopt the following restrictive condition on -role assignment:
(67)
the Locality Restriction on Theta-role Assignment
a predicate assigns its -roles to either its complement or its specifier
According to (67), the structural configuration for all
follows:
(68)
-role assignment is as
XP
YP
X'
X
YP
It is a long standing assumption that there is a uniformity in -role assignment
which links certain -roles to certain positions. The reason why the object is assumed
to move in a passive sentence is precisely because of this assumption. In an active
sentence the object occupies the object position, following the verb, and so it is
assumed that in the passive sentence the argument that is interpreted identically to the
object in the active originates from the same position that we see it in in the active:
(69) a Monika
munched the sandwich
b
was munched the sandwich
c the sandwich was munched
= active
= D-structure of passive
= S-structure of passive
Thus it is assumed that there is a uniform position to which the patient -role is
assigned across different structures. We will actually adopt a very rigid form of this
idea which was first proposed by Baker (1988), called the Uniform Theta-role
Assignment Hypothesis (UTAH):
(70)
the Uniform Theta-role Assignment Hypothesis
a -role Þ is assigned in the same structural configuration in all structures in
which it is present
Thus, if we propose that the theme argument is assigned to the specifier of the verb
it is related to in a structure such as:
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Chapter 3 - Basic Concepts of Syntactic Theory
(71)
VP
DP
V'
the book V
theme fell
PP
off the shelf
Then it follows from the UTAH that all themes in all structures will be assigned to the
specifier of the verb that they are related to. We will see that this is a very restrictive
theory of -role assignment that will force certain analyses of structures which, while
not at first obvious, turn out to have a number of positive features which go to support
them and in turn this supports the assumption of the UTAH in the first place.
There are other aspects of the assignment of -roles than those to do with where
they are assigned. We saw in chapter 1 that for some predicates an argument that they
select as a lexical property does not have to be realised as a syntactic entity but may be
present only at a semantic level. Such an argument would be understood, but unable to
play any role in a sentence such as licensing a reflexive pronoun:
(72) a Paul ate the pie by itself
b *Paul ate by itself
This means that certain -roles do not have to be assigned within a structure.
However, the same is not true for other predicates:
(73) a Fiona found the book
b *Fiona found
c *found the book
It is not well understood what determines when a -role may be left understood, but it
seems to be an idiosyncratic property of certain predicates. It is generally the case that
-roles must be assigned. The -role assigned to the subject, for example, cannot be
left as understood. Therefore we might propose that there is a general grammatical
condition ensuring the assignment of -roles, unless they are marked in the lexical
entry of a predicate as being able to be understood. Moreover, a theta role can only be
assigned to one argument and cannot be ‘shared out’ between more than one:
(74)
*Fiona found the book the pen
We might propose the following condition on -role assignment:
(75)
a -role must be assigned to one and only one argument
Now if we turn our attention to the arguments themselves we note that it is not
possible to have an argument that is not assigned a -role:
(76) a Sam smiled
b *Sam smiled the cat
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Theoretical Aspects of Movement
The verb smile is intransitive and therefore does not have a -role to assign to an
object. If we provide this verb with an object, we therefore have an argument that
receives no -role, which as we see from (76) is ungrammatical. Moreover, an
argument cannot receive more than one -role. So if a predicate must assign more than
one -role, it cannot assign them both to the same argument:
(77) a Fred fancies himself
b *Fred fancies
If it were possible for one argument to bear both -roles of a predicate, (77b) would
mean the same thing as (77a) which has a reflexive pronoun in one argument position
taking its reference from the other argument. The unacceptability of (77b) can
therefore not be a semantic fact.
It is also not possible for an argument to bear two -roles assigned from different
predicates. Consider the following:
(78)
Knut knows Dennis danced
This sentence is grammatical, but only with the interpretation that what Knut knows is
that Dennis danced. In other words, the arguments of know are Knut, a DP, and Dennis
danced, a sentence in which Dennis is the argument of danced:
(79)
Knut knows [Dennis danced]
What is not possible is to interpret Dennis as being the one who is known and the one
who dances:
(80)
*Knut knows [Dennis] danced
Again this would involve one argument bearing more than one -role, which
appears to be impossible.
In addition to (75) therefore, we might propose the following restriction:
(81)
an argument must bear one and only one -role
Together the conditions in (75) and (81) are called the Theta Criterion:
(82)
The Theta Criterion
a -role must be assigned to one and only one argument
an argument must bear one and only one -role
We have now reviewed three simple and basic principles which regulate the assignment of -roles within a structure: the Locality Condition on Theta-role Assignment,
the UTAH and the Theta Criterion. All of these apply to D-structures, restricting the
distribution of arguments at this level of representation. Collectively, the principles
which govern -role assignment are often referred to as Theta Theory and this can be
considered as a part of the grammar, similar to the principles of X-bar theory which
regulate the general formation of structures. A final important contributor to the well109
Chapter 3 - Basic Concepts of Syntactic Theory
formedness conditions of D-structure is the lexicon which provides structures with
categorial information and Theta theory with the -roles to be assigned. We might
represent this in the following way:
(83)
Lexicon
X-bar theory
D-structure
Theta theory
movement
S-structure
2.2.2 S-structure and Case Theory
So far we have looked at some of the principles governing the distribution of arguments
at D-structure. In order to understand movement we must now consider some of the
principles that apply at S-structure which determine the distribution of arguments at
this level.
In chapter 2 we mentioned the grammatical notion of Case, pointing out that
certain pronouns in English have different Case forms. Nominative pronouns include
he, she, I and we while accusative pronouns are him, her, me and us. What determines
which form the pronoun appears in is apparently its S-structure position. If a pronoun
is the subject of a finite clause it will be nominative, anywhere else it is accusative (we
ignore the possessor position inside the DP which is associated with genitive Case:
his, her, my and our):
(84) a he has helped her
b I consider [him to be unkind to us]
In (84a) the clause is finite as tense is marked on the auxiliary verb. The subject he is
in the nominative form, not the accusative him. However, the object of the verb help,
her, is in the accusative not the nominative she. In (84b), while the main clause is
finite and has a nominative subject, I, the embedded clause is non-finite. This clause
has an accusative subject him. The object of the preposition in this clause is also
accusative, us.
Now consider the following example:
(85)
he was helped
The pronoun is in the subject of a finite clause and so naturally is in the
nominative. However, as this clause is passive, the pronoun originates from the object
position at D-structure. But this fact does not seem to have any bearing on the case of
the pronoun: the pronoun is nominative not accusative as a non-moved object would
be. Clearly, then, it is the position that a pronoun sits in at S-structure that determines
its case. We might claim therefore that there are positions which are Case positions,
specifically nominative positions and accusative positions, and there are positions
which are not Case positions.
But if there are nominative and accusative case positions, what are we to say about
the non-pronominal DPs that sit in these positions as no other DP demonstrates
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Theoretical Aspects of Movement
morphological Case distinctions? There are two things that we might say. One is that
Case positions are only Case positions when occupied by a pronominal DP. This
would be rather difficult to arrange however, as it appears that apart from the fact that
Cases are only visible on pronominals, what defines Case positions is fairly general:
the subject of a finite clause is nominative, the object position of a verb or preposition
is accusative and the subject position of a non-finite clause is accusative. It is not clear
how to include the presence of the pronominal into the definition of a case position.
The alternative is to claim that there are general case positions that are occupied by
any DP, but only some DPs show any morphological reflex of this. Obviously this is
the more general and simplest position and hence it is preferable unless there can be
demonstrated to be advantages of accepting that case positions are only defined in the
presence of a pronoun.
One reason to believe that case positions are generally defined but just
morphologically distinguished on certain elements is the fact that case is not
distinguished on all English pronouns. For example there is no distinction between
nominative and accusative for the pronoun it:
(86) a he eats it
b it eats him
The third person singular masculine pronoun demonstrates a Case distinction
between subject and object position in (86), but not the pronoun it. It would be
extremely difficult to account for why Case positions are only defined in the presence
of pronouns, except for it and would be much better to say that the Case position is
defined in the presence of it but this pronoun does not realise the distinction overtly. In
other words, it is the nominative form of this pronoun and it is the accusative form.
But once we have accepted this as a possibility it is reasonable to accept it for all other
nominal elements as well.
One way to view this situation is to separate two notions of Case. One notion of
Case, relating to the traditional view, is that Case has to do with the form a nominal
element takes dependent on its position or, in some languages, its function in a
sentence. We can call this phenomenon Morphological case. The other view of Case
is that this is something a DP gets simply by occupying a certain structural position,
whether or not it is realised overtly. We call this Abstract Case, or just Case (spelled
with a capital). From this perspective then, any DP that occupies the subject position
of a finite clause has nominative Case irrespective of whether that DP looks different
from what it would if it were sitting in an object position and bearing accusative Case.
One piece of support for this distinction comes from observations such as the
following:
(87) a
b
c
d
for her to be ready on time would be a miracle
*for she to be ready on time would be a miracle
*her to be ready on time would be a miracle
*she to be ready on time would be a miracle
In (87) we have a series of pronominal subjects of non-finite clauses. In the one
grammatical case the subject is accusative, demonstrating that this is an accusative
position. The ungrammaticality of the nominative pronoun in (87b) is therefore
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Chapter 3 - Basic Concepts of Syntactic Theory
understandable. That (87c) should be ungrammatical is interesting as here we have an
accusative pronoun. In this case the complementiser for is absent, indicating that this
element is in some way responsible for the accusative case in (87a) in which it is
present. This is understandable as this complementiser is similar to a preposition, and
in fact is often called the prepositional complementiser, and as we know, the
complement of prepositions is in the accusative. To account for this let us assume that
Case is rather like -roles and is assigned by certain elements to certain positions. The
prepositional complementiser therefore assigns accusative Case to the subject of the
non-finite clause that it introduces:
acc
(88)
[CP for [IP her to be ready …
Although this might explain why the subject has accusative Case in (87a) and
cannot have nominative Case in (87b), by itself it does not account for why (87c) and
(d) are ungrammatical. To understand what is going on here we must attend more
closely to the facts. Firstly the element that we have assumed to assign accusative Case
to this position is absent and so we might assume that no accusative Case is assigned
in these circumstances. Presumably whatever it is that assigns nominative Case is not
present in a non-finite clause. Therefore in this situation it seems that neither
accusative nor nominative case are assigned to the subject position.
But why would any of this mean that the sentence should be ungrammatical? Only
with an extra assumption can we account for this properly: the pronoun subject needs a
Case. One might think that this is fairly obvious as there is no Case neutral form of the
pronoun: what form would it take if it occupied a Caseless position? However, the
following observations seriously question the assumption that the ungrammaticalities
in (87) have anything to do with Morphological case:
(89) a for Rebecca to be ready on time would be a miracle
b *Rebecca to be ready on time would be a miracle
What we see here is that even a nominal element that does not display morphological
case distinctions cannot occupy a position to which no Case is assigned. Thus the
requirement that a nominal element have Case is nothing to do with the impossibility
of the choice of morphological form when no Case is assigned. Instead, it appears to
be a general requirement that all DPs must occupy a Case position. We call this
requirement the Case Filter:
(90)
the Case Filter
All DPs must be assigned Case
The fact that the Case Filter applies to all DPs and not just those that demonstrate
morphological case is strong evidence in favour of the assumption of Abstract Case.
Let us review what we have said so far. We started with the observation that the
position that a DP occupies at S-structure determines its Case. We then claimed that
Case is something applicable to all DPs and finally we proposed a general condition to
the effect that all DPs must receive Case. But putting all this together it is obvious that
the Case Filter can only operate at S-structure as, as we have seen, D-structure
positions are in general irrelevant for determining the Case of an element. Consider the
112
Theoretical Aspects of Movement
possibility that all the grammatical principles involved with Case and its assignment
are bundled together in a single Case theory, paralleling Theta Theory discussed
above. Case theory then applies to S-structure:
(91)
Lexicon
X-bar theory
D-structure
Theta theory
movement
S-structure
Case theory
While Theta theory accounts for the distribution of arguments at D-structure, it is the
principles of Case theory that account for the distribution of DP arguments at Sstructure.
We are now in a position to be able to understand at least certain aspects of
movement. Suppose that the principles of Theta theory determine that a DP argument
must sit in position X. Suppose further that position X is not a position to which Case
is assigned. If the DP remains in this position at S-structure, then the Case filter will be
violated and the structure will be deemed ungrammatical. If on the other hand the DP
can move to a position to which Case is assigned, then the movement will enable the
Case Filter to be satisfied and the structure to be grammatical. This kind of movement
might be said to be Case motivated and as we shall see, there are quite a few
movements which follow this pattern. This is not the only motivation for movements,
however, though we will not go into others at this point. The purpose of this section
has been mainly to demonstrate how the interaction of grammatical principles applying
at D-structure and S-structure can provide us with an understanding of movement
phenomena.
2.3
Traces
In the previous sections of this chapter we have concerned ourselves with the positions
in which elements originate at D-structure and the positions they move to at Sstructure. We might term these positions the Extraction site and the Landing site of a
moved element. What is the status of the landing site at D-structure and the extraction
site at S-structure? In (58) we introduced a restriction on movement called the
Structure Preservation principle, which states that movements are not allowed to alter
the basic X-bar nature of a structure. The result of this restriction is that the structure
cannot be much different between D- and S-structure. In particular, we would not
expect landing and extraction sites to appear at one level of representation but be
absent at another. Thus, if we consider a passive structure in which the object moves to
subject position, we can expect the object and subject positions to be present at both
D- and S-structure:
(92) a
[DP e]
was found [DP the hideout]
b [DP the hideout] was found
[DP e]
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D-structure
S-structure
Chapter 3 - Basic Concepts of Syntactic Theory
These representations indicate that the positions marked [DP e] are present in the
structure, but empty and thus the movement does not change the structure but merely
moves things about within the framework it provides.
There is reason to believe however, that the two empty positions in (92) are not the
same as they display different properties. Consider the empty subject position in (92a).
As this is a position to which something moves it would not be reasonable to think of
it as being filled by some other element before the movement takes place. If there were
something in this position at D-structure, presumably it would have to be deleted to
allow the object to move into the position as general principles of structure do not
allow two elements to occupy the same structural position. But if this element is
always deleted, how could we ever be aware of its existence, let alone its nature.
Moreover, if it were possible to delete elements in a structure to allow others to move
into the vacated positions, we would expect far more movement possibilities that we
actually observe. We would be able to move an object into a subject position of any
verb, not just the passive ones:
(93) a [DP the FBI] found [DP the hideout]
b *[DP the hideout] found [DP e]
Obviously, this is a situation we want to avoid and so we need to strengthen the
Structure Preservation principle to prevent things in a structure from being deleted
willy-nilly. Suppose we assume that lexical material that enters a structure cannot be
altered by a movement. This maintains the Structure Preservation principle given that
the lexical items that are inserted into a structure determine that structure to a great
extent through notions of projection and selection, but it also prevents the deletion of
lexical information once it has been inserted into a structure. This principle is called
the Projection Principle:
(94)
the Projection Principle
structures are projected from the lexicon at all levels
What this means is that anything that is inserted into a structure from the lexicon
cannot change from one level of representation to another. If a verb is put into a
structure, nothing can delete or alter this verb, turning it into a noun, for example. Also
no movement can alter a verb’s selectional properties: a transitive verb will remain
transitive at D-structure and S-structure even if the object is moved.
Under these assumptions, it must be that a passive verb loses its subject before it
enters into a structure. There are numerous ways in which we might suppose that this
can happen, but we will put the matter aside until we are in a better position to
understand it. The general point is that as a result of being passivised, a verb fails to
assign a -role to its subject and hence this position is absolutely vacant at Dstructure. So with regard to the empty subject position in (92a) we can say that this
position, whilst being present in the structure, is simply devoid of any contentful
element and hence is vacant to be moved into.
Now consider the nature of the empty object in (92b): the extraction site of the
moved object. By the Projection Principle, this object position must remain in the
structure and cannot be deleted otherwise the transitive verb would find itself without
an object and hence would be sitting in the structural position of an intransitive verb.
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Theoretical Aspects of Movement
As this would alter the lexical nature of the verb, we conclude that it would be
impossible. Yet if this position were simply vacant, like the subject position is at Dstructure, we might expect that it could be the landing site for some other moved
element. This, it turns out, is not true at all. Consider the following analysis which
indicates several movements step by step:
(95) a [DP e]
Susan said [[DP who] helped [DP Fred]]
D-structure
b who (did) Susan say [[DP e] helped [DP Fred]]
after 1 movement
c who (did) Susan say [[DP Fred] helped [DP e]]
after 2 movements
Both of these derived structures seem to be grammatical, but importantly they do not
mean the same thing. In (95b) Fred is interpreted as the one who is helped and the
interrogative pronoun who is the one doing the helping, as is indicated by the Dstructure in (95a). But in (95c), Fred is the one doing the helping and who is the one
helped. Under the assumption that -roles are assigned at D-structure, it cannot be the
case that (95c) was formed from the D-structure (95a), but must be related to another
D-structure, i.e. (96a):
(96) a [DP e] Susan said [[DP Fred] helped [DP who]]
b who (did) Susan say [[DP Fred] helped [DP e]]
The fact that (95c) cannot be interpreted in the same way as (95b) leads us to
conclude that the movement indicated in the former is impossible and that the object
cannot move into the vacated subject position.
The overall conclusion of this discussion then is that the empty positions that are
present at D-structure are of a different nature to the empty positions present at Sstructure which are created by movements: D-structure empty positions are vacant to
be moved into, S-structure empty positions are not. Obviously this demands an
explanation.
One possible account of the nature of empty extraction sites is that they cannot act
as landing sites for subsequent movements because they are occupied. As two
elements cannot occupy the same position and as we are not allowed to delete material,
this would block movement into this position. There are two problems that this
assumption faces: what element occupies the extraction site and why cannot we see it?
Given the above discussion, there is no choice as to the identity of the element that
occupies this position: it must be the moved element itself. No other element could
either be moved into this position or be inserted into it from elsewhere without
drastically changing the lexical information represented by the D-structure and this
would violate the Projection Principle. But then we seem to be forced to accept that
one element can occupy two positions.
We can get some understanding of this situation if we make the following
assumption: when an element moves, it leaves behind a copy of itself in the extraction
site. This copy is called a trace and is envisaged to be identical to the moved element
in terms of its grammatical and semantic properties. Thus the category of the trace, its
role in the thematic structure of the sentence and its referential properties are the same
115
Chapter 3 - Basic Concepts of Syntactic Theory
as the moved element. The main way in which the trace differs from the moved
element is that the trace has no phonological content and hence is unpronounced. We
have already considered the possibility of phonologically empty but grammatically
active elements when we discussed imperatives at the beginning of this chapter. A
trace is another such element.
Traces are typically represented by a t, which bears an index which it shares with
the moved element, both to link the trace and the moved element and to demonstrate
that they have the same reference:
(97) a who1 did Susan say [Fred helped t1]
b who1 did Susan say [t1 helped Fred]
The S-structure representations here demonstrate the movement of an interrogative
pronoun from two different D-structure positions, marked by the trace. In (97a) who
moved from object position and hence the sentence is interpreted as a question about
the one who was helped. In (97b) on the other hand who moves from the subject
position and hence the question is about the one who does the helping.
There are two views concerning the nature of traces. One is that a trace is related to
but independent of the moved element. From this point of view a trace is a little like a
pronoun referring to the moved element:
(98) a Charles1 was cheated t1
b Harry1 helped himself1
In these examples, the trace and the pronoun sit in object positions and refer to the
subject in much the same way. From this perspective, the trace can be seen as having
properties of its own independent of the moved element. We will see that there is some
truth to this idea. However, traces are not like pronouns in one important way. As we
see in (98b), the pronoun and its antecedent represent two different arguments, though
they both refer to the same individual. Thus Harry is interpreted as the one who does
the helping and himself is interpreted as the one who gets helped. With the trace in
(98b) however, there is only one argument interpreted here: the one who was cheated.
Because the verb is passivised, the subject’s -role is not present and so no element is
interpreted as agent. Thus, it is as though the trace and the moved element share the
same -role, which strictly speaking should not be possible due to the Theta Criterion.
From this perspective, the trace and the moved element seem to be interpreted as a
single element, capable of bearing a single -role. This single element is, however,
spread out across a number of positions in a structure.
The notion of a chain might be useful here. We can see a moved element and its
associated traces as a single object made up of several parts: like a single chain is
made up from different links. Extending this analogy further, we can then refer to the
different parts of a movement chain as the links of the chain. Thus, the movement in
(99a) can be said to contain the chain represented in (99b):
(99) a this sentence1, you might not have seen t1 before
b [this sentence1, t1]
This chain has two links: this sentence and the trace. We say that the moved element is
at the head of the chain, while the trace is at its foot.
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Theoretical Aspects of Movement
There is one more point we need to make in connection with positions involved in
movement. Above we said that the landing site for a moved object in a passive
structure is an empty position: the subject. This seems to make sense given that the
subject position is an integral part of the sentence, without which we would not have a
complete sentence. However, it is not always easy to identify a landing site as
something that exists before the movement takes place. For example, consider the case
of PP preposing, in which a PP is moved to the front of the clause:
(100) a
Petra put the book [PP on the shelf]
b [PP on the shelf]1, Petra put the book
t1
This PP does not move to the subject position, which is already occupied by Petra.
The position it moves to is to the left of the subject and it is not really a position that
we easily claim to be integral to all sentences given that in many it is not filled at all.
Furthermore, this position has a number of things in common with an adjunct, in
that an unlimited number of elements can undergo preposing:
(101) a Petra put the book [on the shelf] [without telling me] [yesterday]
b [yesterday]1, [without telling me]2, [on the shelf]3, Petra put the book t3 t2 t1
If we were to propose that these movements put the moved elements into empty
positions, we would have to suppose the existence of an indefinite number of empty
positions at the front of the clause which sit there waiting for something to move into
them. This does not seem a reasonable assumption.
Moreover, there are instances that we might want to analyse as a case of movement
where an element moves to a position that is blatantly not empty. For example:
(102) a we will not be moved
b we won’t be moved
In (102b) it might be claimed that the negative element moves to the position
occupied by the modal auxiliary and the two somehow join together to become a
single word. Again there is something like an adjunction formed in this case with a
word being created from two independent words, like a compound noun (in this case
the ‘compound’ is a verb).
Because of examples such as these it has been proposed that there are two types of
movement. One, known as substitution, moves an element into a vacant position. The
other, called adjunction, creates an adjunction structure by the movement. Thus, PP
preposing might be argued to move the PP to a position adjoined to the left of the
clause:
117
Chapter 3 - Basic Concepts of Syntactic Theory
(103)
S
PP
S
on the shelf1 DP
VP
Petra
V'
V
PP
put
t1
Similarly we might propose that some movements can move words to adjoin to
other words, as is the case of the contracted negation:
(104)
I'
I
I
Neg
should
n’t1
t1
The irrelevant aspects of the analysis, such as the extraction site of the negative, need
not detain us here. The important point is that the negative is moved from one position
to a site adjoined to the modal.
One might wonder if adjunction conforms to structure preservation as it does seem
to alter the structure from its D-structure condition. However, it should be noted that
adjunction does not alter lexically determined aspects of structure and so is perfectly
compliant with the Projection Principle which supersedes structural preservation.
Moreover, adjunction is something which X-bar theory allows for and hence to create
an adjunction structure is not to create something that violates the possible X-bar
nature of the structure. In this way, adjunction movement does not radically alter
structure and can be seen as structure preserving.
2.4
Locality Restrictions on movement
The restrictions on movement we have mentioned so far have concerned its structure
preserving nature. Not all structures which conform to these restrictions are
grammatical, however, indicating that other restrictions are in operation. Most of the
movements we have looked at have involved something moving within a single clause.
Passivisation, for example, moves the object of a predicate to the subject of that
predicate and obviously both the extraction site and the landing site are within the
same clause. There are movements however, that move elements from one clause to
another. Consider the following:
118
Theoretical Aspects of Movement
(105) a it seems [Fiona favours dancing]
b Fiona seems [to favour dancing]
Given the near synonymy of these two sentences and the fact that the subject of seem
in (105b) does not appear to be semantically related to this verb (Fiona is not the one
who ‘seems’) we might assume that the latter is formed by a movement of the lower
clause subject into the higher clause subject position:
(106) a
[e] seems [Fiona to favour dancing]
b Fiona1 seems [
t1 to favour dancing]
This movement is known as raising as the subject of the lower clause raises to the
subject of a higher clause.
Raising can apparently happen out of a number of clauses:
(107) a it seems [it is believed [it is unlikely [that Stan will steal diamonds]]]
b [e] seems [to be believed [to be unlikely [Stan to steal diamonds]]]
c Stan1 seems [to be believed [to be unlikely [ t1 to steal diamonds]]]
Thus, at first sight it would seem that movement is unrestricted in terms of how far an
element can be moved. But on closer inspection this might not be an accurate
description of what is going on here. For example, note that in (107b) and (c) all the
clauses that the subject is raised out of are non-finite and none of them seem to have
subjects.
Suppose we try to move out of a finite clause instead:
(108) a *Stan1 seems [it is unlikely [t1 to steal diamonds]]
b it seems [Stan1 is unlikely [t1 to steal diamonds]]
As we can see, a subject can be raised out of a non-finite clause into the subject
position of a finite clause, but it cannot be raised out of a finite clause. Note that the
finite clause in (108a) has a subject of its own: it. It is a fact about English finite
clauses that they must have subjects and hence the sentence would be ungrammatical if
the subject were missing for independent reasons. So this case differs from the
grammatical movement in (107c) in two ways: the moved subject is moved out of a
finite clause and it is moved out of a clause with a subject.
To control for these variables, let us consider a case where the movement is out of
a non-finite clause with a subject:
(109) a it is unusual [for Eric to hope [Stan will steal diamonds]]]
b *Stan1 is unusual [for Eric to hope [t1 to steal diamonds]]]
Again the result is ungrammatical, demonstrating that movement over a subject is
itself enough to cause an ungrammaticality. But why would moving over a subject be a
problem? If long distance movements are possible, it is hard to understand why the
presence or absence of a subject should make any difference at all. However, if we
suppose that long distance movements are not possible, though an element can move a
long way via a series of short movements, we can come to an understanding of these
observations. Consider the grammatical case of (107). As each subject position is
119
Chapter 3 - Basic Concepts of Syntactic Theory
empty it is possible for the moved subject to move into each one in turn, moving from
one clause to the next each time:
(110) a [e] seems [[e] to be believed [[e] to be unlikely [Stan to steal diamonds]]]
b Stan1 seems [t1 to be believed [t1 to be unlikely [t1 to steal diamonds]]]
If there is a subject in one of these positions the moving subject would be forced to
make a longer movement and if long movements are not allowed, we predict the result
to be ungrammatical, which it is:
(111) a [e] is unusual [for Eric to hope [Stan to steal diamonds]]
b Stan1 is unusual [for Eric to hope [t1 to steal diamonds]]
We call this phenomenon, the boundedness of movement. For now it is enough to
note that movement is bounded. We will look in more detail at the phenomenon in a
subsequent chapter.
3
Conclusion
In this chapter we have briefly set down many of the theoretical mechanisms which we
will be using in the rest of the book to describe syntactic phenomena in English. There
is a lot more to say on theoretical issues and many differences of opinion as to how
they should be formulated. However, as it is not our intention to teach all the details of
the theory, but merely to use it, we will not go into these issues and the interested
reader is directed to other text books, such as Haegeman (1994), Webelhuth (1995) or
Radford (2004) for more detailed discussion on theoretical issues.
Check Questions
1
Discuss rewrite rules: use the terms ‘category variables’, ‘head’, ‘complement’,
‘specifier’, ‘adjunct’, ‘recursion’, ‘category neutral’.
2
Exemplify adjunction (i) to a head, (ii) to a bar-level projection, (iii) to a
maximal projection, and state the corresponding rewrite rule.
3
Explain the notion ‘projection’ and the way heads project their properties using
expressions like ‘zero-level projection’, ‘bar-level constituent’, ‘maximal projection’.
4
What is the difference between endocentric versus exocentric phrases?
5
Which of the following properties of heads and/or phrases are predictable?
a
b
c
d
e
f
endocentricity
category
argument structure
subcategorisation frame
pronunciation
meaning
120
Test your knowledge
6
Explain the difference between restrictions imposed by a head on complements
and those imposed on specifiers.
7
Discuss implications of the rule Move
Principle.
and the Structure Preservation
8
What levels of structural description are assumed and how are they linked?
How can D-Structure be characterised?
9
Discuss theta role assignment and the locality constraint imposed on it.
10
Show the distribution of nominative versus accusative case in English.
11
What bearing does the observation that clauses must have subjects have on the
movement types passive and raising?
Test your knowledge
Exercise 1
Identify those tree diagrams that exemplify possible configurations. State what the
problem is with those that contain impossible configurations.
(1)
XP
ZP
(2)
X'
X'
X'
WP
Y
(3)
XP
X
KP
XP
(4)
X'
X'
XP
ZP
WP
X'
XP
X
Y
(5)
XP
WP
KP
(6)
XP
X'
X'
X
X'
WP
X'
YP
X'
X
121
WP
KP
YP
Chapter 3 - Basic Concepts of Syntactic Theory
(7)
X'
(8)
XP
X'
X'
X
(9)
YP YP
XP
ZP
X
Y'
(10)
XP
X'
X'
X
(11)
XP
XP
(12)
X'
XP
(13)
YP
X'
X'
X'
Y'
X'
Y
X
(14)
X'
(15)
XP
ZP
XP
WP
KP
XP
X'
Y'
Y'
X'
X
XP
ZP WP YP
Exercise 2
Fill in the well-formed tree diagrams in Exercise 1 with lexical items. Pay attention to
category: if there happen to be two XPs in a diagram, make sure that the category of
the lexical items chosen is identical.
122
Test your knowledge
Exercise 3
Decide what the syntactic head of the following compounds is and where it is in the
structure. Comment on whether the meaning of the compounds may be composed of
the meanings of its elements.
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
passer-by
greenhouse
redneck
coffee table
attorney general
f
g
h
i
j
catwalk
brother-in-law
day job
double sheepshead knot
mousetrap
Exercise 4
Comment on how the Theta Criterion can account for the grammaticality or
ungrammaticality of the sentences below.
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
g
h
i
j
k
l
Peter drinks.
*Peter Mary met John.
*Peter met.
*Peter gave Mary.
*Peter gave flowers.
*John put the book.
*John put on the table.
Peter wrote a letter to Mary.
Peter wrote a letter.
Mary washed.
Mary wondered what the time was.
That they stole the diamonds surprised the police.
Exercise 5
Compare the grammatical functions and theta roles of the DPs in the pairs of sentences
below. Comment on changes in either.
(1)
a Peter gave Mary flowers.
b Peter gave flowers to Mary.
(2)
a The postman delivered the letters.
b The letters were delivered.
(3)
a That he left surprised us.
b It surprised us that he left.
(4)
a Peter noticed the scar on her ankle.
b The scar on her ankle appeared small.
(5)
a Mary is easy to please.
b Mary tries to please everybody.
123
Chapter 3 - Basic Concepts of Syntactic Theory
(6)
a Who do you want to meet?
b Who do you want to help?
(7)
a He took a shower.
b He showered.
(8)
a He made the ball role down the hill.
b He rolled the ball down the hill.
Exercise 6
Below you can find an abstract sentence where small letters symbolize the words of
the sentence while capital letters stand for larger units. Construct a tree diagram
equivalent to the bracketed structure.
[I [H a b] [J c [K d [L e f]]]]
Exercise 7
Below you will find the tree structure of an abstract sentence. Small letters represent
words while capitals stand for larger units. Give an equivalent bracketed structure.
K
I
a
L
J
b
P
c
d
M
e
N
f
O
g
h
Exercise 8
Give the lexical entry of each word in the following sentence.
The little boy may think that he will get a very expensive present for his
birthday.
124
Test your knowledge
Exercise 9
Identify the arguments in the following sentences and state what thematic role they are
assigned to by what items.
(1)
(2)
Jack thought that he knew the right answer.
One of the big parties seems to be unlikely to be believed to win the
elections.
John gave three red roses to Jane.
The teacher wanted the students to pass the exam.
It was believed that John was taken to hospital.
There is a man at the entrance door.
The exam sheets were believed to have been corrected by the teacher.
(3)
(4)
(5)
(6)
(7)
Exercise 10
Identify the adjuncts in the sentences below.
(1)
a The little boy gave a nice drawing to his mother for her birthday.
b The teacher wanted to know whether the new students would know what to
do when they arrive.
c Why do you ask me whether I want to by a new computer next year?
d The new guest professor of Mathematics from Germany will probably arrive
at the recently renovated railway station at 2:15.
e How can you decide whether a loaf of bread on the shelf is fresh or not?
f Jack and Jane saw a very interesting new film at the cinema in the city centre.
g Sometimes it is difficult for students to find the adjuncts in sentences like
this.
h The mayor of the city said that the river is unlikely to flood the city.
i The workers didn’t believe that they don’t have to work on the following
week.
Exercise 11
Decide whether the phrases in italics in (1) are adjuncts or complements of the verb.
Try to prove your statement buy applying an appropriate constituency test.
(1)
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
David wrote a letter on the desk.
David put a letter on the desk.
Mary slept in the bed.
Mary stayed in the bed.
Jill arrived at the station.
Jill waited at the station.
125
Chapter 3 - Basic Concepts of Syntactic Theory
Exercise 12
Observe the contrast between the sentences in each pair. Explain why sentences (a) are
correct while sentences (b) are incorrect.
(1)
(2)
(3)
a. Julie met the student of Physics from France and I met the one from Spain
b. *John knows the student of Physics from France and I know the one of
English from Spain.
a. Julie met a student of Physics of considerable intelligence.
b. *Julie met a student of considerable intelligence of Physics.
a. Julie met a student of Physics and of Mathematics.
b. *Julie met a student of Physics and of considerable intelligence.
Exercise 13
Give the X-bar structure of each of the following phrases in italics.
(1)
a
b
c
d
John solved the problem independently of me.
My professor lives right in the middle of nowhere.
I am very afraid of wild animals.
John read a book about Britain.
Exercise 14
The X-bar theory predicts that in English the following sentences are ungrammatical.
Explain how the X-bar theory can account for the ungrammaticality of the sentences
below. Notice that the phrases in italics are responsible for the ungrammaticality of the
sentences.
(1)
a *The teacher from France of English likes going to open lectures.
b *Mary often drives too fast her car.
c *Every student in Cambridge of Physics gets an excellent job.
Exercise 15
Give the tree diagram of the following phrases.
(1)
a a big house
b little brown jug
c this incredible story
d a tall handsome student of physics
e funny little thing
f those pretty women from Europe
Exercise 16
Give the internal structure of the following compound nouns.
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
car park
floppy disk
bicycle race winner
micro wave oven
pettycoat
second hand shop
g
h
i
j
k
126
orange juice cocktail
hot water heater
season ticket holder
petrol station owner
heavy metal band
Test your knowledge
Exercise 17
Why are these sentences ill-formed?
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
*Penny promised.
*The boy slept a car.
*Garry gave Greg.
*Gave a cent to Marion.
*Adam ate an apple for Anne.
*Daniel danced Dora.
Exercise 18
Identify the thematic roles assigned by each predicate and identify the Cases of the
DPs as well.
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
Who do you think Izzy will invite?
Terry thinks that the car has been stolen.
Frank will fly from New York to Amsterdam.
Sally seems to be selected by the committee.
I expect this girl to rewrite her essay.
For Chuck to choose from these chicks will be hard.
Exercise 19
(i)
Find examples from languages other than English for reversed orders of
head–complement, specifier–head, specifier–head–complement, head–adjunct, etc.
(ii)
Work out possibilities for adjunction the adjunct rule allows. Which
constituent can never occur as an adjunct? Why?
(iii)
Attempt to think about constructions that may potentially go against the idea
that all phrases are endocentric (either because they seem exocentric or because they
seem to exhibit properties of more than one head).
(iv)
Given the distribution of nominative and accusative forms in English, what
problem is raised by the following examples?
(1)
a He being the owner, we were all given a free drink.
b Who wants ice cream? Me.
c Her cheat on him? Never.
127
Chapter 4
The Determiner Phrase
The time has come to start applying what we have introduced in the previous three
chapters to the analysis of English structures. We will start with the Determiner Phrase
as it is one which appears in many of the other phrases we shall investigate. Also there
are a number of recurrent themes which will crop up from time to time throughout this
book and the DP is a good place to introduce these.
1
Why the Noun is not the Head of the DP
The following all have the same distributions and hence can all be considered
determiner phrases:
(1)
a
b
c
d
that man
he
Henry
men
The first consists of a determiner and a noun, which we have so far been describing as
a head followed by its complement, in the usual English pattern. The second a
pronoun, and we have claimed that pronouns are ‘intransitive’ determiners, i.e.
determiners without an NP complement. The third consists of just a proper noun and
the last just a plural count noun. These last two examples are puzzling: how can they
be considered as DPs when they contain no determiner? Perhaps these are not DPs at
all, but simply NPs. But if this is true, as all the examples in (1) have the same
distribution, they must all be considered NPs. Thus, the pronoun should be categorised
as a noun and the determiner in (1a) is not the head of the phrase, but some other
element within the NP, perhaps an adjunct or a specifier (it is on the wrong side to be
considered a complement).
This proposal might be supported by two further observations. First, note that even
when a determiner is present, the noun seems to be the most semantically salient
element, suggesting its greater importance:
(2)
a these socks
b an idea
c each portrait of the Queen
(2a) refers to something of a ‘socky’ nature and (2b) to an idea. In (2c) we are talking
about instances of portraits, not instances of each. The determiners obviously do
contribute a meaning, but this seems secondary to the meaning of the noun. From this
point of view, then we might claim that the noun should be seen as the more important
syntactic element, i.e. the head.
Chapter 4 - The Determiner Phrase
This is not a good argument, however, as it is not wise to conclude about the
syntactic properties of an element on the basis of its semantic properties. There are
many elements which might be considered to be the syntactic head of a phrase which
are not the semantically most important word. For example, consider the following:
(3)
cups of tea
Semantically, the noun tea is the most important element in this phrase: it refers to
something which can be described as tea and not a cup. When one drinks a cup of tea,
it is the tea that gets drunk, not the cup! Yet, syntactically it seems that cup should be
considered as the head and the phrase containing tea as its complement. This provides
us with a straightforward structure:
(4)
NP
N'
N
PP
cups
of tea
If, on the other hand, we wanted to claim that the noun tea is the syntactic head of
the phrase we would have difficulty fitting in the preposition and the other noun:
(5)
NP
cups?
of?
N
tea
Neither of these elements appears to behave like either a specifier or an adjunct and so
the analysis is highly problematic.
Another case where it might be argued that the syntactic head of a phrase is not the
most important semantic element within it concerns preposition phrases:
(6)
a go [to London]
b look [through the tunnel]
In these cases, as in those above, the preposition does contribute something to the
meaning of the phrase, though it is not clear that this should be seen as the most
important aspect of the meaning of the whole phrase. Indeed London and tunnel seem
to contribute just as important, if not more important information. However, it would
not make sense to claim that the nouns are the heads of these phrases as they are
clearly not NPs, not having the distribution of NPs:
(7)
a *go [London]
b *look [the tunnel]
130
Why the Noun is not the Head of the DP
There are syntactic reasons, then, for considering these phrases to be headed by the
preposition and thus it seems better to assume that the most important semantic word
is not always the syntactic head.
A second observation that might support the assumption that the noun and not the
determiner is the head of the phrase is the fact that the noun contributes features which
play a role in interpreting the meaning of the whole phrase:
(8)
a the mouse
b the mice
In (8a) the whole phrase is considered to be singular and in (8b) the phrase is plural, as
can be observed from facts concerning verb agreement:
(9)
a the mouse is eating the cheese
b the mice are eating the cheese
As is is the form of the verb ‘to be’ that agrees with a third person singular subject
and are is the form agreeing with a third person plural one, we can conclude that the
phrases sitting in subject positions have these properties. Thus it would seem that the
noun projects its number features to the whole phrase. We have said that projection is
something that concerns heads and so this might be taken as evidence that the noun is
the head.
Again, however, this is not an entirely unproblematic assumption. Many
determiners carry number features of their own:
(10) a
b
c
c
these people
all answers
each prescription
an occasion
*these person
*all answer
*each prescriptions
*an occasions
plural determiners
singular determiners
In these cases both the nouns and the determiners are marked for number and so it is
difficult to say where the number feature of the whole phrase is projected from.
Indeed, even in those cases such as (8a) and (8b) where it looks as though the number
is projected from the noun, we could argue that the determiner the is ambiguously
marked for singular or plural and, like the other determiners, when it is singular it can
only accompany a singular noun and when it is plural it can only accompany a plural
noun. The issue therefore rests on which we take to be the head: the determiner or the
noun. For this reason, we cannot use these observations to argue in favour of one or
the other having head status but we must look elsewhere to resolve the issue.
The assumption that the determiner is not the head leads to further problems for the
analysis of determiners and pronouns themselves. First consider the determiner. If this
is not the head then it is presumably an adjunct or a specifier within the NP. We should
therefore expect it to behave as such. Determiners do not appear to be adjoined within
the NP as they do not behave like adjectival modifiers, which we have analysed as N'
adjuncts in the previous chapter. Adjectives are recursive modifiers of nouns and can
normally be arranged in any order, as we might expect of an adjunct:
131
Chapter 4 - The Determiner Phrase
(11)
NP
NP
N'
N'
AP
N'
permanent AP
AP
N'
noticeable
N'
noticeable AP
N
permanent
stain
N'
N
stain
Determiners, on the other hand, are not recursive and have a very fixed position at
the beginning of the phrase:
(12) a *the this book
b *some a property
c *boring these lectures
cf. the book/this book
cf. some property/a property
cf. these boring lectures
Even if we claimed the determiner to be adjoined to the NP rather than the N'
, so that it
would always precede AP adjuncts, which are adjoined to the N'
, as in (13), the nonrecursiveness of determiners would remain a problem:
(13)
NP
D
NP
the
N'
AP
N'
plentiful N
supply
PP
of water
A further problem with this analysis is that adjuncts adjoined to XP or X'are
phrasal. Only adjuncts adjoined to a head are X0 categories. But the determiner looks
suspiciously like a word and to analyse it as a phrase by itself begs the question of why
determiners never have complements, specifiers or adjuncts of their own:
(14)
NP
DP
?
NP
D'
D
problematic assumption
?
this
132
Why the Noun is not the Head of the DP
This same problem dogs the assumption that determiners are specifiers: the specifier
position is a phrasal one, but a determiner does not appear to be more than a word.
The assumption that the determiner is the head of the phrase, on the other hand,
captures its position perfectly: it precedes the noun because the noun heads its
complement and heads precede their complements in English. Comparing the two
options, then, it seems that the one in which the determiner is the head is the more
straightforward:
(15) a
DP
b
D'
NP
D
NP
D?
N'
the
troublemaker
the
N
troublemaker
Another problem that arises if we assume that determiners are not heads of phrases
is that they do make a contribution to the whole phrase. In chapter 1 we spent some
time discussing properties of determiners (section 3.5.2), pointing out that a major
contribution determiners make to the phrases that contain them is the definiteness–
indefiniteness distinction:
(16) a a house
b the house
The phrase in (16a) is indefinite while that in (16b) is definite, obviously as a
consequence of the determiner. The noun is the same in both cases and therefore does
not seem to contribute to this distinction. But if the determiner is not the head of the
phrase, how does it project this property to it? Projection, we showed in the previous
chapter, is a property of heads, not adjuncts or specifiers so the fact that determiners do
project properties to the phrase is an argument in favour of treating them as heads.
Next, consider the status of the pronoun. If this is a determiner heading a DP, its
status is quite straightforward; it is simply a head which is the solitary element in the
phrase:
(17)
DP
D'
D
her
This is nothing unusual and we find similar things elsewhere:
133
Chapter 4 - The Determiner Phrase
(18)
VP
PP
AP
V'
P'
A'
V
P
A
fly
out
short
These phrases can be found in sentences such as:
(19) a birds [fly]
b the manager is [out]
c the trousers were [short]
Of course, if we analyse pronouns as nouns, then we get a similar situation with
them heading an NP:
(20)
NP
N'
N
they
However, the analysis in (17) accounts for the absolute complementary distribution
between pronouns and determiners:
(21) a *the he
b *a her
c *every they
If pronouns are determiners, this observation is accounted for. But if pronouns are
nouns something else must be said to account for why they cannot appear with
determiners. Some nouns do not sit well with determiners. In English, proper nouns
are not usually accompanied by a determiner:
(22) a *a Linda left
b *I spoke to the Thomas
cf.
cf.
Linda left
I spoke to Thomas
Yet, in some circumstances we can use determiners with proper nouns:
(23) a a Linda that I used to know telephoned me yesterday
b the Thomas you are thinking of is not the one I am
Interestingly, even in these situations a pronoun is ungrammatical accompanied by a
determiner:
(24) a *a she/her that I used to know telephoned me yesterday
b *the he/him you are thinking of is not the one I am
It seems that the evidence all points to the assumption that pronouns are
determiners. But, if the noun is the head of the phrase and not the determiner, how are
134
Why the Noun is not the Head of the DP
we to analyse a phrase consisting of just a pronoun as this would appear to be an NP
that lacks a noun. This brings us full circle to the observations we started with. Under
the proposal that the determiner is the head, there appear to be DPs that lack
determiners:
(25)
DP
D'
D
NP
?
Geoffrey
And under the proposal that nouns are the head of the phrase, there appear to be NPs
that lack nouns:
(26)
NP
D
N'
us
N
?
It seems that whatever option we take we face a problem.
There is a way to solve the problem, either way, which involves a slightly more
abstract analysis. Suppose the phrases in question do have heads, but they are
unpronounced. The idea of an unpronounced, phonologically ‘empty’ element has
been made use of several times already in this book. For example as the understood
subject of an imperative or as the trace left behind by a movement. So the idea is not
without precedence. Making use of this idea, we have two opposing analyses:
(27)
DP
DP
D'
D'
D
D
NP
him
e
Jackie
(28)
NP
NP
D
N'
N'
him
N
N
e
Jackie
135
Chapter 4 - The Determiner Phrase
Of course, the assumption of an empty category must have other motivations than
just their necessity to make the analysis work. With the empty subject of an imperative
we pointed out that this could act as the antecedent of a reflexive pronoun and with the
trace we demonstrated how this prevents other elements from moving into a position
vacated by another moved element. Is there any independent justification for either of
the empty heads in (27) or (28)? If we consider the empty noun in (28), the only
justification this has is to provide a head for the NP. The entire semantic content and
the grammatical features of the phrase are contributed by the pronoun itself: the NP is
third person singular because the pronoun is third person singular and the NP has a
reference which is determined by the pronoun. Thus there is no independent support
for the existence of this empty noun.
Now let us consider the empty determiner in (27). At first, we might think that we
are facing the same situation here. However, this is not so. Certainly, the main
semantic content of the whole phrase is provided by the noun. But this is typical:
nouns are the main semantic element in such constructions, even if the determiner is
visible. Determiners contribute other semantic aspects, as discussed above. The phrase
Jackie is definite, as can be seen by the fact that it cannot sit in the post-verbal position
in there sentences (see chapter 1 section 3.5.2 for discussion):
(29)
*there arrived Jackie
This then can be taken as a reason to think that there is a determiner accompanying
this noun which is responsible for the definiteness interpretation on the assumption
that it is determiners and not nouns which contribute this property:
(30)
DP
D'
D
NP
[+def]
Jackie
This might be extended to other cases of nouns that appear without apparent
determiners, as with plural nouns, for example:
(31)
DP
D'
D
[–def]
NP
visitors from Mars
Note that in this case the phrase is indefinite, as shown by the fact that it can appear in
the post-verbal position of a there sentence:
(32)
there arrived visitors from Mars
136
The Internal Structure of the DP
This suggests that there are two different empty determiners: one which is definite
and the other indefinite. The interesting thing is that these empty determiners differ in
other ways. The empty definite determiner takes only NP complements headed by
proper nouns whereas the empty indefinite determiner takes only NP complements
headed by plural nouns. This is perfectly normal behaviour for a head, as heads do
place restrictions on their complements.
To conclude the present discussion, while it seems that there is no independent
evidence that pronouns are accompanied by an empty noun, there is much evidence
that proper and plural nouns may be accompanied by empty determiners. This
conclusion itself lends support for the claim that the determiner is the head of the
phrase and that the noun is not. From this perspective, the noun is the head of its own
phrase which sits in the complement position of the determiner.
2
The Internal Structure of the DP
Having established the status of the determiner as a head, let us now look at how the
DP is arranged.
2.1
Determiners and Complements
We have already seen two subcategories of determiner: those which take NP
complements and those which take no complement. There are also determiners which
take optional NP complements:
(33) a the proposal
b *him proposal
c that proposal
*the
him
that
Determiners are rather boring in this respect and it seems that there are no other
possibilities. This, as it turns out is very typical of functional categories as a whole, as
they all have very limited complement taking abilities. However, even if the range of
complements of the determiner is very limited, the arrangement of the determiner and
its NP complement still conforms to the general pattern of head–complement
relationships in English with the head preceding the complement:
(34)
DP
D'
D
NP
As we have seen, the determiner may impose restrictions on its NP complement,
particularly in terms of number: singular determiners take singular NP complements
and plural determiners take plural NP complements. Some determiners take mass NP
complements, and we have seen that the empty definite determiner takes a proper NP
complement:
137
Chapter 4 - The Determiner Phrase
singular
complement
a man
*both man
some man
*e[+def] man
*e[–def] man
(35)
plural
complement
*a men
both men
some men
*e[+def] men
e[–def] men
mass
complement
*a sand
*both sand
some sand
*e[+def] sand
e[–def] sand
proper
complement
?a Jim
*both Jim
?some Jim
e[+def] Jim
*e[–def] Jim
As heads, determiners also project their properties to the phrase and so a plural
indefinite determiner will head a plural indefinite DP. We can see this from the
following observations:
(36) a
b
c
d
e
there are some men in the garden
there is a man in the garden
*there is/are the man/men in the garden
the man is in the garden
the men are in the garden
As we have pointed out, only indefinite DPs can appear in the post-verbal position in
there sentences. Interestingly, in this construction the verb appears to agree with the
post-verbal element. So in (36a) the post-verbal DP is indefinite, the sentence being
grammatical, and the verb is in the plural form. The determiner some is an indefinite
plural determiner and these properties are projected to the whole phrase. The
determiner a is indefinite and singular and hence the DP that it heads can go in the
post-verbal position of a there sentence and the verb will be in its singular form, as in
(36b). The determiner the is definite, but unmarked for number. Therefore it cannot
head a DP in the post-verbal position of a there sentence (36c), but it can trigger either
singular or plural agreement on the verb when it sits in the canonical subject position,
(36d) and (36e), depending on what NP it takes as a complement.
We can represent these relationships in the following way:
(37)
DP
projects
D'
D
NP
restrict
s
All this is very typical of the behaviour of a head.
2.2
The Specifier of the DP
Let us now turn to the specifier of the DP. Like all specifiers this should be a single
phrasal element which comes before the head. The most obvious choice would be the
possessor:
(38)
John’s book
138
The Internal Structure of the DP
However, the problem in viewing the possessor as the specifier of the DP is that this
would predict that possessors can appear in front of a determiner, when in actual fact
possessors and determiners seem to be in complementary distribution:
(39) a the book
b John’s book
c *John’s the book
If X-bar theory is correct however, this observation cannot be taken to show what it
seems to: i.e. that the specifier and the determiner sit in the same structural position.
Words and phrases cannot be in complementary distribution as they cannot appear in
the same positions in a phrase. Some other element must appear in complementary
distribution with the determiner in (39c), not the possessor. But what?
To answer this question we first have to consider another property of the possessor.
Pre-nominally, possessors are marked by the element ‘’s’. What is this morpheme?
Some have suggested that it is the marker of genitive Case born by the possessor.
However, if this is a Case marker, it is a very strange one for at least two reasons. First
it is a Case marker in a language which does not usually mark Case on its nominal
elements. English only normally marks Case on its pronouns and noun forms are
typically invariant no matter what Case position they occupy. Yet if we take ‘’s’ to be
a marker of genitive Case we have to assume that nominals are marked for this Case.
The other strange thing about this morpheme seen as a marker of Case is that it does
not behave anything like a Case morpheme in any other language. Note that it does not
attach itself to the noun, but to the last element in the whole DP:
(40) a
b
c
d
John’s book
that man’s book
the man that I told you about’s book
the man that you met’s book
This behaviour is consistent with the claim that this morpheme does not attach itself to
any word, but to the whole phrase. Note this is not the way that Case morphemes
behave in other languages. In Hungarian, for example, the accusative case morpheme –
t is attached to the noun inside the DP, not to the last element in the DP:
(41) a egy képet Mariról
b *egy kép Marirólt
There is another morpheme in English however that behaves like the possessive
‘’s’:
(42) a the man’s going
b the man that I told you about’s going
c the man that you met’s going
(43) a the man’ll do it
b the man that I told you about’ll do it
c the man that you met’ll do it
139
Chapter 4 - The Determiner Phrase
The contracted auxiliary attaches itself to the end of the subject in much the same way
that the possessive morpheme attaches itself to the end of the possessor. The difference
is, however, that with the contracted auxiliary there is an uncontracted form:
(44) a the man is going
b the man that I told you about is going
c the man that you met is going
(45) a the man will do it
b the man that I told you about will do it
c the man that you met will do it
Presumably, what happens when the auxiliary verb contracts is that it undergoes some
process which attaches it to the subject. Very likely this is not a syntactic movement,
but a phonological process which takes place after the structure has been constructed.
Evidence in favour of this comes from the comparison of auxiliary contraction and
negative contraction, which does involve a syntactic movement. When the negative
element not contracts, it sticks itself onto the auxiliary verb in front of it:
(46) a I will not talk
b I wo-n’t talk
If the auxiliary then moves, the contracted negative is taken along. Thus when the
auxiliary inverts with the subject in certain questions, the negative also inverts and
cannot be left stranded behind the subject:
(47) a could1-n’t you t1 be more precise?
b *could1 you t1 -n’t be more precise?
In contrast to this, a contracted auxiliary never moves along with a subject that it is
attached to:
(48) a D-structure:
b S-structure
Theodore thinks [who –’ll win]
*who1’ll does Theodore think [t1 win]
Indeed, auxiliaries can contract onto a subject that has moved to the position in front of
the auxiliary, suggesting that this contraction takes place after movement:
(49) a D-structure:
b S-structure:
[DP e] will seem [this man to disappear]
this man1’ll seem [t1 to disappear]
The point is, however, that there is a process which takes an independent word and
sticks it to the phrase immediately in front of it. If this is what is going on with the
possessive construction in English, then the ‘’s’ morpheme must originate as an
independent word which sits in a position immediately following the possessor. Given
that the word position immediately following the possessor is the determiner, we
conclude that the morpheme ‘’s’ must be a determiner. Unlike auxiliaries, this
140
The Internal Structure of the DP
determiner has no uncontracted form and so we never see it occupying the D position.
We thus have the following analysis:
(50)
DP
DP
D'
John
contraction
D
NP
’s
book
If this analysis can be maintained, we now know why possessors and determiners are
in complementary distribution; in fact they are not in complementary distribution but
the possessive determiner ‘’s’ is in complementary distribution with other determiners,
as we would expect.
There is one drawback to this analysis however, which concerns pronoun
possessors:
(51) a his idea
b my mother
Presumably as these pronouns have the same function as possessors, they sit in the
same position: specifier of the DP:
(52)
DP
DP
his
D'
D
NP
idea
Note that these pronouns have a special genitive form, which demonstrates that this
position is one to which genitive Case is assigned. Thus, even if the ‘’s’ morpheme is
not the marker of genitive Case, DPs which sit in the specifier of a DP have this Case.
The problem is that with pronoun possessors the possessive determiner (the ‘’s’
morpheme) does not appear. This is rather puzzling, especially if this morpheme is
nothing to do with genitive Case.
There are a number of possible solutions we might suppose. One is to assume that
the possessive determiner is present with pronoun possessors, but remains
unpronounced. This is supported by the fact that, as with all other possessors, no other
determiner can appear with a pronoun possessor:
(53) a *my the house
b *her a travel permit
If nothing is in the determiner position, these observations would be hard to account
for. We then have to assume that for some reason when the possessor is a pronoun, the
possessive determiner is unpronounced and when it is a non-pronoun it gets
141
Chapter 4 - The Determiner Phrase
pronounced as ‘’s’. As far as I know there is no explanation as to why this should be
and so it remains as a descriptive statement at present.
An alternative would be to claim that the possessive determiner is always
unpronounced and hence that the ‘’s’ morpheme is not a realisation of this determiner
at all. Instead it is a marker of possession, which pronouns do not need as they have a
genitive form to demonstrate their status as possessors. The problem with this is that it
is tantamount to claiming that the ‘’s’ morpheme really is a Case morpheme after all,
despite it not behaving like one.
A third possibility would be to claim that the reason why pronoun possessor are in
complementary distribution with all other determiners, including the possessive
determiner, is because they are determiners sitting in the head position. From this
perspective, the structure of the DP with a possessive pronoun would be:
(54)
DP
D'
D
NP
your
idea
This solves all the previous distribution problems, but places the pronominal possessor
in a different structural position to all other possessors, which makes their similar
interpretations difficult to account for. Moreover, (54) is not likely to be the correct
analysis for semantic reasons. The reference of the possessor is obviously different to
the reference of the whole DP: the pronoun refers to a person (i.e. you) whereas the DP
refers to a mistake. But if the pronoun is the head of the DP, how could it have a
reference that differed from the DP? It seems that there is no perfect solution to these
problems from our present understanding of the internal organisation of the DP and we
will therefore have to wait for further developments to make progress in this matter.
2.3
Adjunction within the DP
Adjunction within the DP itself is a rather limited phenomenon. We know that APs
and PPs act as modifiers of nouns and adjoin within the NP, but these do not adjoin
within the DP ever as can be seen by the fact that they never precede determiners or
never modify pronouns:
(55) a *tall the building
(the tall building)
b *he in the smart suit (the man in the smart suit)
Certain adverbs may precede determiners and hence might be analysed as DP adjuncts:
(56) a not the right answer
b only a fool
However, it is not at all clear that these elements form part of the DP at all as their
distribution is more limited than we would expect if they were inside the DP:
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Multiple Determiners
(57) a this is not the right answer
b *not the right answer is 42
(58) a only a fool would think that
b *I met only a fool
These observations would be consistent with the idea that these modifiers are not part
of the DP at all, but occupy separate positions in the sentence.
There are some cases of modification by an adverb, however, that do seem to
behave as though the adverb is part of the DP. This mainly takes place with
quantificational determiners, the meaning of which is modified by the adverb:
(59) a almost all men have two legs and one head
b I like almost all Renaissance paintings
It seems that such adverbs are adjoined at the DP level, rather than at the D'level as
can be seen from the fact that they precede possessives:
(60) a almost John’s whole life was spent avoiding work
b *his almost whole life …
Thus, we propose the following analysis for these structures:
(61)
DP
AP
DP
nearly
D'
D
every
3
NP
teacher of physics
Multiple Determiners
In the last part of this chapter we will consider structures which appear to have more
than one determiner. In fact English seems to allow for up to three determiners:
(62)
all the many disappointments
Traditionally, the determiner which appears in the middle is called a Central
Determiner, the one in front a Pre-determiner and the one following a Postdeterminer. One might think that an appropriate analysis for this kind of structure
would be as follows:
143
Chapter 4 - The Determiner Phrase
(63)
DP
D'
D
DP
all
D'
D
DP
the
D'
D
many
DP
disappointments
Unfortunately however this fails to capture some rather basic facts about multiple
determiners and it also complicates the theory of heads to some extent. The first
problem is obvious: if a determiner like the can take a DP as its complement, why can
it not take any DP complement? The only ‘DP’ that can follow this determiner is one
headed by a post-determiner:
(64) a the few good ideas
b *the all men
c *the this mistake
In general then, the structure in (63) predicts that determiners can come in any
order within the DP and moreover there can be any number of them. Neither of these
expectations is true. The second problem lies in the fact that this suggestion forces us
to accept that determiners do not just take NP complements; they can take DP
complements as well. We will see in later chapters that it is very typical of functional
heads to take just one kind of complement, and no functional head takes a DP
complement. DP complements seem to be restricted to thematic heads and so it is
unlikely that a determiner should be able to take one.
So what is the proper analysis of multiple determiners? The easiest case to deal
with is the post-determiner. We argued in chapter 1 that these are adjectival elements
which are undefined for the F feature and hence are neither functional nor thematic
adjectives. The fact that they may be modified in the same way as thematic adjectives,
however, indicates that they head APs:
(65) a his [AP very few] good ideas
b my [AP not so many] disastrous parties
We can see from this that the traditional term ‘post-determiner’ is a rather misleading
one as they are not determiners, nor even heads but whole adjectival phrases. Where is
this AP situated? Clearly it follows the determiner and what follows the head is its
complement. But determiners do not take AP, but NP complements. It must therefore
be the case that post-determiners occupy a position within the NP complement of the
144
Multiple Determiners
determiner, the specifier position of the NP complement. Thus, we have the following
structure:
(66)
DP
D'
D
the
NP
AP
N'
many
N
analyses
This leaves the pre-determiners to accommodate. These are more problematic.
However, it turns out that pre-determiners are not such a special class of determiner
after all, once one considers the following:
(67) a all (of) the people
b those of his students who knew him
c few of his enemies
The only difference between pre-determiners and other determiners is that when they
appear in front of a DP the pre-determiner has an optional of whereas this is obligatory
with other types of determiner. The fact that we can have a post-determiner in this
position is interesting. We have stated that these come in specifier of NP, but where is
the NP in (67c) that the post-determiner is in the specifier of? If there is an NP in this
structure the head of which cannot be seen, it seems that we are forced to assume that
this head is an unpronounced empty category and therefore the structure must be
something like the following:
(68)
DP
D'
D
e
NP
AP
few
N'
N
PP
e
P'
P
DP
of
his enemies
145
Chapter 4 - The Determiner Phrase
Of course, as we saw previously, caution must be exercised in proposing such
empty heads to ensure that they are independently motivated and not just assumed to
make the analysis work. It turns out that there is a good deal of independent evidence
for the existence of this empty noun.
First, consider the presence of the preposition of which is obligatory in nearly all
structures of this type, with the exception of the ‘pre-determiners’. This is the
preposition we find when there is a noun which takes a DP complement:
(69) a
b
c
d
an illustration of [DP the technique]
a publication of [DP names and addresses]
the theory of [DP relativity]
the record of [DP his birth]
This preposition has no meaning in these structures and it is fairly obvious that the
semantic relationships hold between the noun and the following DPs. This can be most
obviously seen from the fact that the verbs from which some of these nouns are formed
are transitive and have no need of the preposition to express their relationship with the
DP complement:
(70) a to illustrate [DP the technique]
b to publish [DP names and addresses]
c to record [DP his birth]
The object of the verb is associated with accusative Case and hence must be in a Case
position. But the object of the noun is not associated with any Case; indeed nouns in
general cannot take bare object. We can account for these observations if we simply
assume that the complement position of a noun is a Caseless position. Given the Case
Filter introduced in the previous chapter, it follows that DPs are not allowed to occupy
such a position at S-structure. There is nothing to prevent a noun from taking a DP
complement at D-structure, however, and thematically it seems to be the case that
many nouns do have DP arguments which all surface as PPs headed by the
meaningless preposition of. We might therefore assume that this preposition is inserted
into the structure at S-structure so that the Case Filter may be satisfied.
Note that the object of a preposition is an accusative position and hence that
prepositions are Case assigners. Inserting of then allows an otherwise Caseless DP to
be assigned Case. Of-insertion is however a very limited phenomenon. It happens with
the DP complements of nouns and adjectives and nowhere else which might be argued
to be a Caseless position:
(71) a a knowledge of karate
b fed up of fish fingers
c *of him to pay his debts
It seems therefore that the appearance of the meaningless of is a good indication of the
presence of a noun or an adjective. In the structure we are considering concerning the
pre-determiner, the appearance of the of can be taken as strong evidence in favour of
the presence of a noun even though one is not visible.
Another argument for the existence of the empty noun in pre-determiner
constructions comes from their interpretation. Compare the following examples:
146
Multiple Determiners
(72) a some of the dancers
b a group of the dancers
These two constructions are interpreted in very similar ways. (72b) involves a measure
or group noun, which we have argued are non-thematic nouns lacking a specification
for the F feature. Semantically these work in a very uniform way: the complement of
the group noun identifies a set of individuals (in this case the dancers) and the group
noun focuses on a part of this set by dividing the set up into natural quantities (groups
of individuals, bottles of wine, cups of tea, etc.). This is exactly how the structure with
the pre-determiner is interpreted: the set is identified by the inner DP (the dancers) and
this set is partitioned into natural quantities (individual dancers in this case) and the
pre-determiner quantifies these.
One possible way to account for this similarity is to assume that the empty noun in
the pre-determiner structure works like a group or measure noun. Thus, if this can be
maintained, there is semantic evidence for the presence of the empty noun. We can
take this further by the following observation. Group nouns allow their DP
complements to be fronted:
(73) a of the dancers, a group were selected to perform
b of the wine, ten bottles remained unopened
c of the tea, three cups were set aside
Other nouns do not allow their complements to be fronted like this:
(74) a *of Bugsy, a photograph was distributed
b *of relativity, a theory was proposed
c *of linguistics, a student was examined
With pre-determiner structures, the fronting of the of-phrase is also possible:
(75) a of the dancers, some were sent home
b of my family, all were famous cuckoo clock engineers
As this phenomenon is restricted to structures involving group nouns, it seems that this
is strong evidence in favour of the assumption that pre-determiner constructions
involve a group noun in the position we have proposed an empty category.
If this analysis can be maintained, then we can claim that pre-determiners are no
different to other determiners (apart from the optionality of of) in that they may
introduce a DP that has an NP complement with an empty head:
147
Chapter 4 - The Determiner Phrase
(76)
DP
D'
D
NP
all
N'
N
PP
e
(of) the people
With this analysis then we are able to accommodate all the ‘determiners’ found in
English in the appropriate number and order.
4
Conclusion
In this chapter we have introduced the structure of the DP, the projection of a
functional category. We will contrast this in the next chapter with the VP, which is
obviously the projection of a thematic category. As far as the X-bar structure is
concerned, the two are very similar. But, as we know, lexical properties have a very
strong influence on structure and hence we might expect that the phrases headed by
functional and thematic heads will differ to some extent.
As far as the DP is concerned, an important observation that we have made in this
chapter is that the possibilities for its complementation are very limited. Determiners
take NP complements or no complements. This is typical of functional heads and
contrasts strongly with thematic heads. In the next chapter this difference will be made
clear.
Check Questions
1
How can it be argued that proper nouns and plural count nouns are also DPs?
2
What evidence is available to support the assumption that pronouns are
determiners heading a DP?
3
How can the complementation of a D head be characterised?
4
Given the assumption that the ’s morpheme occupies the D head position, what
can appear as [Spec, DP]?
5
What may function as adjuncts in a DP?
148
Test your knowledge
Test your knowledge
Exercise 1
Determine the internal structure of the following DPs by giving their tree diagram.
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
all the small things
few of the blond boys
nearly every clever student of American history
almost all of these young animals
any of you
any possible solution for this exercise in English syntax
Exercise 2
Which of the following trees represent the structure of the DP in italics in the sentence
below correctly? Try to find a test which can prove your statement.
(1)
(2)
I know the new students of Mathematics from London.
DP
D'
D0
NP
the
N'
AP
N'
new
N'
N0
PP
PP
students of Mathematics from London
149
Chapter 4 - The Determiner Phrase
(3)
DP
D'
D0
NP
the
N'
N'
AP
N'
new
N0
PP
PP
from London
students of Mathematics
Exercise 3
Identify all the DPs in the following examples, bearing in mind that one DP may have
another DP as a constituent (usually a non-immediate constituent).
(1)
(2)
(3)
My colleagues like the idea that the researchers invented the most dangerous
weapon ever been made.
Some students who study Linguistics hate parasitic gaps.
One very good reason for giving her a second chance is that she did a very
good job two years ago in Paris.
Exercise 4
Give the X-bar representation of the following nominal constructions
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
(5)
the President’s speech in the Congress
some of the most recent assumptions about life
the most interesting books on Physics
all essays on the theory
magnificent Gothic building
Exercise 5
What problems does the grammaticality of the Italian DP il mio libro raise for the
analysis of determiners and possessive pronouns?
Exercise 6
Discuss the structure of the DPs a few too many parking tickets, many a pleasant day,
and this very moment.
150
Test your knowledge
Exercise 7
An important difference between natural languages and artificial languages is that
natural language is full of ambiguous structures (which, of course, would be
devastating in an artificial language used e.g. for computer programming). The source
of ambiguity may be (a) lexical, when a given lexical item has more than one meaning
in the lexicon, e.g. bank, chip or light, or (b) structural, when the same set of strings
can be analysed in different ways, e.g. in I saw the girl with the telescope. In this case
either I had the telescope and saw the girl with the help of it, or I saw a girl having a
telescope. In the first interpretation with the telescope is the adjunct of the verb phrase,
in the second interpretation it is the adjunct of the noun phrase. Of course, taking into
consideration the great number of potentially ambiguous structures it seems to be
surprising that misunderstanding happens relatively infrequently. This can be
explained by the support of the context itself which very often rules out one (or more)
of the potential interpretations.
Provide a tree-structure analysis for the following ambiguous nominal expression:
(1)
an analysis of sentences with several mistakes
Exercise 8
The following DP is ambiguous:
(1)
[DP one of the children’s book’s]
Disambiguate the above DP by using it in two sentences and give the tree structure
of the DP with both meanings.
Exercise 9
The following sentence has ambiguous syntactic structure. Determine the ambiguities
using an appropriate constituency test for each meaning.
(1)
Jane wanted to try on a pair of jeans in the shop window.
151
Chapter 5
Verb Phrases
In this chapter we are going to take a detailed look at the structure of the phrase that is
in some ways the core of the clause. In this phrase the basic argument structure of
the clause is formed which is made up of the verb, acting as the predicate, its
arguments and adjoined modifiers. Thus, it is within the VP that -role assignment
takes place. We will also see that it is within the VP that other aspects of semantic
interpretation are represented, such as event structure and aspect. Other aspects of
clausal interpretation, such as tense, modality and force are introduced in structures
built on top of the VP and we will deal with these in the following chapters.
The principles of Theta Theory introduced in chapter 2 will play a large part in
determining the structure of the VP, alongside those of X-bar theory. In particular we
will be guided by the Uniform Theta-role Assignment Hypothesis (UTAH), which as
we explained in chapter 2 assumes that specific -roles are assigned to similar
positions in all structures. Thus, if we find evidence that a particular -role, theme for
example, is assigned to a particular position in one structure, then by the UTAH we
should assume that it is assigned to this position in all structures where it is found. In
many ways this is a very simple theory, but it does lead to the assumption of somewhat
more abstract structures than might have been guessed at prior to analysis. However,
we will demonstrate that the more abstract structures have quite a few advantages over
what might at first seem to be more straightforward analyses and these advantages can
be used to independently motivate the analyses and thus support the assumption of the
UTAH. We will start our discussion with the simpler cases and work our way to the
more complex ones, though this order of presentation might not be the usual one we
find in grammar books.
The notions of event structure and aspect are new and we will spend a little time
introducing them in the next section.
1
Event Structure and Aspect
As we have seen in chapter 1, the traditional idea that verbs are ‘doing words’,
inasmuch as what they refer to is actions, is not very accurate. Some verbs refer to
emotions or states of mind in which nothing can really be said to be done:
(1)
a Lucy loves silent movies
b Fred fears commitment
c Sam saw the possibilities
Yet obviously these verbs have meaning and they can be said to refer to something.
Let us call what it is that a verb describes in a sentence an event and this can either be
an action, a state or whatever.
Some events described by a verb are simple, consisting of a single part. For example:
Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases
(2)
a the plane arrived at Heathrow
b Lorraine lives in London
c the rock eroded
In each of these sentences there is a single event consisting of the state of some
element or the relationship between two elements. In (2a), for example, the plane has
achieved a state in which it can be said to be located in some place, i.e. at Heathrow.
Other verbs describe a more complex event:
(3)
a the wind eroded the rock
b Peter put the eggs in a bowl
c Gus gave Sam a sandwich
In (3a) an event is described which includes the event described in (2c) but also
involves the wind doing something that results in this. We might see this as a series of
‘sub-events’ connected in one way or another to make up a complex event. Thus, one
event involves the wind doing something involving the rock (blowing at it or
something) and the other event involves the rock being in a state of erosion. Moreover,
the first event has a causal relationship with the second. We might represent this
situation thus:
(4)
e = e1 → e 2
Here, e represents the complex event associated with the sentence the wind eroded the
rock and the equals sign indicates that this is constituted of a series of other events, in
this case e1 and e2. The first of these is the event involving the wind’s action and the
second is the event of the rock being in the state of erosion. The arrow between the
two indicates the causal relationship between the two sub-events in that e1 causes e2.
The events described in (3b) and (c) are even more complex. In (3b) we have Peter
doing something to the eggs which causes the eggs to undergo a process of movement
which results in them being situated in a location (in the bowl):
(5)
e = e1 → e2 → e3
In this, e1 represents the action of Peter, e2 the movement of the eggs and e3 the state
achieved by the eggs of being located in the bowl. Note that e1 results in e2 and e2
results in e3 as represented by the arrows. (3c) has a similar event structure involving
Gus doing something that causes the sandwich to undergo a process the end result of
which is that it ends up in Sam’s possession. Thus, e1 is Gus’s action, e2 is the process
of movement or ‘change of ownership’ that the sandwich undergoes and e3 is the state
achieved by the sandwich of being possessed by Sam.
Just like thematic structure, we will demonstrate below that event structure also has
an effect on the syntactic organisation of elements within the VP. The main claim is
that there is an isomorphism between event structure and the structure of the VP, so
that just as a complex event may be broken up into a series of sub-events, then the VP
also breaks up into ‘sub-VPs’ in a one-to-one correspondence with the sub-events.
This will become clearer as we progress.
Turning now to aspect. Again this is a semantic property of verbs which has to do
with the process involved and its relationship to the progression of time. This is not
tense, however, which situates an event at a particular place in time with respect to
154
Event Structure and Aspect
some other point, the time at which a sentence is uttered, for example. With aspect
time is important with respect to the internal aspects of the event itself. For example,
the end point of the event seen with respect to its starting point and what goes on
between the two. It is important to distinguish between two types of aspect, one which
is internal to the meaning of the verb, which we might refer to as lexical aspect, and
one which is to do with the interpretation of a particular event described by a sentence,
which we call grammatical aspect. Lexical aspect is also sometimes called
aktionsart.
With lexical aspect we can distinguish between those verbs which describe events
which have a natural end point and those which do not. Consider the difference
between eat and sit. Eating involves a process which if it continues long enough must
come to a natural end determined by the extent of the thing being eaten: one can only
eat an apple until it is all gone! Sitting, on the other hand, can continue indefinitely and
will only come to an end when something else happens to stop it, the person stands up
or the chair breaks, for example. By contrast, grammatical aspect looks at end points of
an event from the perspective of the situation being described. Compare:
(6)
a the Queen of England is sitting on this chair
b the Queen of England has sat on this chair
In (6a) the situation described involves the Queen of England being on the chair when
the sentence is uttered. The sitting event started at some point before the utterance and
continued for some undetermined time after it. In (6b), the Queen of England is no
longer on the chair when the sentence is uttered – she has stopped sitting and has gone
somewhere else. Thus the sitting event is complete. Note that in (6a) the auxiliary verb
be is used in conjunction with the ing form of the verb and in contrast (6b) involves the
auxiliary have with the ‘en’ form of the verb (irregularly expressed as sat in this case).
Although the encoding of grammatical aspect in English is complex, the forms be
+ Ving and have + Ven are often called the progressive and perfective forms to reflect
the kind of distinction made in (6). That things are not so simple, however, can be seen
from the following:
(7)
a I was living in Paris (until 1985)
b I have lived in Paris (for 12 years)
Although (7a) has the verb in its progressive form, the event described is clearly
completed and the person has stopped living in Paris. (7b) on the other hand is in the
perfective form, but the event is not complete: the person is still living in Paris at the
time the sentence is uttered.
While this is a very interesting and complex part of the description of the semantics
of English verbal complexes, we will not have very much to say about it in this book,
as we are mainly interested in syntax and in semantics only inasmuch as it has an
effect on the syntactic organisation of an expression. For us, the main interest in
grammatical aspect is to do with the appearance of the auxiliary verbs and their
syntactic distributions and properties.
Having introduced these notions, we can now turn to the analysis of English verbs
and the constructions we find them in.
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Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases
2
Verb Types
Obviously, the Verb Phrase revolves around the head verb, the head being the central
element of any phrase. Not only does the head project its categorial properties to the
phrase, but also by restrictive selection it determines the categorial nature of its
complements. Thematic heads also impose restrictions on arguments by assigning roles to them. The arguments of a thematic head, such as a verb, will appear either in
complement or specifier positions according to the principles of -role assignment
detailed in chapter 2. It follows therefore that the lexical properties of individual verbs
will play a large role in determining the structure of particular VPs. We will organise
this central section of this chapter by focussing on different subcategories of verbs,
starting with those that have the simplest lexical specifications.
2.1
Unaccusative verbs
Perhaps the simplest verb type, seen from a lexical perspective, is a group known as
unaccusative verbs. At first sight, these look like simple intransitive verbs, though we
shall see that they are in fact simpler than intransitives (or at least, intransitives are
more complex!). Unaccusatives take one DP argument to which they assign a theme
-role. They may also, optionally in most cases, take a location or path argument
expressed by a PP:
(8)
a
b
c
d
e
f
g
h
i
a letter arrived (in the mail box) (from the tax office)
the train departed (from the station) (to Helsinki)
the disease spread (to other towns)
the table sat in the corner
the heater stood against the wall
the gas appeared (from nowhere)
the snow settled (on the roof)
the Picts lived in Scotland
the water ran (down the wall)
These verbs are typically verbs of movement or location. Some of them are
ambiguous, having an unaccusative sense and an agentive sense. For example, the verb
sit can simply mean ‘be situated in a particular location’ (perhaps with a particular
orientation), as in (8d), or it can mean ‘to adopt a posture in which most weight is
supported by the rear end’ as in (9):
(9)
Sam sat on the sofa
In this usage, the verb is not unaccusative as it involves an agent argument: only
something which is capable of volitional action can ‘sit’ in this sense, but virtually
anything that is capable of being located can ‘sit’ in the unaccusative sense.
Unaccusative verbs have a certain range of properties by which we can identify
them. One is that they may appear in there sentences, which we have mentioned
several times in the previous chapters. These have a there subject and the theme
argument sits behind the verb (and must be indefinite):
156
Verb Types
(10) a
b
c
d
e
there arrived a letter
there departed a train
there spread a disease
there sat a table in the corner
etc.
We will have more to say about the analysis of this structure later, but for now we will
simply note it for its diagnostic use.
Note that agentive verbs cannot be used in this construction:
(11)
there sat a man on the chair
This sentence can only be interpreted as having the man situated on the chair and not
with him performing the action of sitting. Compare the following:
(12) a a man deliberately sat on the chair
b *there deliberately sat a man on the chair
Another structure in which we find unaccusatives is known as the locative
inversion construction. This involves the PP locative argument apparently sitting in
subject position, while the DP theme again sits behind the verb:
(13) a [from platform 9] departed a train to Minsk
b [in the corner] sat a shadowy figure
c [down the walls] ran some muddy water
Like the there construction, locative inversion seems to be available only for
unaccusative verbs and cannot be used with other verbs which have locative arguments
or adjuncts:
(14) a *[on the table] put he the book
b *[in the garden] smiled a boy
c *[on the chair] deliberately sat a man
It is not entirely clear that the PP in these structures occupies the subject position as it
can be combined with a there subject:
(15) a [from platform 9] there departed a train to Minsk
b [in the corner] there sat a shadowy figure
c [down the walls] there ran some muddy water
For the time being, however, we will not worry about the complexities of the analysis
of this particular structure, but again use its presence as a diagnostic for unaccusative
verbs.
Another distinguishing fact about unaccusatives is that they do not take objects of
any kind. You might wonder how this fact distinguishes unaccusatives from
intransitives which also do not have objects, but the fact is that intransitives may
appear with a limited set of objects:
(16) a he smiled a rueful smile
b she laughed an evil laugh
c they died a mysterious death
157
Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases
These objects are clearly strongly related to the verb themselves and are called
cognate objects. Unaccusative verbs, however, do not take cognate objects:
(17) a *the letter arrived an arrival
b *the magician appeared an appearance
c *the kettle sat a sit on the stove
Apparent exceptions to this can probably be accounted for in terms of the ambiguity of
the verb. For example:
(18)
she lived an eventful life
The verb to live can mean something similar to reside as in (19):
(19)
she lived in Paris
But it is clear that this is not what is meant in (18) and indeed it cannot have this
meaning in the presence of a cognate object. Thus, when it has the meaning reside the
verb cannot take a cognate object and this is precisely the meaning it has as an
unaccusative:
(20) a there lived Picts in the Highlands
b *there lived a woman an eventful life
Again, for the moment, we will not be concerned about why unaccusative verbs do not
take cognate objects, but will use this as a diagnostic for determining whether a verb is
unaccusative or not.
In the most straightforward case, ignoring the complexities of the there
construction for the moment, the theme argument is always the subject. If there is a
prepositional argument, this always appears behind the verb, presumably in
complement position. Thus the simplest assumption we could make for the structure of
a VP involving an unaccusative verb is:
(21)
VP
DP
theme
VP
V'
V
DP
theme
V'
V
PP
loc
Following the UTAH we might now claim to have discovered the position to which
the theme -role is assigned: the specifier of the VP.
It is important to point out at this stage that what we are looking at here is the VP at
D-structure, i.e. prior to any movement process and not the complete analysis of a full
sentence. We will see that this is more complex, involving more structure and a greater
number of syntactic processes. In particular, it is common for the subject not to remain
in the VP, but to move out into a higher position in the clause:
(22)
the letter1 may not have [t1 arrived]
158
Verb Types
The position to which the subject moves is typically a nominative position and so we
might assume that the movement has something to do with placing this argument in a
Case position. The reason why these verbs are called ‘unaccusative’ is because unlike
with transitive verbs, which share the possibility of having theme arguments, the theme
of the unaccusative cannot normally remain inside the VP to receive accusative Case.
As far as the event structure is concerned, unaccusative verbs have a very simple
interpretation involving a simple state or relationship between the theme argument and
the location. To see this, compare the unaccusative and agentive use of sit again:
(23) a the water sat on the work surface
b the old man sat (himself) on the chair
In (23a) the event expressed simply involves the relationship between the water and
the work surface, i.e. that the water was on the work surface. In (23b) on the other
hand, the event involves the old man doing something which results in him being
situated on the chair. Thus the two can be analysed in the following way:
(24) a e = e1
b e = e1 → e2
: e1 = ‘the water was on the work surface’
: e1 = ‘the old man did something’
e2 = ‘the old man was on the chair’
The simple event structure corresponds with the simple VP structure of the unaccusative.
We will see that more complex event structures lead to more complex VPs.
2.2
Light verbs
The next class of verbs we will consider is rather small and seemingly insignificant,
though we will see that they enable us to understand other VP structures in a more
illuminating way. Jesperson (1965) first coined the term light verb to refer to verbs
which, though they may have a fuller semantic usage in other contexts, can be used in
combination with some other element, typically a noun or verb, where their
contribution to the meaning of the whole construction is reduced in some way.
For example, consider the following:
(25) a
b
c
e
f
we had a walk
they did a dance
I took a look
she made a comment
you should give it a kick
=
=
=
=
=
we walked
they danced
I looked
she commented
you should kick it
In each of these examples, the italicised verb clearly contributes less of a meaning to
the whole sentence than verbs usually do, the main predicative content coming from
the deverbal noun in the complement position. However, it is not that these verbs
contribute no semantic content to the whole construction as the two sides of the equals
sign in (25) are not identical. This is made clear by the following examples:
(26) a I took a bath
= I bathed (myself)
b I gave him a bath = I bathed him
What light verbs actually contribute to the meaning of an expression is a complex and
subtle issue. For example, it seems from (26) that they do have something to do with
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Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases
argument structure as the main difference here is to do with the number of arguments.
The other examples in (25) demonstrate that the contribution of the light verb can
affect aspect (do a dance verses dance) and duration (take a look verses look) of an
event.
It seems that these verbs lie somewhere between thematic verbs with a full
descriptive content and functional verbs which play no role in the thematic structure of
the sentence. This is why they are called light verbs as they make a contribution to
thematic and other aspects of semantic structure, though a ‘lighter’ one than fully
thematic main verbs.
In the following cases, the light verbs take verbal complements, but function in a
similar way to the above:
(27) a I made the glass shatter
b they got the door shut
c we let the water run
= I shattered the glass
= they shut the door
= we ran the water
Again in these cases the light verbs do make a contribution to the meaning of the
construction and so the sentences on either side of the equation are not identical.
Interestingly, there seems to be different degrees to which these verbs contribute a
meaning, with make in (27a) contributing very little and let in (27c) far more.
Compare:
(28) a I made the door close
b I let the door close
Only in (28a) could it be said that I closed the door, though in both cases I did
something that resulted in the door becoming closed.
It has become standard in recent years to represent light verbs with a lower case ‘v’
rather than an upper case ‘V’, which is used for fully thematic verbs. We will adopt
this practice here.
What is the structure of the VP containing a light verb? Let us concentrate on the
cases in (27). In these we have the light verb itself with a subject to its left. To the right
we appear to have a VP containing the main verb and its arguments. Suppose we
assume that the main VP is a complement of the light verb. This would give us the
structure:
(29)
vP
DP
she
agent
v'
v
made
VP
DP
V'
the vase
V
theme
break
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Verb Types
The thematic relationships are straightforward. In the lower VP we have a situation
fairly similar to the VP in the previous section. The theme argument, the vase, is in the
specifier of the VP as we discovered previously. The verb break therefore looks fairly
similar to an unaccusative verb (we will investigate the properties of this type of verb
more fully in the next section). The specifier of the vP is interpreted as an agent and
therefore the light verb is clearly not unaccusative. This is not surprising as
unaccusative verbs either have no complement or prepositional ones, and here the light
verb has a VP complement. In terms of the UTAH, we might therefore propose that the
agent -role is assigned to the specifier of a (light) verb which has a VP complement.
If we include this complex VP in a sentence, we note that it is the agent that moves
to the clausal subject position and the theme appears to remain inside the VP:
(30)
she1 may have [vP t1 made [VP the window open]]
As the theme does not move, we can conclude that it gets Case in its original position.
Interestingly, there is no Case assigned when there is no light verb forcing the theme to
move out of the VP:
(31)
the window1 could have [VP t1 opened]
This is identical to what happens with unaccusative verbs (compare (31) with
(22)): the theme subject receives no Case in its original VP internal position and hence
has to move to the nominative subject position. So how does the theme get Case in
(30)? The obvious difference is the presence of the light verb and therefore we might
assume that it is this verb that is responsible for assigning accusative Case to the
theme:
(32)
vP
DP
v'
she
v
VP
made
accusative
DP
V'
the vase
V
break
Consider the event structure expressed by this verbal complex. It is fairly clear that
there is one (complex) event described by the light verb and thematic verb complex:
there is just one clause here with one subject. The event, however, is made up of two
sub-events: she does something and this causes the vase to break:
(33)
e = e1 → e 2
: e1 = ‘she did something’
e2 = ‘the vase broke’
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Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases
Note that the complex event structure is mirrored by the complex VP structure. There
are two sub-events and two parts to the VP, an upper vP and a lower VP. Moreover,
the vP corresponds to the first sub-event and the causative connection between the subevents. The VP corresponds to the sub-event that results from the first. This indicates
that there is a connection between event structure and syntactic structure, specifically
the more complex the event structure, the more complex the syntactic structure used to
represent it.
2.3
Ergative verbs
We have just seen that a verb like break can appear in a VP with a single theme
argument which in the absence of a light verb will be the subject of the clause. This
looks exactly like an unaccusative verb, yet there are differences between this class of
verb and the unaccusatives. For one thing, these verbs are not movement or locative
verbs, but typically involve a change of state:
(34) a
b
c
d
e
f
the window broke
the door closed
the glass shattered
the ship sank
the bomb exploded
the tree grew
Furthermore, these verbs do not appear in there sentences or locative inversion
structures:
(35) a *there broke a window
b *there sank a ship
(36) a *in the house opened a door
b *in the cupboard shattered a glass
Apparent exceptions to these observations may again be accounted for by assuming
an ambiguous status of the verb involved. For example, the verb grow can apparently
behave like an unaccusative:
(37) a there grew a tree in the garden
b in the garden grew a tree
In these examples, however, it might be that the verb has a locative interpretation
rather than a change of state interpretation. If we force the change of state
interpretation, the verb ceases to behave like an unaccusative:
(38) a the tree grew bigger
b *there grew a tree bigger
c *in the garden grew a tree bigger
Another major difference between this group of verbs and unaccusatives is that this
group can apparently appear in a transitive context:
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Verb Types
(39) a
b
c
d
e
f
I broke the window
she closed the door
he shattered the glass
they sank the ship
the police exploded the bomb
the gardener grew the tree
Most unaccusatives cannot appear transitively:
(40) a
b
c
d
*he arrived the letter
*they departed the train
*the magician appeared a rabbit
*the Romans lived the Picts in Scotland
Some can, however:
(41) a
b
c
d
we sat the guests at the table
he stood the ladder against the wall
the rats spread the disease
they ran a pipeline under the sea
In these cases, these verbs are unable to appear in there or locative inversion structures
and so again this may be another case of ambiguity:
(42) a *there sat the host some guests at the table
b *there spread the rats a disease
(43) a *against the wall stood the builder a ladder
b *under the sea ran the engineers a pipeline
These verbs that have a transitive and an unaccusative use are sometimes called
ergative verbs as the subject of the unaccusative version is interpreted the same as the
object of the transitive version:
(44) a [the ball] rolled across the pitch
b the players rolled [the ball] across the pitch
Languages which relate the subject of the intransitive verb with the object of a
transitive verb in terms of a shared case form, for example, are called Ergative
languages and while it is doubtful whether the phenomenon demonstrated in (44) has
anything to do with the ergativity we find in languages like Basque or Eskimo
languages such as Yupik, the term is a convenient one.
The transitive version of ergative verbs all have agentive subjects and theme
objects. A first attempt at representing the structure of a VP headed by an ergative
might be:
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Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases
(45)
VP
DP
V'
the butler V
agent
DP
opened
the door
theme
Unfortunately this is an entirely different set of -role assignments to what we
have previously found. We concluded above that the theme -role is assigned to the
specifier of a thematic verb, not its complement position. The agent, on the other hand,
was assigned to the specifier of a light verb taking a VP complement. If we are to
maintain the UTAH, either the structure in (45) is inaccurate, or our analyses of
unaccusative and light verbs is.
Moreover, the structure of the VP in (45) is simple, in comparison to that of verbal
complexes involving light verbs, as in (32), for example. Yet the event structure
expressed here is not simple. In the butler opened the door, there is an event involving
the butler doing something and an event involving the door being open and clearly the
first event causes the second. Hence the event structure is:
(46)
e = e1 → e2
: e1 = ‘the butler did something’
e2 = ‘the door opened’
If (45) is the correct analysis, then there is a mismatch here between event structure
and syntactic structure whereas in other cases we have seen there has been an
isomorphism between the two.
2.3.1 Potential problems
If we accept (45), a number of puzzles arise. First consider the alternation between the
transitive and unaccusative uses of ergative verbs. Why does the subject go missing in
this alternation and not the object and why does the object become the subject? A
possible answer to the latter question is that the unaccusative verb is unable to assign
Case and hence the object must move to subject position to satisfy the Case Filter:
(47)
the ship1 may have [VP sunk t1]
There is a fairly robust generalisation, named after the linguist who first noted it,
Luigi Burzio, that verbs which assign no -role to their subjects, do not assign
accusative Case to their objects. While Burzio’s Generalisation may offer a
description of what is going on in these cases, it is an unfortunate fact that the
generalisation has little in the way of explanatory content: why it should be that verbs
that have no subjects cannot assign accusative Case is entirely mysterious from this
perspective.
A second set of questions concerns the relationship between the transitive alternate
and the structure with a light verb and the unaccusative alternate:
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Verb Types
(48) a Mike made the ball bounce
b Mike bounced the ball
How come these structures mean virtually the same thing, especially as, as we have
seen, light verbs are not without meaning? Note that the subject of the ergative verb in
(48b) is interpreted as the causer of the ball’s bouncing, which is exactly the same
interpretation given to the subject of make, a causative verb. The event structure of
both examples is also the same:
(49)
e = ei → ej
: ei = ‘Mike did something’
ej = ‘the ball bounced’
But while the syntactic structure of (48a) is isomorphic with the event structure in (49),
if we analyse the sentence in (48b) as having a structure like (45) then the syntactic
isomorphism with the event structure is completely lost.
2.3.2 Light verbs and ergatives
One way to solve all these problems in one go would be to assume that the structure of
the transitive alternate of an ergative verb is as follows:
(50)
vP
DP
Mike
v'
v
e
VP
DP
V'
the ball
V
bounce
Under this analysis, the UTAH can be maintained as each argument sits in exactly
the position it should according to our previous analyses: the theme is the specifier of
the main verb and the agent is the specifier of the abstract light verb. Moreover the
event structure is represented in an isomorphic way with there being two parts to the
syntactic structure each of which relate to the relevant sub-event.
The disadvantages of this analysis are: i) there is an empty light verb and ii) the
wrong word order is predicted. The supposition of the empty verb is, of course, not a
problem in itself. We have seen a number of instances of empty categories that are
well justified and enable us to provide accounts for phenomena that would otherwise
be mysterious. As long as we can independently justify the assumption of an empty
element, given that language apparently makes use of such things, there is no problem
in the assumption itself. There is both semantic and syntactic evidence of the existence
of the empty light verb. We will return to the latter, but the semantic evidence is fairly
obvious: the structure is interpreted as a causative and the presence of this meaning
justifies the assumption of a light verb which provides it. Similarly, the presence of a
‘causer’ argument justifies the assumption of a predicate which assigns the relevant -
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Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases
role. As there is no such visible predicate which can do such things in (48b) our
conclusion is that this predicate is ‘invisible’.
But how can we even consider (50) as a possible analysis when it obviously gets
the word order wrong? The thing to remember is that what we are discussing here is
the organisation of the VP at D-structure and we know that things tend to move about
before we get to S-structure. Thus, if there is a plausible movement analysis which will
re-arrange things so that the right word order is achieved at S-structure, then this
objection will have been answered. The obvious way to achieve the correct word order
would be to have the verb move to the light verb position:
(51)
vP
DP
Mike
v'
v
VP
bounce1 v
e
DP
V'
the ball V
t1
The analysis claims that the main verb moves to adjoin to the empty light verb. This is
a perfectly possible movement given what we know about other movements. The
movement is neither too far, violating bounding conditions, nor in violation of the
Projection principle by changing lexically stated information. The movement is also
structurally preserving in the way that adjunction is structurally preserving.
Of course, showing something to be a possible movement and showing it to be an
actual movement are two different things. In order to justify the movement analysis in
(51) we might consider a similar construction in Hungarian. Consider the following:
(52) a legurította a labdát
down-rolled-3.s the ball-acc
‘he rolled the ball down’
b a labda legurult
the ball down-rolled
(53) a építette a házat
built-3.s. the house
‘he built the house’
b a ház felépult
‘the house (became) built’
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Verb Types
(54) a elmozdította a dobozt
away-moved-3.s. the box-acc
‘he moved the box’
b a doboz elmozdult
‘the box moved’
(55) a gépesítette a mez gazdaságot
mechanised-3.s. the farmland
‘he mechanised the farmland’
b a mez gazdaság gépesült
‘the farmland (became) mechanised’
As we see in these examples, Hungarian has a similar alternation with a set of
‘change of state’ verbs. Moreover, the transitive versions all have a causative reading,
just like the English examples we have been looking at. The interesting point is that
the Hungarian causative verbs have a special form with the morpheme ít indicating
causative:
(56)
pre-verb
le(fel-)
el-
stem
gur
ép
mozd
gépes
causative
-ít
-ít
-ít
-ít
tense
-ot
-et
-ot
-et
agreement
-ta
-te
-ta
-te
Putting aside the issue of tense and agreement inflections, it is possible to give a
very similar analysis of the Hungarian causative verbs to the one we proposed for
English causatives, with a causative light verb introducing the causative interpretation
and the agent subject:
(57)
vP
DP
v'
( )
v
agent
-ít
VP
DP
V'
a labdát
V
theme
gur
The difference between English and Hungarian, however, is that the causative
element is not phonologically empty in Hungarian. The ít morpheme, however, is a
bound morpheme, which means that it must attach to some appropriate stem, i.e. a
verb, and this is the trigger for the movement:
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Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases
(58)
vP
DP
v'
( )
v
gur1
VP
v
DP
V'
-ít a labdát V
t1
Thus the main verb stem moves to the causative light verb morpheme in order to
bind it. The product of the movement would obviously have to undergo further
morphological processes in order to show the appropriate tense and agreement forms,
but this is unimportant for the point being made here. Suppose English works in
exactly the same way as this. The English causative light verb is a bound morpheme,
though a phonologically null one, and differs only in this way from the non-null
causative make. Thus it must be attached to the main verb and this happens by the
main verb moving to adjoin to it. This would then give us an independent motivation
for the movement of the verb.
2.3.3 Unaccusatives and ergatives
Let us consider further aspects of the analysis of the ergative verbs. In the causative
construction, the agent is the subject and moves to the nominative position in finite
clauses. However the theme stays put inside the VP. In the non-causative, unaccusative
form, however, the theme is the subject and moves to the nominative position. Thus in
the causative construction the theme must be assigned Case in its original position and
this position must be Caseless in the absence of the causative light verb. This clearly
points to the light verbs as being responsible for the accusative Case of the theme, just
as we claimed for the overt causative structure:
(59)
VP
vP
DP
V'
DP
the door
V
she
closed
v'
v
closed1
VP
v
DP
V'
e the door V
accusative
t1
All of this demonstrates that ergative verbs can be analysed in exactly the same
way as unaccusatives, in their ‘intransitive’ use, and as being part of a causative
168
Verb Types
construction in their ‘transitive’ use. Indeed, ergative verbs themselves are identical to
unaccusatives, even in causative constructions as it is the causative light verb which
supplies the extra agent argument and the causative interpretation. For this reason,
many linguists refer to these kinds of verbs as unaccusatives. However, it still remains
that there are differences between the unaccusative verbs we reviewed above and the
ergative verbs reviewed in this section. For a start, ergatives cannot appear in the there
constructions and unaccusatives cannot appear in causative constructions:
(60) a *there rolled a ball across the pitch
b *there broke a glass in the cupboard
(61) a *Andrew arrived the letter
b *Lucy lived Ian in Scotland
It seems then that there is a complementary distribution between these verb types.
How are we to explain this? Complementary distribution patterns appear when two
elements of the same type try to occupy the same position: we can have one or the
other, but not both. In the causative construction, we know that there is a light verb
above the VP headed by the ergative. Could there possibly be a light verb above the
unaccusative VP in the there construction?
In order to evaluate this suggestion, let us consider the properties of the there
construction. The most obvious property is the fact that in this construction the subject
position is taken by there. This is a meaningless subject that bears no thematic role.
Such things are often called pleonastic or expletive subjects and their function seems
to be to act as a ‘place holder’ for the subject when no thematic element will occupy
this position. For example, consider the following:
(62) a Tim1 seems [t1 to be tall]
b it seems [that Tim is tall]
This is a case of raising, as introduced in chapter 3. In (62a) the subject of the
lower clause is raised into the subject position of the raising verb seem, demonstrating
that this position must have been empty at D-structure. In (62b), however, the thematic
subject of the lower clause does not move out of this clause. In this case the subject
position is filled by another expletive element it. It would be ungrammatical for this
position to be left empty, an indication that all English sentences must have subjects
regardless of whether one is semantically demanded or not. We will return to this
observation in the next chapter. Note however that this expletive subject differs from
the one used in there constructions, though their function (to fill a vacant subject
position) seems to be similar. It would be ungrammatical to use a there in raising
structures and it in there constructions:
(63) a *there seems [that Tim is tall]
b *it arrived a letter
This observation clearly calls out for an explanation. Another thing in need of
explanation is the fact the post-verbal theme obviously receives Case in this position
and does not have to move to subject position. It seems that this fact goes hand in hand
with the presence of the there subject as, in its absence, the theme must move to the
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Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases
subject position to get Case. This has led some to the conclusion that the there
somehow has a role in the assignment of Case to the theme. One possibility is that the
difference between an expletive there and an expletive it is that the former has the
ability to transmit the Case that it receives by occupying the subject position. If this is
so, then the post-verbal theme should get nominative Case as this is the Case that the
expletive gets:
Case transmission
(64)
there might have [VP settled some snow on the lawn]
nominative
It is unfortunately impossible to check this in English as we can only see visible
Case morphemes on personal pronouns and these are excluded from the post-verbal
position in the there construction as they are definite and only indefinite DPs can
occupy this position:
(65) a *there departed him
b *there lived he
A second problem with this assumption is that if there is able to transmit Case to
otherwise Caseless positions, it is not entirely clear why it is not used more often to
overcome similar problems when we find DPs sitting in Caseless positions.
The observation that the post-verbal DP is limited to indefinites has led to the
claim that neither nominative nor accusative Case is assigned to this position, but a
special Case which can only be born by indefinite DPs. Belletti (1988) proposed that
partitive Case is incompatible with definite DPs for semantic reasons and therefore
only indefinites can bear it. Thus if we assume that partitive Case is assigned to the
post-verbal position in there constructions, we can account for why only indefinite
DPs can appear in this position. The problem with this is that under these assumptions
it is not entirely clear why we have a there expletive and not an it. It would seem then
that the key to the proper analysis of this construction is the link between the there
subject and the Case marked indefinite DP in the post-verbal position.
Of course, we also need to explain why the theme argument, that we have claimed
to be generated in the specifier of the VP, sits behind the verb, not in front of it, in the
there construction:
(66) a there arrived a letter
b *there a letter arrived
Some of the properties of the there construction are similar to the causative
construction: a Case marked theme which follows the surface position of the verb and
some other element in the subject position:
(67) a there
b they
lived
opened
a dragon
(in the hills)
the window
These similarities can be captured if we assume that the post-verbal position of the
theme is achieved by movement of the verb in front of it and this necessitates the
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Verb Types
assumption of a position to which the verb moves. If we assume that this is indeed a
light verb, we can account for the Case assignment to the object as well:
(68)
vP
DP
v'
there
v
arrived1
VP
v
DP
V'
e
a letter
V
Case
t1
Obviously, this light verb is not the same as the one we get in the causative
construction as there is no causative interpretation here and no agent -role assigned.
In fact, this verb does not appear to have much of a meaning at all. But this might be
an advantage in accounting for the other properties of the there construction. Recall
Burzio’s generalisation: only a verb which assigns a -role to its subject assigns an
accusative Case. The causative light verb fits this restriction well: it assigns an agent
-role to its subject and an accusative Case to the theme in the specifier of the VP. If
the abstract light verb in the there construction is restricted by this, then the fact that it
assigns no -role to the there subject, accounts for why we do not find simple
accusative DPs in the theme position.
However, we do not want to say that there is absolutely no connection between the
abstract light verb and its subject, as there are restrictions placed on it: the subject must
be there and not it. Thus, suppose that there is a special argument of this predicate,
which receives no actual -role from it but is restricted by it. A similar notion of
‘quasi-argument’ has been proposed for cases such as:
(69) a it rained
b it snowed
c it’s windy
The it subjects that accompany weather predicates are clearly not arguments as they
have no referential content, but they are somehow not quite as empty as the expletive it
in examples like (62b).
One indication of the difference between the quasi-argument it and the expletive it
is that only with the former is a purpose clause licensed, i.e. a clause that acts to
modify a predicate by providing a purpose for the described event:
(70) a it rains [to feed the plants]
b *it seems [that Rob is rich] [to impress the neighbours]
c Rob seems [to be rich] [to impress the neighbours]
The intended interpretation of (70b) is that Rob pretends to be rich in order to impress
the neighbours, an thus it is the ‘seeming’ rather than the ‘being rich’ that is being
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Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases
modified by the purpose clause. The ungrammaticality of this sentence with this
interpretation demonstrates that expletive it is unable to license this kind of modifier.
When the thematic subject is raised, however, the purpose clause is grammatical. The
quasi-argument weather predicate it appears to behave like a thematic argument in this
respect as it does license a purpose clause. Obviously I do not want to claim that the
there subject in there constructions is the same thing as a weather predicate’s quasiargument subject.
But I have discussed this phenomenon to demonstrate that there are different
degrees of argumenthood and the claim I want to make is that there is somewhere
between a thematic argument and an expletive, which is supported by the fact that
purpose clauses can appear with there subjects:
(71) a water ran down the cliff face [to hide the mouth of the cave]
b there ran water down the cliff face [to hide the mouth of the cave]
Now let us suppose that this connection between the light verb and its restricted
subject, although it is not enough to license accusative Case, is strong enough to
license a Case that can be born by indefinites (perhaps partitive). We then have an
explanation for why the post-verbal theme is restricted to indefinite DPs. All in all
then, the supposition of a (very) light verb in the there construction leads to quite an
explanatory account of many of its properties.
2.4
Transitive verbs
It is time we turned our attention to those verbs that traditional grammars seem to
consider more central: transitive and intransitive verbs. What we have said so far has
far reaching repercussions for the analysis of these verbal subcategories. We will start
discussing these with respect to the transitives.
A transitive verb is one that has an object, i.e. a DP complement, and a subject. The
subject may be agent and the object patient, or the subject could be an experiencer and
the object theme. Patient and theme, from this perspective, differ in terms of a notion
of affectedness: a patient is affected by the action described by the verb while a theme
is unaffected by it:
(72) a Sam sawed the wood (to pieces)
b Sam saw the wood (*to pieces)
In (72a) we have the past tense form of the verb to saw, Sam is an agent and the wood
is patient. In this cases a resultative modifier like to pieces can be used to describe the
state of the object after being acted upon. In (72b) we have the past tense form of the
verb to see, Sam is an experiencer and the wood is an unaffected theme. Obviously in
these cases the resultative is inappropriate because nothing directly happens to the
object as a result of being seen. We will put the case of the experiencer–theme type
transitives to one side for the moment and start our discussion with the agent–patient
type.
Above we found that the agent -role was assigned by a light verb which takes a
VP complement. If we assume that the patient is a kind of theme, we might expect that
it is assigned to the specifier of a main verb:
172
Verb Types
(73)
vP
DP
Pete
v'
v
VP
e
DP
V'
the letter
V
posted
Again, if this were the final analysis of the construction we would derive the wrong
order with the verb following its object. Once again, however, we might assume that
the main verb raises to the light verb, presumably because of its bound morpheme
status:
(74)
vP
DP
Pete
v'
v
posted1
VP
v
DP
V'
e the letter V
t1
Thus the transitive receives the same analysis as the causative construction, which is
not surprising as causatives are the transitive use of ergative verbs.
What is the light verb in this case and how is the main verb related to the subject?
We might try the assumption that the empty light verb in this case is the same as the
one in causative constructions. From this point of view we would have the following
correspondence:
(75) a Mark made the bed
b Harry hit Bill
c Richard wrote the letter
= Mark made the bed be made
= Harry made Bill be hit
= Richard made the letter be written
But while the transitive statements in (75) do entail the relevant causative, in that if
Mark makes the bed, then the bed comes to be made and Mark had a hand in causing
this to come about, the two are not exactly the same. Particularly, it is not only the case
that subjects in (75) caused the event described by the verb to take place, but that the
subjects are the ones who actually did it! In other words, these subjects are not just
agents, they are agents of the relevant predicates. This might therefore argue that the
relevant structure should be:
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Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases
(76)
VP
DP
V'
Harry V
agent
hit
DP
Bill
patient
But then the -roles are assigned to different structural positions and the UTAH
cannot be maintained.
2.4.1 Evidence from passives
There is some evidence that the correct structure should be something like (74)
however. This comes from the fact that transitive verbs can undergo passivisation.
When a verb is passivised, it loses its agent and the object becomes the subject:
(77) a Mark made the bed
– the bed was made
b Harry hit Bill
– Bill was hit
c Richard write the letter – the letter was written
Even under a less strict view of the UTAH than we are attempting to keep to here,
one would like to assume that the object is generated in the same place in active
sentences and their passive counterparts. This has been the assumption since the
beginning of generative grammar in the 1950s. Thus, the object is generated in object
position in the passive, but moves to the subject position. Presumably the only reason
it would do this is to get Case. Thus while in the active structure the object gets Case
in object position, this ceases to be a Case position in the passive and hence not only
does a passive verb lose its subject, it also loses the accusative Case assigned to its
object. Again, these are fairly standard assumptions about the analysis of the passive
which have been proposed since the 1980s.
Interestingly, the passive is a construction which conforms to Burzio’s generalisation: the verb stops assigning a -role to its subject and loses the ability to assign
accusative to its object. But Burzio’s generalisation is a description of a state of affairs,
it is not an explanation of that state of affairs. What we need is something that links the
two properties. In previous examples we have seen a way to link the -role assignment
to the subject and the accusative Case assignment to the object: through the light verb
which is assumed to do both:
174
Verb Types
(78)
vP
DP
v'
Pete
v
VP
e
agent
accusative
DP
V'
the letter
V
posted
If the light verb ceased to be there, both the agent -role and the accusative Case
would be lost in one step. What would be left is the main verb with its patient
argument which would lack Case and hence have to move to subject position:
(79)
VP
DP
V'
the letter
V
posted
Thus, if we analyse the passive construction as involving the loss of the light verb, we
readily account for its two most salient properties.
We might extend this analysis to take into consideration other aspects of the
passive construction. It has been argued that one of the central aspects of the passive is
the appearance of the passive morpheme. The passive morpheme appears in all English
passives, no matter what else happens. Thus, not all passives involve an object moving
to subject position (80a), and while some passives contain a by phrase reintroducing
the missing subject, not all do (80b). Furthermore, most passive constructions involve
a passive auxiliary be, but not all (80c):
(80) a it is expected that Pete will post the letter
b the letter will be posted (by Pete)
c I will expect [the letter posted by noon at the latest]
In all these examples however, the passive verb has the passive morpheme. We can
incorporate this into our analysis of the passive making use of an idea presented above,
that certain bound morphemes can be analysed as light verbs. Suppose we assume that
the passive morpheme is a light verb which replaces the agentive light verb of the
active. As the passive light verb does not assign a -role to its subject, it will not be
able to assign a Case to the theme in the specifier of the VP and hence this argument
will have to move to subject position. Moreover, the bound morpheme status of the
passive light verb will force the main verb to move in order to support it:
175
Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases
(81)
vP
v'
v
post1
VP
v
DP
V'
ed the letter V
t1
From this perspective, then, the analysis of the passive involves replacing the agentive
light verb with a non-agentive passive light verb, most of the other aspects of the
passive construction follow straightforwardly from this.
A crucial point to make at this point is that this analysis of the passive would
simply be unavailable if we supposed that the structure of the active were to be (76)
and not (74). Inasmuch as this analysis helps us to understand the passivisation process
any better, then, it can be used as evidence in favour of the assumption of (74).
2.4.2 Extended projections
Yet if this is so, we still face the problem that the subject of an active transitive verb is
interpreted as the subject of that verb and not of some independent abstract light verb.
To understand this, it is essential to understand the relationship between light verbs
and thematic verbs in general. Recall that the semantic contribution of a light verb to a
construction is somewhat reduced from its full thematic usage:
(82) a I gave Charlotte chocolates
b I gave Kevin a kick in the pants
c I kicked Kevin in the pants
In (82a) the verb give is used fully thematically and it contributes its full descriptive
content to the whole sentence: the agent is in possession of the chocolates, and does
something (i.e. gives) that results in the recipient in possession of the chocolates. But
in (82b), where give is used as a light verb, it does not contribute its whole semantic
content. For example, it cannot be claimed that anything has been given here and
certainly Kevin does not end up in possession of a kick! Instead the main descriptive
content comes from the deverbal noun and hence the similarity of meaning of (82b)
and (c). It seems that semantically speaking, the complement of the light verb is the
main contributor to the construction and although light verbs do contribute something,
their contribution is often subtle and always dependent on the thematic complement.
This shows a very different relationship between a light verb and its complement and a
thematic verb and its complement. In the latter case, the thematic verb selects and
imposes restrictions on its complement whereas in the former, the light verb is in some
ways selected for and restricted by its complement: recall that unaccusative verbs do
not appear with the abstract causative light verb, but ergatives do. Suppose then that
the main semantic aspects of a light verb are determined by its thematic complement
176
Verb Types
and that these are passed up to it by a process similar to projection – something which
has been called extended projection, in fact. It would then depend on the thematic
verb how the argument of the light verb was to be interpreted, as a causer, not directly
seen as the agent of the thematic verb, or as a direct agent of that verb. We might
visualise this in the following way:
(83)
vP
DP
-role
v'
v
VP
extended
projection
projection
V'
V
projection
If this is right, then the agent subject of the light verb involved with transitive verbs
will receive its -role indirectly from the main verb, via the light verb, and hence will
be interpreted as the argument of the thematic verb. Of course the actual assignment of
the -role will be dependent on the presence of the light verb, as by the UTAH roles
such as agent can only be assigned to the specifier of a light verb.
2.4.3 Agent and experiencer subjects
What about the event structure of a transitive construction? Above we argued for an
isomorphism between the structure of the VP and the structure of the event it describes
such that each part of the VP corresponds to a separate sub-event. If transitive verbs
involve an agentive light verb, and hence there are two parts to the verbal complex, we
should expect that the event described by a transitive verb should consist of two subevents. But we have just seen that transitives are not causative: Harry hit Ron does not
mean that Harry does something that causes Ron to get hit. However, there is not
necessarily a direct relationship between what the subject does and the object getting
hit. Consider the following:
(84) a Harry hit Ron with his hand
b Harry hit Ron with a stick
c Harry hit Ron with a stone
We can see from these examples there is a sense in which there are two parts to a
hitting event: somebody does something and somebody or something gets hit as a
more or less direct result of this. There is obviously a very subtle difference between
this interpretation and a causative one, which we will not attempt to describe here. The
point is that the event structure of the transitive can be represented in a similar way to
that of a causative:
(85)
e = e1 → e 2 :
e1 = ‘Harry did something’
e2 = ‘Ron got hit’
Now let us turn our attention to verbs of perception which take experiencer
subjects.
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Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases
(86) a Sally saw a ghost
b Harry heard the news
c Fred fears the dark
The obvious question that needs to be asked is whether the experiencer subject
occupies a similar position to an agent subject or a different one. The choices would
seem to be to place the experiencer in the specifier of an abstract light verb, or to place
it in the specifier of the thematic verb:
(87) a
vP
DP
b
v'
Harry v
DP
VP
e
VP
V'
Harry V
heard the news
heard
DP
the news
One observation that might be relevant here is that there are some verbs which take
both agent and experiencer arguments. With these verbs, the agent always precedes the
experiencer:
(88) a Freddy frightened me
b Ursula upset the waiter
c Dennis disappointed his parents
Assuming that the agent is in the specifier of a light verb, these observations suggest
that the experiencer is in the specifier of the thematic verb, like theme arguments:
(89)
vP
DP
v'
Freddy
v
VP
fightened1 v
DP
V'
e
me
V
t1
This would support the structure in (87b) which has the experiencer in the specifier of
the thematic VP, as in (89).
A second observation that seems to support (87b) concerns the event structure of
transitive verbs with experiencer subjects. Certainly there does not appear to be a
causative relationship between what the subject is interpreted as doing and what
happens to the object. (86c), for example, does not appear to be interpretable as Fred
doing something that results in the dark being feared. Instead it seems that these
sentences express a simple state of affairs with no sub-events:
178
Verb Types
(90)
e = e1
: e1 = ‘Fred fears the dark’
If there is an isomorphism between event structure and VP structure and (90) is the
correct analysis of the event structure involving an experiencer subject transitive verb,
then (87b) appears to be the correct structure of the VP.
However, an obvious disadvantage of (87b) is that the theme is placed in the
complement position which is counter to what we have previously discovered. If the
theme goes in the specifier of the thematic verb, then there is no alternative than to
include the experiencer in a higher position which would mean adding an abstract light
verb. A further disadvantage of (87b) is that transitive verbs with experiencer subjects
can be passivised. We have analysed passivisation as a process which removes the
light verb responsible for the assignment of the -role to the subject and the Case to
the object, replacing it with the passive morpheme. If there is no light verb responsible
for assigning the experiencer -role, it is not at all clear how these verbs could
undergo passivisation: what would the passive morpheme replace and why would the
experiencer -role and accusative Case go missing? Moreover, the passivisation of
these verbs casts doubt on the assumption that they have a simple event structure.
Passivisation of agentive verbs by getting rid of the agentive light verb turns a verb
with a complex event structure into one with a simple one:
(91) a Harry hit Ron
e = e1 → e2 : e1 = ‘Harry did something’
e2 = ‘Ron was hit’
b Ron was hit
: e1 = ‘Ron was hit’
e = e1
But if experiencer transitive verbs have a simple event structure and we remove the
experiencer, what are we left with? Surely we cannot be left with half an event! This
would argue that the event structure of experiencer transitives is similar to that of
agentive transitives:
(92) a Fred fears the dark
e = e1 → e2 : e1 = ‘Fred experiences something’
e2 = ‘the dark is feared’
b the dark is feared
e = e1
: e1 = ‘the dark is feared’
To argue for this in any depth, however, would take us beyond the scope of this book
and into areas such as psychology and philosophy. Therefore we will assume this to be
the case, based on the linguistic arguments so far presented.
2.4.4 Multiple light verbs
If we assume that experiencers are assigned their -roles in the specifier position of a
light verb, we face a problem in analysing verbs with agent and experiencer arguments
as in (88). What is puzzling about these verbs is how they can exist at all, given our
assumption that agent and experiencer receive their -roles in the same position. The
only analysis available to us, if we wish to maintain the UTAH, is to assume that there
are two light verbs in these constructions, one for the agent and one for the
experiencer:
179
Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases
(93)
vP
DP
Ursula
v'
v
e
vP
DP
v'
the waiter v
VP
e
V'
V
upset
The event structure of these verbs seems to support this analysis as it does seem
rather complex:
(94)
e = e1 → e2 → e3 : e1 = ‘Fred did something’
e2 = ‘I experience something’
e3 = ‘I am frightened’
To get the right word order we will have to assume that the verb moves to the highest
light verb and in fact, the verb will have to move to them both, one after the other, if
abstract light verbs are bound morphemes:
(95) a
vP
DP
Ursula
v'
v
e
vP
DP
v'
the waiter
v
upset1
VP
v V'
e V
t1
180
Verb Types
b
vP
DP
v'
Ursula
v
v2
upset1
vP
e
DP
v'
v
the waiter v
e
t2
VP
V'
V
t1
The first step, represented in (95a), involves the verb moving to the lower light verb
and adjoining to it. The next step in (95b), takes the light verb with the thematic verb
adjoined to it and moves this to adjoin to the upper light verb. The result is a multiple
head adjunction structure of the type discussed in chapter 2.
Multiple light verbs are not unheard of in languages which make more of an overt
use of them than English. Consider the following Urdu example:
(96)
nadyane saddafko xat lik lene
diya
Nadya-erg. Saddaf-dat. letter write take-inf. give-perf.Masc.s
‘Nadya let Saddaf write a letter (completely)’
The verbal complex at the end of this single clause consists of a thematic verb (write)
and two light verbs (take and give) where the inner one (take) adds some aspectual
meaning of perfection and the outer one (give) seems to add a modal meaning of
permission. Even in English we can have a series of light verbs stacked one on top of
another:
(97)
I made him let her take a look
But while this seems a possible analysis for these structures therefore, it does raise
the question of why the light verbs are ordered as they are: why is the agentive one
always higher than the experiencer one? The answer may have to do with the notion of
extended projection. The essence of this is that the thematic verb to some extent
controls the -roles assigned by the light verbs. It has been proposed in several places
that there is a hierarchy of -roles which plays a part in the order in which they are
assigned. For example, we might suppose that agents are higher in the hierarchy than
experiencers and these in turn are higher than themes:
(98)
agent > experiencer > theme
The -roles lower on the hierarchy have to be discharged on to an argument before
those higher up. The UTAH ensures that -roles can only be discharged in certain
positions and in combination with (98) we get the following pattern. The first -role to
181
Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases
be assigned is the theme, if there is one. As this can be assigned to the specifier of the
thematic verb it will be. Next the experiencer -role must be assigned, providing there
is one. This can only be assigned to the specifier of a light verb so the thematic verb
will extend its projection to include a light verb and the experiencer -role will be
assigned to its specifier. Finally, if there is an agent, again this can only be assigned to
the specifier of a light verb and hence will force the verb to extend its projection. If
there already is an extended projection, a second light verb will be added to
accommodate the agent. Thus, the agent will always be higher in the structure than the
experiencer and theme.
2.5
Intransitive verbs
Intransitive verbs are verbs with one argument, but unlike unaccusatives this argument
is either an agent or an experiencer, i.e. one of the -roles assigned to the specifier of a
light verb. Accordingly then, we may analyse them as involving the following
structure:
(99)
vP
DP
v'
v
VP
e
V'
V
The one argument will move to the subject position in order to get Case and
presumably the verb will move to support the light verb.
Examples of intransitives are as follows:
(100) a
b
c
d
Sam smiled
Jerry danced
Richard died
Stan slept
Recall that one mark of an intransitive verb, as opposed to an unaccusative, is its
ability to take a cognate object:
(101) a
b
c
d
Sam smiled an evil smile
Jerry danced a merry dance
Richard died a tragic death
Stan slept a restless sleep
Given the structure in (101) a number of possible analyses of cognate objects suggest
themselves. One is to assume that these are like theme arguments, though obviously
highly restricted by the thematic verb and hence they appear in the specifier of the VP
and end up behind the verb when it raises to the light verb position:
182
Verb Types
(102)
vP
DP
Sam
v'
v
smiled1
VP
v
DP
V'
e
a smile
V
t1
From this perspective, the only difference between a cognate object and a normal
object is the restricted semantic relationship that holds between the cognate object and
the intransitive verb. Another possible analysis suggests itself through the similarity
between intransitive verbs with cognate objects and light verbs with deverbal noun
complements:
(103) a he smiled a smile = he smiled
b he took a peep
= he peeped
Perhaps then what a cognate object is, is not a virtually meaningless repetition of
the verb as is standardly assumed, but the main predicative element in the sentence and
it is the verb which has a reduced ‘light’ meaning. This analysis has possibilities, but
we will not follow it up further.
If we analyse intransitives as involving a light verb, the question arises as to why
we cannot passivise an intransitive:
(104) a *it was smiled by Sam
b *it was died by Richard
This is quite mysterious given our previous analysis of the passive. However, it should
be noted that the inability to passivise intransitives is a language particular fact and not
a universal truth about intransitives. German intransitive verbs, for example, can
passivise:
(105)
Es wurde getanzt
it was danced
‘there was dancing’
This at least shows that in principle passivisation is not incompatible with intransitives
and that the reason why intransitives cannot passivise in English must therefore be due
to some other particular property of the language. Note that unaccusatives do not
passivise in any language:
(106)
*it was arrived (by the letter)
183
Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases
(107) a In de zomer wordt er hier vaak
gezwommen.
In the summer is
it here frequently swum
‘In the summer, there is frequently swimming here’
b *In de zomer wordt er hier vaak
verdronken.
In the summer is
it here frequently drowned
‘In the summer, there is frequently drowning here’
This is to be expected given our analysis of the passive and the fact that unaccusatives
do not involve light verbs.
The event structure of intransitives is also a little problematic as we predict it to be
complex if intransitives involve light verbs, but a sentence like Sam smiled does not
obviously express a complex event structure. However, it is not impossible to think of
this as involving a situation in which Sam does something which results in a smile,
which is made more plausible by comparison with the overt light verb construction:
(108) a Sam smiled
b Sam did a smile
If intransitives are in fact formed from an underlying structure involving a ‘cognate
object’ and a light verb as suggested above, then the parallel between (108a) and (b) is
even stronger. We might therefore propose the following analysis of the event
structure:
(109)
e = e1 → e 2
: e1 = ‘Sam did something’
e2 = ‘there was a smile’
In all then the analysis of intransitives is relatively unproblematic.
2.6
Multiple complement verbs
So far we have been concerned with verbs that have either one or two arguments, but
there are cases of verbs with more. In this section we will look at a number of verbs
which have three arguments, again trying to maintain the UTAH and using this as a
guide for the analysis of the VP’s structure.
Within the standard X-bar structure there are two positions in which we find
arguments: specifier and complement:
(110)
XP
YParg
X'
X
YParg
Verbs with more than two arguments have therefore been considered as problematic.
However, once we consider the role of light verbs as assigners of -roles regulated by
the thematic verb, we can see that it is possible to extend the -roles assigning domain
of a thematic verb to more than two positions. This is essentially the approach we will
adopt here.
As a first case of a multiple complement verb, consider verbs of placement:
184
Verb Types
(111) a
b
c
d
Porter put the book on the shelf
Prudence placed the penguin on the podium
Steve stored the potatoes in the cellar
Karen kept the hamster in a cage
Each of these predicates involves an agent, a theme and a locative. It is fairly obvious
what the structure should be from what we have discussed so far. The agent is
introduced as the specifier of a light verb, the theme is the specifier of the thematic VP
and the locative PP is in the complement position:
(112)
vP
DPagent
v'
v
VP
DPtheme
V'
V
PPlocative
Of course, the verb moves to the light verb position and the word order is as
predicted. That the complement position of the thematic verb is the position to which
the locative -role is assigned is supported by the fact that this seems to be where we
find locative PPs with unaccusative verbs, which we have argued do not involve a light
verb:
(113)
VP
DP
V'
the table V
sat
PP
in the kitchen
The event structures of these verbs however indicate that the analysis might be a
little more complex than we have indicated in (112). For example, consider what is
involved in ‘putting’. There is an agent who performs some action and there is a theme
which undergoes a change of position and there is a location where the theme ends up.
Thus the event structure seems to be:
(114)
Porter put the book on the shelf
: e1 = ‘Porter did something’
e = e1 → e 2 → e 3
e2 = ‘the book changes location’
e3 = ‘the book is on the shelf’
An isomorphic analysis of the VP would have an extra light verb than indicated in
(112). We will see that perhaps there is evidence for this.
Another similar set of verbs involves a PP denoting a goal or beneficiary:
185
Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases
(115) a
b
c
d
Gary gave a present to Petunia
Sonia sent the letter to Larry
Knut knitted a sweater for Susan
Barry baked a cake for Karen
Again, the arguments are similar, involving an agent, a theme and a PP complement
expressing the goal or beneficiary and so we can expect the structure to be similar.
This structure is sometimes called the dative construction. The interesting thing about
these verbs is that they can often enter into another construction which means virtually
the same thing as the dative, only involving two DP complements:
(116) a
b
c
d
Gary gave Petunia a present
Sonia sent Larry the letter
Knut knitted Susan a sweater
Barry baked Karen a cake
This is known as the double object construction as the verb has two objects,
traditionally referred to as the indirect and the direct objects respectively.
But the analysis of this construction is problematic:
(117)
vP
DPagent
v'
v
VP
DPgoal
V
V'
DPtheme
In this structure the theme is sitting in the complement position of the thematic verb,
not the specifier, and the goal is in the specifier. The indirect object is obviously
interpreted in the same way as the PP is in the dative construction and so we should
expect it to appear in the complement position if the UTAH holds. We might try to
account for the properties of the double object construction via a movement analysis,
using the dative construction as the underlying arrangement as this seems relatively
unproblematic. The question is, what moves and where does it move to? A minimal
assumption is that besides the verb moving to the light verb position, one of the
arguments moves to change their order. Thus, either the theme moves backwards or
the goal moves forwards. If the theme moves backwards, it isn’t clear what position it
would move to and moreover it isn’t clear why it would move, given that the position
it occupies seems to be a Case position in virtually all other cases we have looked at.
The goal argument is slightly different however. In the dative construction there is a
preposition and this we might assume is what is responsible for providing the
argument with its Case. In the double object construction, however, this preposition is
not present and hence the argument cannot be assigned Case in the same way. This
would then provide the motivation for the argument to move to a position in which it
could get case. Considering the problem more closely the goal must move to a phrasal
position between the specifier of the VP, occupied by the theme, and the light verb to
186
Verb Types
which the main verb moves. The only possibility is that there is another specifier
position between the two:
(118)
vP
DPagent
v'
v
XP
DP
X'
X
VP
V'
DPtheme
V
DPgoal
The remaining problems to solve are the identity of X and how the theme argument
gets Case if the goal argument gets the Case assigned by the light verb. The obvious
answer to the latter is that X provides the theme with its Case, which in turn suggests
that X is a Case assigning head, i.e. a verb or a preposition. If X is a verb, we have a
structure which is identical to those involving multiple light verbs:
(119)
vP
DPagent
v
v'
vP
v'
v
VP
DPtheme
V'
V
DPgoal
Can this analysis be justified? If one thinks of the event structure involved in the
meaning of these verbs they all seem to work as follows:
(120)
e = e1 → e2 → e3 : e1 = ‘X does something’
e2 = ‘Y changes location or possession’
s3 = ‘Y is in a certain location or possession’
In other words, if Gary gives Pete a present, Gary does something which causes the
book to undergo a movement or change of possession, the result of which it ends up
with Pete. The middle event, involving a change of position or possession is what
provides us with the position for the moved goal:
187
Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases
(121)
vP
DP
v'
Gary1
v
v
DP
v e
Pete
v3
gave2
vP
e
v'
v
VP
t3
DP
V'
a present V
t2
DP
t1
The verb movement is as we have seen before. As both light verbs are bound
morphemes, both will need supporting and so the verb will move from one to the other
forming a complex head adjunction structure in the top head position. As far as Case
relationships are concerned, the subject DP is in a Caseless position and hence will
move to the clause subject position to get nominative Case. The indirect object gets
accusative from the upper light verb in the position it moves to and the direct object
gets Case from the lower light verb without moving. The word order is as predicted
with the verb preceding both the objects and the indirect object moved in front of the
direct object.
2.7
Phrasal verbs
A set of verbs which demonstrate some unique properties are known as phrasal verbs.
These appear with what looks to be a preposition, traditionally referred to as a
particle, following them:
(122) a the plane took off
b the patient came to
c time ran out
One obvious fact about these verbs is that their meaning is usually idiomatic in that it
is not straightforwardly computed from the meaning of the verb and the meaning of
the preposition combined. To take off, for example, means ‘to become airborne’ and to
come to means ‘to become conscious’.
These verbs do not behave like those which take a PP complement and the two
types of verb can be distinguished in a number of ways:
(123) a he took off his hat
b he lived in a hut
he took his hat off
*he lived a hut in
(124) a in this hut, he lived for ten years
b *off this hat, he took in an instant
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Verb Types
(125) a he lived right near a mountain
b *he took right off his hat
(126) a he lived near the forest and next to a river
b *he took off his hat and off his coat
Much of this evidence seems to suggest that the preposition does not act as the
head of a preposition phrase, but forms a unit with the verb. For example, while (124a)
shows that the PP complement of a verb can be moved to the front of the clause, it
seems that the particle plus the following DP cannot be moved (124b), indicating that
it is perhaps not a constituent. Moreover, as we have seen in (125a) a PP can be
modified by an adverb like right, but this is not possible for the particle followed by a
DP (125b). Finally, we can coordinate a PP complement with another PP (126a), but
we cannot coordinate the particle plus the following DP with a PP, indicating that the
particle does not form a PP with the following DP. For this reason, it is often claimed
that the particle forms a syntactic unit with the verb, perhaps being adjoined to it:
(127)
V'
V
V
find
DP
P the answer
out
However, it should also be observed that the verb and the particle do not seem to
behave like a complex verb and in a number of ways, the verb is still independent of the
particle, which would not be expected if (127) were the correct analysis. For one thing, the
verb bears all inflections, and these are not stuck onto the end of the phrasal verb itself:
(128) a faded out
b fading out
c fades out
*fade outed
*fade outing
*fade outs
From the other side of things, the particle seems independent of the verb, in that it
can move separately from the verb, as already pointed out in (123), but demonstrated
again here:
(129) a he looked up the word
b she held up the bank
c they put off the meeting
he looked the word up
she held the bank up
they put the meeting off
A final problem for (127) is that it tends to go against the general pattern of
compounding in English. When a complex head is formed from two heads by
adjoining one to the other, it is generally the case that the head of the compound is the
leftmost element. This is true in compound nouns and adjectives, but also with verbs:
(130) a armchair, milk jug, family film, white lie, etc.
b dark brown, ice cold, rock hard, squeaky clean, etc.
c outdo, undercut, overspend, over wrap, dry clean, etc.
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Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases
In all these cases of compounding, the rightmost element provides the compound with
its syntactic and semantic properties. So an armchair is a kind of chair not a kind of
arm and a white lie is a noun not an adjective.
We might assume that these compounds are formed by adjoining the modifying
element to the left of the head:
(131)
X
modifier
X
This is clearly the opposite of the phrasal verb, with the preceding verb being taken as
the head:
(132)
V
V
P
When the particle is separated from the verb by an object, it seems to have properties
that it cannot have when it precedes the object. For example, we have seen that, unlike
a preposition, the particle cannot be modified by an adverb in (125b). However, in the
post-object position it can be modified by an adverb:
(133) a *he took right off his hat
b he took his hat right off
Moreover, when the particle is behind the object, it cannot have an object of its
own, but it can when it follows the object:
(134) a *enough to put off his food the dog
b enough to put the dog off his food
Obviously, this is a very unique kind of construction with many mysterious properties.
Let us see if we can solve at least some of these mysteries. When a phrasal verb has an
object, this object is often a theme and hence we would expect it to go in a specifier
position of the thematic verb. This verb should follow its specifier, leaving the
complement position available for a PP complement. This works fine for an example
such as (134b):
(135)
vP
DP
v'
the cat v
e
VP
DP
V'
the dog V
put
PP
off its food
190
Verb Types
In this structure, presumably the main verb will move to support the light verb and the
right word order will be achieved. It would seem reasonable to assume that the particle
construction with the particle following the object is derived in exactly the same way,
with the preposition heading a PP which has no other content:
(136)
vP
DP
v'
the cat v
e
VP
DP
V'
the dog V
PP
put
off
Again the verb will move to the light verb position and the word order is predicted.
The fact that the particle heads a PP accounts for its ability to be modified by an
adverb, as in (133b).
The tricky part is to account for the pre-object particle. If we assume that (136) is
the basic structure of the construction, then we might analyse the pre-object particle
construction as derived by a movement of the preposition head to the verb, so that
when the verb moves to the light verb position, the preposition is taken along with it:
(137) a
vP
DP
v'
the cat v
e
VP
DP
V'
the dog V
V P
PP
t1
put off1
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Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases
b
vP
DP
v'
the cat
v
V2
V
put
VP
v
DP
V'
P e the dog V
off1
PP
t2
t1
Note that the structure that is formed by the movement of the particle is the same as
the one that is traditionally assumed to be the basic structure for a phrasal verb, with
the preposition adjoined to the verb. Of course this means that the preposition does not
form a PP with the following DP in the specifier of the lower VP and hence we
account for why it does not behave like a PP complement, which would have an
entirely different structure (see (136) for example).
The question needs to be addressed as to why the movement of the preposition is
allowed and when it is not. Obviously not every verb that has a PP complement allows
this movement, and indeed those verbs which do allow it do not allow it in all
circumstances:
(138) a they put the meeting off
b he put the book on the shelf
c they put the meeting right off
they put off the meeting
*he put on the book the shelf
*they put off the meeting right
It seems that it is only when the verb has a PP complement which consists only of a
prepositional head that the preposition is allowed to move out of the PP. If the
preposition itself has a complement, or if it is modified, then it is not allowed to move.
It is not entirely clear why this should be, as other heads can move out of their own
phrases when there are other elements in other positions within them. For example, we
have seen many cases of a verb moving out of the VP when its specifier or
complement are filled by its arguments. Another observation from (138) might help to
shed some light on the problem. Note that when the verb has a simple PP complement,
it has a different interpretation: to put something off does not mean the same as to put
something somewhere. Similarly, put down, put on, put back, put over, etc. all have
somewhat idiosyncratic meanings that are not simply related to the meaning of put as a
verb of placement. So, put down can mean ‘to kill’ (of animals), put on ‘to fake’, put
back ‘to delay’ and put over ‘to convey’. This might suggest that it is not the same
verb we are looking at in all these cases and especially they are not the same verb as in
(138b). If this is true then it could be that the ability of the preposition to move might
be lexically restricted by the verb: some verbs allow it, others do not. Of course, this
still does not explain why those that do allow the preposition to move only take
‘simple’ PP complements, which contain just the preposition and so we cannot be said
to have solved all the mysteries of phrasal verbs here. In fact we have probably only
just scratched the surface and it has to be admitted that phrasal verbs present many
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Verb Types
very difficult problems for analysis under any set of assumptions. We will therefore
leave this topic at this point and be content with the meagre understanding of them that
we have gained.
2.8
Verbs with clausal complements
A class of verbs which are often traditionally lumped together with transitive verbs are
verbs which have clausal complements:
(139) a
b
c
d
e
f
Theo thinks [Sally is smart]
Wanda wants [Larry to leave]
Bob believes [Tim to be tall]
Harry hopes [for Fiona to fall in love with him]
Tony tried [to look innocent]
Albert asked [why Wendy went]
As can be seen from the limited data in (139), there are a wide range of possibilities
for clausal complements. Some verbs take finite clause complements (139a), while
others take non-finite complements of various kinds (139b–e). Some complements are
declarative (139a–e) while others are interrogative (139f). The possibilities are
determined by the verb, as we would expect.
An obvious question to ask is where the clausal complement sits with respect to the
verb. There are a number of possibilities. In some ways the clausal complement is
rather like an object, which is what leads traditional grammars to conclude that these
verbs are transitives. For instance, many of these verbs can appear with an object,
sometimes with a similar meaning to the clausal complement:
(140) a Sam said something
b Albert asked the time
Sam said [that Tim is tall]
Albert asked [what the time was]
Moreover, some of these verbs can undergo passivisation, and as we have seen, in
English, only the transitive verbs can passivise:
(141) a it was believed [that Tim is tall]
b Chris was considered [to be clever]
This might lead us to the conclusion that they should be treated like objects and be
placed in the specifier of the VP, with the verb moving to a light verb position to
precede it:
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Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases
(142)
vP
DP
v'
he
v
VP
e
S
V'
that she is sad
V
thinks
There are however, a number of problems facing this analysis. First, when a verb
takes both a DP and a clausal complement, invariably the DP precedes the clause:
(143) a
b
c
d
I asked [him] [where to get off]
I told [him] [that I would write a letter]
I persuaded [him] [that the moon was made of cheese]
I promised [him] [to be good]
In each case of the above, if the DP followed the clause it would be ungrammatical.
Moreover, if there is a PP complement and a clause, the PP tends to precede the clause:
(144) a it seems [to me] [that the gudgeon pin is broken]
b I shouted [at him] [to get out of the bath]
b we demand [of you] [that you tell the truth]
If we consider the thematic roles assigned to these arguments, typically the DP
arguments receive a goal -role: the one to whom the event described by the verb is
directed. The clause has a theme -role. We saw with dative/double object verbs, the
goal argument sits in the complement position of the thematic verb, but may move in
order to get Case. If this is what is going on here, then the structure should be:
(145)
vP
DP
they
v'
v
vP
e
v'
v
e
VP
S
V'
to pay V
DP
asked
194
me
Verb Types
In this, the verb moves from light verb to light verb and the DP moves to the specifier
of the first light verb to get Case from the higher one. A similar structure would have
to be supposed for the PP arguments. However, this structure does not seem to reflect
the event structure of such verbs, which seem to consist of just two events:
(146)
e = e1 → e2 : e1 = they did something
e2 = I was asked to pay
A second problem is why the PP argument would undergo the same movement as
the DP as PPs do not need Case and do not normally undergo this kind of movement.
Hence it appears that there is not much to recommend this analysis.
If we want to maintain the UTAH we cannot just assume that the arguments start
off in different positions, however. So we want to keep the basic structure of the VP as
it is in (145). We need to simplify the light verb structure, getting rid of one of these to
match with the event structure and finally we need to find a way of getting the PP in
front of the clause that does not assume that it undergoes a similar movement to DPs.
The structure is as follows:
(147)
vP
DP
v'
v
VP
S
V'
V
DP/PP
One way to get the PP in front of the clause without moving the PP would be to move
the clause backwards, perhaps to adjoin to the VP or v'
:
(148)
vP
DP
v'
v
VP
VP
t
S
V'
V
DP/PP
Do we have any evidence that clauses can undergo the supposed movement and
any motivation for it to take place in this instance? Actually, there is some evidence
that certain clauses can undergo a backward movement:
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Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases
(149) a the announcement [that the prime minister had resigned] was broadcast on
the radio
b the announcement was broadcast on the radio [that the prime minister had
resigned]
In this example, the bracketed clause is the complement of the noun announcement
and hence is part of the DP subject, as is clearly the case in (149a). In (149b) this
clause not only does not appear to be part of the subject, but it is right over the other
side of the clause from the subject. It seems therefore that the clause moves towards
the back of the clause and therefore that backward movement of clauses is a
possibility.
But why would the clause have to move backwards in a structure like (148)? Note
that the clause occupies a position to which Case is assigned: the light verb assigns
accusative Case to the specifier of the VP. There is an old idea, dating back to Stowell
(1981), that clauses avoid Case positions. While it might seem that clauses occupy
similar positions to DPs, there are a number of reasons to think that this is not so. For
example, we do not get clauses in the complement position of prepositions, a position
to which Case is assigned:
(150) a she spoke about [her theory]
b *she spoke about [that brontosaurs are thin at both ends and fat in the middle]
Moreover, while it might look as though clauses can occupy subject positions (to
which Case is assigned), there are observations which indicate that sentence subjects
are not in the same position as DP subjects:
(151) a did [Ursula] upset you?
b *did [that Ursula got drunk] upset you
(152) a this theory, [I] just can’t accept
b *this theory, [that the space probe found no pizzerias on Mars] disproves
The data demonstrate that certain things which are possible when there is a DP subject,
are not possible with a clausal ‘subject’. For instance, the auxiliary can move to the
front of the clause to form a question in (151a), but not in (151b) where there is a
clausal subject. In (152a) we can see that an object can be moved to the front of the
clause in what are called topicalisation structures, but not when the subject is clausal
(152b). These observations might suggest that the clausal subjects are in a position
which prevents the relevant movements and that DP subjects sit in a different position
which does not interfere with them. Obviously the DP subjects sit in Case positions, as
required by the Case filter and therefore our conclusion is that clausal subjects do not
sit in the Case position that the DP subject sits in. All this might be accounted for if we
assume that clauses avoid Case positions and this would warrant the clause moving out
of its D-structure position in (147) into a position that is Caseless. We therefore
assume the following principle:
(153)
the Case avoidance principle
clauses avoid Case positions
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Aspectual Auxiliary Verbs
2.9
Summary
To summarise this fairly long discussion of the structure of the VP, we can conclude
that strict adherence to the UTAH and the assumption that there is isomorphism
between event structure and VP structure leads us to sometime quite surprising but
enlightening analyses of the central part of the clause. The VP itself seems a hive of
activity, with verbs and arguments moving about from position to position which
obviously complicates its description. However, the reasons for the movements
themselves are fairly straightforward. The verb moves to support the abstract light
verbs which have a bound morpheme status, DP arguments move to Case positions
and clausal arguments move away from Case positions. Once such things are
understood, some rather mysterious properties of VPs become demystified.
Phenomena such as passivisation, double object alternation, the there construction,
cognate objects and phrasal verb constructions are given a fairly satisfying analysis
which we can take as encouraging for this approach.
3
Aspectual Auxiliary Verbs
We now move a little away from the thematic verb phrase to look at the aspectual
auxiliaries of English, have and be. As introduced in section 2 of this chapter, aspect is
a semantic phenomenon concerning the events described by verbs in terms of their
internal timing. We also pointed out that this is a rather complex issue which we will
not be investigating in this book. Instead, we will concentrate on the syntactic aspects
of the auxiliaries and associated elements trying to determine their structural positions
and syntactic nature.
In chapter 1, we established that the aspectual auxiliaries are non-thematic, nonfunctional verbal elements, which are therefore categorially distinct from modal
auxiliaries which are functional verbs. We might assume that they are associated with
a phrase which they head and this phrase contains the thematic VP complex. A first
attempt to represent the structure is as in (154):
(154)
VP
V'
V
vP
has the electrician seen the light
Remember, that what we are looking at there is the D-structure, before movement
takes place. Thus this structure is that of a declarative VP, not an interrogative one. At
S-structure the subject will move out of the vP to the clausal subject position, where it
will get Case:
(155)
the electrician1 [VP has [vP t1 seen the light]]
We will discuss this issue in the next chapter.
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Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases
3.1
The auxiliary as a dummy
One very interesting fact about aspectual auxiliaries is that each auxiliary is
accompanied by a specific morpheme which is always realised on the verbal element
which follows the auxiliary:
(156) a
b
c
d
has seen the light
has been seeing the light
is seeing the light
is being seen
The fist two examples in (156) show that the auxiliary have is always followed by a
verbal element in the ‘en’ form (though there is irregularity here and the morpheme is
not always represented like this – see chapter 1). This element may be a main verb, as
in (156a) or the auxiliary be as in (156b). The auxiliary be is followed by a verbal
element in its ‘ing’ form and again this can either be a main verb (156c) or another
auxiliary, as in (156d), where we have the passive auxiliary be. We have already seen
that the passive morpheme is another instance of en. This attaches only to main verbs,
a fact which follows from the analysis given above where the morpheme was treated
as a light verb immediately above the thematic VP to which the main verb will move.
What is the nature of the two parts of each aspectual elements, the auxiliary and its
associated morpheme? A classic analysis dating back to Chomsky (1957) is that the
auxiliary and its morpheme are inserted into a structure as one element and then the
morpheme is ‘hopped’ backwards onto the following verbal element:
(157) a have+en see
=
has seen
b be+ing see
=
be seeing
c have+en be+ing see
=
have been seeing
However some of the details of this analysis were never fully worked out. What is
the lexical status of the auxiliary plus morpheme element, for example? If it is to be
considered a single lexical item, how is it possible that a syntactic rule can break it
apart? But if it is not a single element, what is the relationship between the two parts
and how do we ensure that they are always inserted into a structure together?
A related issue concerns the meaning that aspectual elements bring to the sentence.
Of the two elements, which is the meaningful one? There are at least three
possibilities. Perhaps the most intuitive one is that the aspectual meaning is
contributed by the auxiliary and the morpheme has no semantic input. However, it is
possible that the meaning contribution is made by the morpheme and the auxiliary is
meaningless, or that both elements have a contribution to make. One relevant
observation is that the use of meaningless auxiliaries is not unheard of in English. The
classic example is the auxiliary do which seems to have a variety of uses, mainly to do
with providing an element to fulfil a purpose that the main verb is not suited for. For
example:
198
Aspectual Auxiliary Verbs
(158) a
b
c
d
did you see that?
I didn’t see that
you DID see that!
you saw that, didn’t you?
In these examples, the auxiliary do adds very little to the meaning of the sentence,
apart from the fact that it carries tense. However, given that main verbs can do this,
this is clearly not the main function of the auxiliary in these examples. Instead the
auxiliary is used to do something that main verbs cannot do. In (158a), the auxiliary is
moved to the front of the clause to form a question, in (158b) it is used to bear the
contracted negative, in (158c) it bears stress in order to assert something that had
previously been denied and in (158d) it is used to form a tag question, the main
function of which is to lessen the force of a statement. As the following show, these
are all things that we cannot use a main verb to do:
(159) a
b
c
d
*saw you that?
*you sawn’t that
you SAW that
*you saw that, sawn’t you?
The ungrammaticality of most of the sentences in (159) shows that the main verb
cannot be used in this way. That (159c) is not ungrammatical does not indicate that it
is an exception, however, as this has a different meaning to (158c). In (159c), the
emphasised verb is used to question or contradict a previous statement in terms of the
content of the verb itself. So, for example, if someone claimed to have seen something
that was invisible to others, (159c) might be an appropriate response. Importantly,
(159c) could not be used to contradict someone’s claim that they did not see
something, i.e. contradicting the truth of their statement. The point is, then, that the
auxiliary do is inserted into a sentence to do something that is impossible for a main
verb to do and hence it has a purely syntactic role rather than a semantic one. For this
reason it is often called the dummy auxiliary. Perhaps its main function is to support
the tense morpheme when, for whatever reason, this cannot appear on the main verb
and hence the phenomenon is also called do-support.
Another instance of the use of a meaningless element might be the use of the
copula be in examples such as the following:
(160) a Tim is tall
b Ferdinand is a fake
c Gertrude is in the garden
Considering the semantic relationships that exist in these sentences, we notice that they
are established between the subject and the predicative element after the verb: Tim and
tall, Ferdinand and a fake and Gertrude and in the garden. Again, the main function of
the verb here appears to be to support the tense morpheme and it seems to make very
little contribution of its own. Indeed, in circumstances where there is no need to
express the tense morpheme, the verb is not used:
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Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases
(161) a I consider [Tim tall]
= I consider [that Tim is tall]
b I deem [Ferdinand a fake]
= I deem [that Ferdinand is a fake]
c I wanted [Gertrude in the garden] = I wanted [Gertrude to be in the garden]
The bracketed part of the sentences on the left in (161) express the same predication
relationships as those on the right and the only difference between the two is the
expression of tense in the latter. Thus it looks as though the copula is used to support
the tense morpheme when predication relationships are established between a subject
and a non-verbal element. It is interesting that the verb be is used in this case, not the
verb do as it is in cases of do-support. Even though both elements seem to contribute
little to the interpretation of the sentence, it seems that their use is specialised to
certain contexts: do for cases where the main verb fails to be able to support tense and
be for cases where there is no verb present to support tense. I know of no explanation
for this fact.
One more possible use of a meaningless verbal element which follows from an
analysis developed above is the use of the auxiliary be in the passive. We analysed the
passive construction as involving the replacement of an agentive light verb with a nonagentive one, realised as the passive morpheme. From this perspective then, the
passive morpheme is the defining element of the passive construction. Of course, most
passives also make use of the passive auxiliary be:
(162) a Sam was seen
b Harry was being hit
c Barry was believed to have been murdered
What is the function of the auxiliary in these sentences? Note that the auxiliary bears
some morpheme: in (162a) the tense, in (162b) the ing associated with the progressive
auxiliary and in (162c) the tense on the first passive auxiliary and the en associated
with the perfective have on the second. In these examples, the main verb cannot bear
these morphemes for the simple reason that it is already bearing the passive morpheme
and it seems a basic principle of English morphology that no word can bear more than
one overt inflectional morpheme:
(163) a *it seened/sawen
= it was seen
b *she fallend/fellen
= she had fallen
c *Ron runninged/ranning = Ron was running
Thus, again, we might say that the passive auxiliary is used to support a morpheme
that the verb is unable to due to restrictions on the morphological structure of English.
Again note that the form of the auxiliary used is restricted to context: the auxiliary
must be be in this case, not do. Support for this approach can be gained from observing
contexts in which there is no other morpheme to be supported, in such cases the
passive morpheme is not present:
(164) a I saw [the treaty signed]
b they heard [the charges read out]
c we felt [the earth moved]
In these cases, there is an ambiguity that must be checked for. For example, what was
seen in (164a) could either be taken to be an object (the treaty that was signed) or an
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Aspectual Auxiliary Verbs
event (the treaty being signed). It is the latter interpretation that is relevant here as this
clearly involves a predication-like structure that simply lacks tense, similar to the
examples in (161). Of course, the important observation is that here we have a passive
construction involving a passive morpheme, but no passive auxiliary. This indicates
that the function of the passive auxiliary is to bear an inflection rather than to add any
semantic content.
Given the similarity between the passive construction and those constructions
involving aspectual elements, it seems likely that they should receive a similar
analysis. From this perspective, it is the aspectual morpheme that carries the semantic
content and the associated auxiliary is merely a dummy inserted to bear another
morpheme that the verb is prevented from bearing by the aspectual morpheme itself.
3.2
The nature of the aspectual morpheme
Taking the similarity of the passive morpheme and aspectual morphemes one step
further, we might argue that aspectual morphemes are another kind of light verb,
which is not surprising as light verbs can affect the aspectual interpretation of the
structure they are included in. The Urdu example given above and repeated here for
convenience, uses a light verb lene ‘take’ to indicate the perfective status of the event
described:
(165)
nadyane saddafko xat lik lene
diya
Nadya-erg. Saddaf-dat. letter write take-inf. give-perf.Masc.s
‘Nadya let Saddaf write a letter (completely)’
The analysis of the aspectual structure of English might therefore be as follows:
(166) a
vP
b
vP
v'
v
v'
VP
ing DP
the door
v
V'
en
V
close
VP
DP
V'
the door
V
close
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Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases
c
vP
v'
v
vP
en
v'
v
VP
ing DP
V'
the door
V
close
In all these cases, the main verb will move to support the lowest aspectual morpheme
at which point it cannot move any further as its morphological structure is complete
and cannot be added to. As the aspectual morphemes do not play a role in assigning roles, they also do not have the ability to assign Case as some light verbs do. Thus, the
theme will have to move to subject position to get Case.
Finally, presuming the clause to be finite, some element will have to bear the tense
morpheme. As the verb cannot do this, the relevant dummy auxiliary will be inserted
into the tense position: have in the presence of en and be in the presence of ing. In
(167c) there is the extra complication that there are two aspectual morphemes as well
as the tense morpheme. In this case the verb moves to the lowest aspectual morpheme,
ing, and an inserted auxiliary will bear the other morphemes, be for the perfective and
have for the tense:
(167) a - ed [en [the door close]]
have
b - ed [ing [the door close]]
be
c - ed [en [ing [the door close]]]
have
= the door1 had [closed2 [t1 t2]]
= the door1 was [closing2 [t1 t2]]
= the door1 had [been [closing2 [t1 t2]]
be
With these assumptions then we can successfully account for the distribution of the
aspectual elements in the English clause. We will provide more detail of the upper part
of the clause structure including the tense and clausal subject position in the next
chapter.
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Adverbs, PPs and Clausal modifiers
4
Adverbs, PPs and Clausal modifiers
To complete this chapter, we will briefly mention modification in the VP. Modifiers
may generally be associated with adjuncts and so the modifiers of the VP can be
assumed to be adjoined somewhere within the VP structure we have introduced above.
There are restrictions however, which partly depend on general conditions and partly
depend on the nature of the modifier itself. We will briefly look at each type of
modifier in turn.
4.1
Adverbs
Adverbs are the classic verbal modifiers. We should be careful, however, to
distinguish between them, as some do not modify within the verbal domain of the
clause, but have a wider domain of operation, modifying clausal elements. Roughly we
can separate VP adverbs from sentential adverbs. Consider the following examples:
(168) a he certainly will find out
b he will quickly find out
The adverb in (168a) modifies the meaning of the whole clause: what is certain is that
he will find out. In contrast, the adverb in (168b) modifies the verb, stating that it will
be done in a certain manner (i.e. quickly). Note the different positions of these two
adverbs: the sentential adverb precedes the modal auxiliary while the VP adverb
follows it and is therefore closer to the VP. Indeed, placing the VP adverb further from
the VP often produces an ungrammaticality:
(169) a *he quickly will find out
b *she suddenly has realised her mistake
c *the doctor thoroughly may examine the patient
These sentences can be made more acceptable if heavy stress is placed on the finite
element, but with neutral stress they are ungrammatical, indicating that something
special has to happen to get the adverb away from the VP it modifies.
It seems a reasonable conclusion therefore that VP adverbs are adjoined to the VP
itself. But the VP is a fairly complex structure, as we have seen. Where in the VP can
the adverb adjoin? Consider the possible range of positions we can find the adverb in:
(170) a
b
c
d
e
will accurately have been making notes
will have accurately been making notes
will have been accurately making notes
*will have been making accurately notes
will have been making notes accurately
There looks to be a good deal of freedom in determining the position of the adverb and
thus it appears to be able to adjoin to virtually any part of the VP. The one exception is
that the adverb may not intervene between the verb and its object. However, the
adjacency requirement between the verb and its object is not so straightforward to
account for under the assumptions we have been making. Other accounts of this
restriction have made different assumptions. For example, Radford (1988) assumes
that the object is in the complement position of the verb and that the adjacency
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Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases
requirement between the two is a reflex of X-bar theory itself: the head must be
adjacent to its complement otherwise an ill formed structure results:
(171)
XP
X'
X'
X
adjunct
complement
If an adjunct is placed between the head and its sister, i.e. the complement, the branches
of the structure cross and this is not a possible configuration. The problem with this
account, however, besides its reliance on the assumption that complements are all sisters
to the head, is that it is not at all clear why various movement phenomena would not
separate the head from its complement. Another account, due to Stowell (1981) assumes
that the verb is responsible for assigning Case to the object and that there is an
adjacency requirement on Case assigners and assignees. As we have assumed that the
theme gets its Case from the light verb, we cannot use Case adjacency to account for
why the verb and its theme argument cannot be separated. Even if we assume that Case
assigners must be adjacent to the element they Case mark, this will not prevent the verb
moving to a higher light verb position allowing an adverb to come between the two:
(172)
vP
DP
v'
v
vP
AP
vP
v'
v
VP
DP
V'
V
This structure has the adverb phrase adjoined to the lower vP and the verb moving to
the higher light verb. Such a structure would be possible either when there is both an
agent and an experiencer argument, or if the top light verb is an aspectual morpheme.
The structure that would be produced however would be ungrammatical as the adverb
would appear between the verb and its theme argument.
We might try to account for this restriction by limiting the kinds of structure that
the adverb can adjoin to. But this seems unlikely as under certain conditions adverbs
appear to be able to adjoin to virtually any part of the VP:
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Adverbs, PPs and Clausal modifiers
(173) a
b
c
d
the letter1 might [VP eventually [VP t1 arrive]]
Peter2 might [vP suddenly [vP t2 punch1-v [VP Paul t1]]]
water2 is [vP steadily [vP pour1-ing [VP t2 t1 out of the bath]]]
Betty2 has [vP annoyingly [vP beat1-en [vP t2 t1 [VP me t1 again]]]]
In (173a), given that there is no light verb with an unaccusative verb, the adverb must
be adjoined to the VP. In (173b) the adverb is adjoined to a vP headed by an agentive
light verb and in (173c) and (d) it is adjoined to a vP headed by aspectual morphemes.
Thus there seems to be no limit in principle on what the adverb can adjoin to. In each
of these cases however, the adverb is adjoined to a higher position than the verb moves
to. When there is no light verb, as in (173a), the verb is not forced to move out of the
VP and in this case the adverb can adjoin to the VP. If the verb moves out of the VP,
however, the adverb cannot adjoin to it. Indeed, anything that the verb moves out of is
out of bounds for an adjunction site for the adverb. This suggests that the adverb
interacts with the movement of the verb and it is this interaction that determines the
possible adjunction sites for the adverb. Specifically, it seems that the verb never
moves over the top of the adverb. Hence, we may assume that in principle an adverb
can adjoin to any part of the extended VP, including any light verb projection, as long
as the verb remains lower than it at S-structure and does not move over its adjunction
position. There are a number of ways in which we might attempt to account for this
fact, but at present we will be satisfied at leaving it as a descriptive generalisation.
Another observation that can be made from the data in (170) is that adverbs may
appear behind all verbal elements. There are a number of possible ways to capture this
fact. One is to assume that adjunction is free from ordering restrictions. Indeed it does
seem that different adjuncts can come on different sides of whatever they modify: the
PP modifier, as we shall see, typically follows the verbal complex. Thus, adjunction in
general is not restricted to a particular side as are complements and specifiers. Adverbs
therefore may simply take advantage of this freedom and be adjoined either to the left
or the right of the VP. The alternative would be to have adverbs generated on one side
of the VP and then achieve the other position via a movement. Jackendoff (1977), for
example, argued for this position on the basis of the similarity between adverbs and
adjectives. Recall that in chapter 1 we analysed adverbs and adjectives as belonging to
the same general category, so one might expect grammatical principles to apply to
both in a similar way. Jackendoff’s observation was that adjectives typically precede
the nouns that they modify:
(174) a stupid fool
b heavy book
c precocious child
*fool stupid
*book heavy
*child precocious
If we assume therefore that the basic position of the adjective is before the noun
that it modifies, we might take this to indicate that the basic position of the adverb is
before the verb that it modifies and therefore that its post-verbal position is a derived
one. We are not really in much of a position to be able to evaluate either of these
positions and therefore we will leave the matter unresolved.
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Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases
4.2
PP modifiers
The other main modifier in the VP is the PP. This differs from the AP modifier in its
distribution in that it always follows the verb. Thus a PP modifier has a far more
restricted distribution than an adverbial one:
(175) a
b
c
d
*may in the lake have been swimming
*may have in the lake been swimming
*may have been in the lake swimming
may have been swimming in the lake
Understandably, we cannot get a PP modifier between a verb and its complement, just
like Adverbs, however we can separate a verb from its PP complements:
(176) a *flowed under the bridge the river
b live with his mother in Paris
The only way for (176a) to have been generated would be to adjoin the PP to the left
of the lower VP. However, PPs never adjoin to the left, only to the right, and moreover
this would necessitate the verb moving over the PP adjunct. As this is impossible for
AP modifiers, we can assume that it is impossible for PP modifiers as well. In (176b),
assuming the locative PP to be the complement of the verb, the only way for this to get
behind the PP adjunct would be for it to move. And hence we can assume that there is
a backwards movement that PP arguments may undergo which is similar to the
movement that clausal complements undergo, as discussed in section 3.8. That PP
complements may undergo such a movement is supported by the following data:
(177) a a book about penguins was published last week
b a book was published last week about penguins
In this example, the PP is part of the subject DP and yet it may appear on the opposite
side of the clause to the subject, indicating that it can undergo this kind of movement.
DP complements, however, cannot move backwards past a PP adjunct as can be
seen by (176a). We might assume that this is because the DP must occupy a Case
position and hence cannot move away from its specifier position in the VP. However,
this is not so straightforward as DPs can be moved out of Case positions in some
instances and moreover some DPs can undergo backward movement:
(178) a this exercise1, I don’t think anyone can [do t1]
b which book1 were you [reading t1]
c you should complete t1 in ink [every form with a blue cross at the top]1
In (178a) and (b) the object has undergone a movement to the front of the clause, out
of its Case position. But if this is an allowable movement, why should it not be
allowed to move to the back of the clause? In (178c) the object has moved backwards
behind the PP adjunct with ink. In this case, the DP is very long and complex involving
quantification and post head modification. A simpler DP would not be allowed to do
the same thing:
(179)
*you should complete t1 in ink [the form]1
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Adverbs, PPs and Clausal modifiers
We can call the phenomena noted in (178c) heavy DP shift (leaving undefined just
what counts as a ‘heavy DP’). It is common to find the attitude that heavy DP shift is a
slightly odd phenomenon. However, given that other elements can undergo backward
movement and given the fact that DPs of any weight can undergo certain forward
movements, what is odd is the refusal of ‘light’ DPs to undergo backward movement.
Obviously there are mysteries here that we cannot yet approach and so again we will
set the issue aside.
4.3
Clausal modifiers
Finally in this chapter we will note the possibility of modifying a VP with a clause. As
we have seen with adverb modifiers the most straightforward VP modifiers are those
that modify the manner of the verb. It is not possible to use a clause in this way
however, and so it is not easy to tell whether a clause is a VP or a sentential modifier.
However, there are certain reasons to think that some clausal modifiers are situated
inside the VP.
Without going too much into the details of clause structure itself, a task we will
undertake over the next chapters, certain non-finite clauses appear to have a missing
subject:
(180) a Bert bought a Ferrari [to impress his friends]
b they set fire to the building [to collect the insurance]
Although these clauses seem to lack a subject, it is immediately obvious that a subject
is interpreted: in (180a) it is Bert who will be doing the impressing and in (180b) it is
they who will collect the insurance. We call this phenomenon control. There is an
element in the main clause who is interpreted as, or who ‘controls’ the missing subject
of the modifying clause. There are restrictions, however, on which argument can act as
the controller:
(181)
Fred phoned the plumber [driving to the office]
In this case, only Fred can be interpreted as the one who was driving. It seems that the
object is too far down inside the clause to act as controller. This is supported by the
following observation:
(182)
the witness claimed the defendant paid a lot of money [to attract attention to
himself]
The reflexive pronoun himself can either refer to the witness or the defendant. But
note, this depends on what the purpose clause is thought to modify. In one case it is the
defendant’s paying money that attracts the attention and in the other case it is the
witness’s claim that attracts the attention. In the first case, himself refers to the
defendant and in the second it refers to the witness. What is not possible is to interpret
the purpose clause as modifying the claiming event and for the reflexive to refer to the
defendant or for the purpose clause to modify the paying event and the reflexive to
refer to the witness. In other words, neither of the following are possible
interpretations of (182):
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Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases
(183) a the purpose of the witnesses claim that the defendant paid a lot of money was
to attract attention to the defendant
b the witness claimed the purpose of the defendant paying a lot of money was
to attract attention to the witness
We can account for this in the following way. We know from chapter 3 that
reflexive pronouns must refer to something within their own clause and in (182) the
only thing that could be the referent of the reflexive is the missing subject. The
missing subject is in turn controlled by some other element in the clause and hence
limitations on the reference of the reflexive indicate limitations on the control of the
subject. When the purpose clause modifies the higher verb, only the subject of this
verb can act as the controller and hence be the ultimate referent of the reflexive. It
seems that the subject of the other clause is ‘too low down’ in the clause to act as
controller. On the other hand, this subject can act as controller when the purpose
clause modifies the lower verb.
Having established that there are structural conditions on what can act as a
controller, consider the following examples:
(184) a Harry hired Freda [to fire the security guard]
b Harry fired Freda [to hire the security guard]
(184a) is ambiguous in terms of who is doing the firing: it could be Harry or Freda.
(184b) is not ambiguous however as here only Harry can do the hiring. What can
account for this difference? We have seen that the structural position of the purpose
clause affects what can be the controller and so it might be that there are different
possible positions for the purpose clause within the structure. The structure of the main
VP in (184a) is as follows:
(185)
vP
DP
v'
Harry v
e
VP
DP
V'
Freda
V
hire
As agent, Harry is the specifier of an agentive light verb and as theme Freda is the
specifier of the main verb. The verb will move to support the light verb as usual. We
know in this case, the purpose clause can either be controlled by the subject or the
object and so it must be able to attach to the structure high enough to allow subject
control and low enough to allow object control. Suppose we assume that the purpose
clause can adjoin either to the v'or to the V'
:
208
Conclusion
(186) a
vP
DP
v'
Harry
v'
v
e
S
VP
to fire the security guard
DP
V'
Freda
V
hire
b
vP
DP
v'
Harry v
e
VP
DP
V'
Freda V'
V
S
to fire the security guard
hire
The two structures relate to the two possible meanings. When the purpose clause is
adjoined to the v'
, as in (186a), then the agent can control the missing subject, and
when it is adjoined to the V'
, as in (186b), then the theme can control the missing
subject. For some reason, when fire is the head of the VP, the purpose clause can only
be adjoined to the v'and hence only the agent can be the controller. Hence there will
be no ambiguity. Note that the facts as such demonstrate that the purpose clauses must
be able to attach within the VP so that objects can act as controllers. If this were never
the case, we would only be able to get subject control.
5
Conclusion
In this chapter we have taken a detailed look into various aspects of the structure of the
VP. We have seen how the semantics of the verb, particularly in its argument and
event structures, influence the way the VP is built. The argument structure to a large
extent determines the complementation of the verb and the event structure plays a role
in determining the extension of the VP into various vPs built on top of it.
In numerous places we have mentioned the sentence, which the VP is a major part,
but have so far refrained from discussing, using the symbol ‘S’ to stand instead of a
proper analysis. One important aspect of clausal structure for the VP is the position of
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Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases
the subject, which as we have maintained throughout this chapter starts off inside the
VP, but moves to the nominative position somewhere higher in the clause. We will
consider issues such as this in the following two chapters when we discuss clause
structure in more detail.
Check Questions
1
Explain the notions ‘event structure’ and ‘aspect’.
2
Compare unaccusatives with ergative and intransitive verbs. Consider the event
structure of the verbs, their complementation, the position and theta roles assigned to
the complements, the ability to appear in causative and/or passive contexts, diagnostics
for telling them apart, and further properties.
3
Consider the specifier position in a projection headed by a light verb and a
thematic verb. How can it be argued that the two specifier positions are assigned
different theta roles?
4
What evidence is available to support the assumption that there is an empty
light verb in the transitive counterpart of a light verb+unaccusative verb structure?
5
How is passive conceptualised in the text?
6
What assumption(s) provides a way out of the problem(s) that both agent and
experiencer arguments occupy [Spec, vP] at D-Structure? What other evidence is
available to support the existence of multiple light verb constructions?
7
What is the analysis proposed for multiple complement constructions
developed in the text?
8
What arguments are put forward against the assumption that clausal
complements occupy the [Spec, VP] position?
9
On the basis of the text make a list of verb-types identified.
Test your knowledge
Exercise 1
Identify instances of a semantically contentless ‘there’ and ‘it’ in the sentences below.
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
g
h
i
j
There was a man at the door.
He put the book there.
The apples are there.
There is no reason to fight.
It took them two hours to get there.
It appears to be out of order.
It appears that he got lost.
I take it that the answer is ‘no’.
There are no policemen there.
He had a hard time of it in the army.
210
Test your knowledge
Exercise 2
Determine the subcategory of the verbs in the following sentences. Justify your choice
with the help of different distributional tests. Finally, give their syntactic structure as
well.
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
g
h
i
j
k
l
m
n
o
A face appeared behind the window.
Susan sang.
Michael moved my map from the middle.
The bomb blew up.
Larry laughed.
Kevin killed Karen.
Ben brought a bulldog for Betty.
Norah knows Nick.
The boat sank.
The letter lay on the table.
The window opened.
A train arrived at the station.
Walt watered the flowers.
Dick died.
Gary gave Greg a gift.
Exercise 3
Provide the given forms of verbs.
Verb
Tense
Aspect
see
saw
bring
come
think
sing
read
write
eat
fall
buy
tell
pull
go
send
past
present
future
present
past
future
present
past
future
past
present
past
future
past
future
perfect
progressive
perfect
perfect
progressive
perfect
progressive
perfect
progressive
perfect
perfect
progressive
progressive
perfect
perfect
Person
&
number
3Sg
1Pl
2Sg
3Pl
2Sg
3Sg
3Pl
3Sg
1Sg
3Sg
2Sg
3Pl
2Pl
3Sg
3Pl
211
Voice
passive
active
passive
active
active
passive
passive
passive
active
passive
active
passive
active
active
passive
Form
Chapter 5 - Verb Phrases
Exercise 4
Some events can be described in two ways: with or without the usage of a light verb.
Give the other possible versions of the following events, that is, transform the
sentences. (Aspectual differences are irrelevant here.)
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
g
h
The boy walked.
I gave an answer to the question.
The professor commented my essay.
She never takes a look at him.
We had a drink together.
The professor spoke about the economic situation of China.
Everyone involved in the project made their contribution to the exercises.
She has finally decided.
Exercise 5
Determine whether the following sentences contain a phrasal verb with the help of
appropriate tests.
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
g
h
i
j
Lawrence lived in Liverpool.
My neighbour takes after my uncle.
We must make up this list.
He ran up the hill.
We have done up the buttons on our coats.
He came out of his office.
Suddenly she broke into tears.
The prisoner did in his mate.
Guards broke up the fight.
The workers pulled down the old building.
Exercise 6
How can the following ambiguous sentence support the v'
–V'analysis?
(1)
John closed the window again.
Exercise 7
Group the subjects in the sentences below according to whether they are associated
with an agent, theme or experiencer theta role.
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
The man laughed heartily.
The bell rang.
Peter loves Mary.
She lay in his arms.
They found the bag empty.
f
g
h
i
j
212
The bag was empty.
It feels cold today.
Peter heard some noise downstairs.
Peter cooked dinner.
Dinner was cooking.
Chapter 6
Inflectional Phrases
In the previous chapter we detailed the structure of the central part of the clause, the
VP and its extensions into light verb and aspectual morpheme structures. In this
chapter we will look at the further extension of the structure so far built into what we
can conceive of as ‘clause structure’, though as we shall see, what is traditionally
thought of as a clause is actually a number of hierarchically organised extensions of
the basic VP, each of which adds a specific level of semantic and grammatical
interpretation. In connection with these extra levels we will see there are specific
syntactic phenomena, most of which involves the movement of elements.
In chapter 1 we introduced the category of inflection, consisting of modal auxiliaries,
the marker of the infinitival clause to and tense morphemes. It is with this category
that we will be concerned in the present chapter. We will show that providing a
standard X-bar treatment of this element solves a number of problems that we have
noted in previous chapters.
1
The structure of IP
Inflectional elements are word level categories such as will, can, may, must, etc. as
well as to, -ed (and its numerous irregular manifestations) and -s. In chapter 1 we
argued that these all belong to one category, ‘Inflection’ (I) because of their
complementary distribution:
(1)
a *Mike might will see the doctor
b *Bill will to go to work
c *Cathy can watches TV.
In all of the sentences in (1) there are two inflectional elements and each time this
produces an ungrammaticality. Therefore not only can we conclude that each of these
elements belongs to the same category, but that there is only one position for this
category in each clause.
We also suggested in chapter 1 that inflectional elements take verbal complements
on the observation that they are always followed by a VP (or perhaps a vP, depending
on the properties of the verb). From an X-bar point of view, this suggests that
inflections are to be treated as heads as only a head takes a complement. If this is right,
then we predict that there will be a phrase that the inflection heads; an IP:
(2)
IP
I'
I
VP
Chapter 6 - Inflectional Phrases
Note that this is a fundamentally different type of structure than the VP that we
investigated in the previous chapter. In the VP, apart from the main verb itself, light
verbs, both -assigning and aspectual types, select verbal complements and project a
verbal phrase. Hence one light verb can take a complement headed by another and a
complex VP can be built. Inflections, however, take verbal complements but project an
IP. This accounts straightforwardly for why there can only be one inflection per clause
as there can only be one IP per clause.
What is the nature of the IP and what else does it contain? Just as inflections are
always followed by the VP, they are also typically preceded by the subject in its
surface position, though as we pointed out the subject originates inside the VP (vP) at
D-structure and moves to get Case:
(3)
a Maggie1 might [vP t1 mend the lawn mower]
b for Tony1 to [type the letter] (would be helpful)
c Harry1 had [vP t1 helped the police]
A phrasal position to the left of a head could be taken to be its specifier. Clearly the
subject is a phrase and it always precedes the inflection at S-structure and hence we
might assume that the position to which the subject moves, when it leaves the VP, is
the specifier of the IP:
(4)
IP
DP
I'
no one1 I
vP
will t1 dance tonight
Note that apart from complementisers, which we will discuss in the next chapter, and
adverbials, which we will discuss at the end of the present chapter, this structure
accounts for all elements of the clause. Specifically we have a subject position, an
inflection and a VP predicate: the three obligatory parts of the clause. It seems
reasonable to claim therefore that the IP IS the clause. This point of view addresses an
issue raised in chapter 3 concerning the exocentric nature of the clause. There we
discussed reasons for not considering the subject or the VP as the heads of the sentence
as they do not seem to have the right properties of a head. Traditionally therefore it has
been assumed that clauses are headless.
However, the traditional assumption is challenged by the analysis in (4), where it is
claimed that clauses most definitely do have heads. There is much evidence to support
this. Firstly consider the relationship between the inflection and the clause. The
inflections come in two basic types: finite and non-finite. The finite inflections consist
of the modal auxiliaries and tense morphemes. The infinitival marker to is non-finite,
but we also get clauses, traditionally called participles, in which the inflection on the
highest verbal element is either ing or en (or one of its irregular versions):
(5)
a we are anxious [for Sam to succeed]
b the crowd watched [the fire brigade rescuing the cat]
c I saw [the cat rescued by the fire brigade]
214
The structure of IP
In the previous chapter, we analysed the morphemes in (5b) and (c) as light verbs
heading a vP and so the status of the embedded ‘clauses’ in these examples is unclear
at the moment: they may be clauses (i.e. IPs) or they may be simple vPs. We will not
attempt to deal with this issue here, returning to it in a later chapter. But there are some
similarities between these clauses and the infinitival clause in (5a) which are useful to
consider. Traditionally, those clauses containing a finite inflection are called finite
clauses and those containing a non-finite inflection are non-finite clauses. Thus the
relationship between the inflection and the clauses has been long acknowledged. I
suspect that the relative semantic unimportance of inflections and the lack of
recognition of their syntactic importance have contributed to the fact that traditional
grammars have failed to recognise them as heads.
It is important to realise that there are differences between clauses headed by finite
inflections and those headed by non-finite inflections to see that inflections really do
have a contribution to make to the clause. To start, clauses headed by a finite inflection
can be main clauses and do not have to be embedded, though they may be:
(6)
a Will won’t stop the car
b I suppose [Will won’t stop the car]
In contrast, clauses headed by non-finite inflections are always embedded:
(7)
a *Tim to stop the car
– I want [Tim to stop the car]
b *Tim stopping the car – I watched [Tim stopping the car]
c *the car stolen
– I saw [the car stolen]
In embedded contexts, we see another difference between finite and non-finite
clauses in that a finite clause can act as the complement of the complementiser that,
while only infinitival clauses can act as the complement of the complementiser for:
(8)
a
b
c
d
e
… that [Karen could cook the dinner]
… that [Karen cooked the dinner]
*… that [Karen to cook the dinner]
*… that [Karen cooking the dinner]
*… that [the dinner eaten]
(9)
a
b
c
d
e
… for [Tracy to teach English]
*… for [Tracy teaching English]
*… for [English taught]
*… for [Tracy can teach English]
*… for [Tracy taught English]
These data not only suggest that there is a difference between finite and non-finite
clauses, but also that the infinitive and the participles have a different status, perhaps
indicating that while the infinitive has an IP status, the participles are really vPs. The
main point is, however, that different clauses distribute differently and this correlates
with which inflectional element they contain. All this adds up to the conclusion that
the inflection does behave like a head in that it projects its properties to the whole
construction and as we saw in chapter 2 it is heads that do this.
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Chapter 6 - Inflectional Phrases
So far we have taken the rather simple (perhaps simplistic) view that the VP is the
complement of the inflection because the VP follows it. Indeed, if we assume that the
VP is the complement of the inflection, this is exactly what we would expect to find as
in English all complements follow the head. So this assumption accounts for certain
word order facts of English that without it would simply have to be stipulated. Exactly
the same is true for the subject. If we assume that this is the specifier of the inflection
we account for why the subject precedes both the inflection and the VP, as this is
exactly the position in which we find English specifiers.
To see the advantage of this analysis, consider what happens if we do not assume
that the inflectional element is the head of the clause. English is often described as an
SVO language, based on a way of classifying languages in accordance with the
‘typical’ ordering of the major elements of the sentence (subject, verb and object).
Without X-bar theory and the notions of head, complement and specifier, however,
this is just a description of the facts which tells us nothing beyond what can already be
observed. Assuming X-bar theory we have a way of accounting for word order
patterns by using general statements about the relationships between elements in an Xbar structure and so this is a step in the right direction. However, if we do not assume
that the inflection is a head, it is not easy to think of how we can use X-bar
generalisations to account for the basic word order of English. This is especially so if
we take the traditional view that sentences are exocentric and therefore stand outside
of the set of facts that X-bar theory can account for. Only if we assume that sentences
are endocentric can X-bar generalisations be used to account for word order facts
concerning sentences.
Thus we seem to be inevitably drawn to the conclusion that sentences have heads
and that the elements of the sentence are organised in terms of X-bar relationships to
the head. The only question that remains is ‘what is the head of the clause?’ and there
seem to be very few options available. The only two real contenders are the inflection
and the verb and of these only the inflection really satisfies all the conditions with the
minimal number of assumptions.
More supporting evidence for the head status of the inflection comes from its
relationships to the other clausal elements. As a head we should expect the inflection
to impose restrictions on its complement and specifier positions. Of course, we would
not expect these to be based on -roles as the inflection is a functional element and
plays no role in -role assignment. Instead we would expect these restrictions to be
similar to those found within the DP discussed in chapter 3. Recall that determiners
always take NP complements and no other phrase can appear in this position. The
complement of an inflection is always a verbal phrase, be it vP or VP and again no
other phrase can appear in this position. We can make this more precise if we use
categorial features to describe the situation. The phrase that sits in the complement
position of the inflection must be headed by an element with the categorial features [(–
F), –N, +V], that is, by a non-functional verb including V and v. We can therefore
suggest a very restrictive template for the lexical entries of all inflections:
(10)
category: [+F, –N, +V]
subcat:
[(–F), –N, +V]
216
The structure of IP
Inflections also impose restrictions on their subjects. Again these restrictions are not
thematic in nature but similar to those imposed by determiners on their specifiers.
Recall that only a certain kind of determiner allows a specifier: the possessive
determiners. The possessive position is restricted to genitive elements, as shown below:
(11) a [DP his ∅ [NP car]]
b *[DP he ∅ [NP car]]
c *[DP him ∅ [NP car]]
Inflections similarly impose Case restrictions on their subjects. For example, when
there is a finite inflection, the subject is always nominative though this is not so with
non-finite clauses:
(12) a
b
c
d
e
… that he will hew the rock
… that he hewed the rock
… for him to hew the rock
… him hewing the rock
… him hewn
–
–
–
–
–
*… that him will hew the rock
*… that him hewed the rock
*… for he to hew the rock
*… he hewing the rock
*… he hewn
As we can see in (12) the subject of the non-finite clause appears in the accusative.
There is a further possibility with non-finite clauses which is not available with finite
clauses and that is to have a missing subject:
(13) a
b
c
d
e
Peter prefers [- to be dressed]
Lucy likes [- being dressed]
the artist painted the model [- dressed]
*they think that [- dressed the model]
*they hope that [- will dress the model]
We will discuss the nature of these restrictions in a later section. For now the
important observation is that the inflection imposes these restrictions and hence is
demonstrated to have head-like properties.
A final head-like property of the inflection can be seen in the following:
(14) a Larry dislikes citrus fruits
b we like∅ them
The form of the inflection in (14) depends on properties of the subject. This
phenomenon is known as agreement (see chapter 1). In English, agreement is very
restricted, visible only in the case of the present tense morpheme and the present and
past tense forms of be. We saw in chapter 4 that the possessive determiner also shows
a similar pattern, having one form for pronominal possessors and another for nonpronominal possessors:
(15) a [DP Carl ’s [NP car]]
b [DP his ∅ [NP car]]
For inflections what determines the agreement form of the inflection is the person
and number properties of the subject. With a third person and singular subject the
inflection is realised as (e)s and with any other subject it has a null realisation:
217
Chapter 6 - Inflectional Phrases
(16) a [IP Carl does [VP not have a car]]
b [IP we do∅ [VP not have a car]]
If we take agreement to be a relationship established between a head (perhaps
limited to functional ones) and its specifier, these observations again lead us to the
conclusion that the inflection is a head.
2
The syntax of inflection
Let us now focus attention on the inflectional element itself to see some of the
syntactic processes that concern it. Here we will be concerned with certain movement
phenomena involving the inflection and the process of auxiliary insertion discussed in
the last chapter.
When the inflection is represented by a free morpheme, such as a modal auxiliary
or the infinitival to, nothing much happens to it. As a free morpheme it can stand by
itself and hence we see it sitting in the head position:
(17) a
IP
DP
–
I'
I
vP
should DP
v'
Sam v
e
b
VP
DP
V'
Fiona
V
phone
IP
DP
I'
Sam2 I
vP
should DP
t2
v'
v
VP
phone1 v DP
e Fiona
V'
V
t1
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The syntax of inflection
(17) represents the D- and S-structures of the sentence Sam should phone Fiona. As
discussed in the previous chapter, the agent originates in the specifier of a light verb,
the position to which this -role is assigned. It moves to the specifier of the IP, a
process we will discuss in the next section. The verb heads the lower VP and moves to
support the light verb. The inflectional element is unaffected by any process. Exactly
the same is true for an infinitival clause:
(18) a
IP
DP
–
I'
I
to
vP
DP
v'
Sam v
e
VP
DP
V'
Fiona
V
phone
b
IP
DP
I'
Sam2 I
to
vP
DP
t2
v'
v
VP
phone1 v DP
e Fiona
V'
V
t1
Here (18) provides the D- and S-structures for the infinitival IP in a sentence like I
want [Sam to phone Fiona]. Again, the same movement processes are observable and
again none of these involves the inflection itself.
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Chapter 6 - Inflectional Phrases
2.1
Inserting auxiliaries into I
In the previous chapter, we introduced the idea that dummy auxiliaries are inserted
into a structure when the verb is unable to support a bound morpheme. Consider what
happens with regard to a bound inflectional element such as the present tense
morpheme s:
(19) a
IP
–
have
b
I'
IP
–
I'
I
vP
I
vP
-s
v'
-s
v'
v
VP
-en DP
he
be
V'
v
VP
-ing DP
V
she
arrive
‘he has arrived’
V'
V
PP
live in London
‘she is living in London’
In both of these examples, the verb moves from the V position to support the aspectual
morphemes. As a consequence of English stems being unable to support more than one
overt morpheme, the verb cannot move further. As the inflection is a bound morpheme
it needs supporting and in this case the auxiliaries are inserted directly into the
inflectional slot. Note that which auxiliary is used depends on the aspectual element
heading the vP complement of the inflectional element. A perfective aspectual
morpheme determines the supporting auxiliary to be have while the progressive
morpheme determines the supporting auxiliary to be be. With a slightly more complex
example, we see that this is a very general process:
220
The syntax of inflection
(20)
IP
–
I'
I
vP
-∅
v'
have
be
v
vP
-en
v'
v
VP
-ing DP
V'
they V
PP
stay with my parents
‘they have been staying with my parents’
In this case there are two aspectual morphemes as well as the inflection to be
supported. The verb moves to the lowest one and cannot move further. Therefore two
auxiliaries are inserted: be, determined by the progressive, is inserted onto the
perfective morpheme which takes the phrase headed by ing as its complement, and
have, determined by the perfective, is inserted onto the tense morpheme (in this case
null) which takes the phrase headed by the perfective morpheme as its complement.
2.2
Do-insertion
The use of have and be as supporting auxiliaries is therefore associated with the
appearance of the aspectual morphemes whose presence necessitates the use of the
auxiliary by ‘tying-up’ the verb so that it cannot support any other morpheme. The use
of the dummy auxiliary do however, is a little different as it is not associated with the
appearance of any aspectual morpheme and indeed cannot be used in the presence of
one:
(21) a he did not arrive
b he had not arrived
c *he did not have arrived
What determines the use of the auxiliary here? Obviously the verb is unable to
support the inflection in this case, but this does not seem to be because it already
supports another morpheme. In fact the verb is in its base form and there is no reason
to think that there is any other verbal morpheme present. (21a) is simply the negative
version of he arrived. Apparently it is the negative that blocks the verb from moving to
support the inflection. To gain some understanding of what is going on here we need
to briefly examine another kind of head movement which we will more thoroughly
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Chapter 6 - Inflectional Phrases
discuss in the next chapter. In the formation of certain questions an auxiliary verb is
moved to the other side of the subject:
(22) a Denise will dance
b Tim is tall
will Denise dance?
is Tim tall?
As we can see, both modal and aspectual auxiliaries can undergo this movement
process. The observation of interest to us is what happens when there are more than
one auxiliary:
(23) a Graham could be gardening
b could Graham be gardening?
c *be Graham could gardening?
Apparently, when there are more than one auxiliary, the first one is chosen to move.
The reason for this seems to be that moving the first auxiliary involves a shorter
movement than moving the second:
(24) a could1 Graham t1 be gardening?
b be1 Graham could t1 gardening?
Travis (1984) proposed that this phenomenon can be explained by a restriction on
head movement which prevents one head from moving over the top of another:
(25)
the Head Movement Constraint (HMC)
a head must move to the next head position
The reason why (23c) is ungrammatical, then, is that if the aspectual auxiliary moves
in front of the subject, it has to move over the modal. Whereas if the modal moves, it
crosses over no other head. Now consider the case of verb movement in the presence
of not:
(26) a he –ed ring the bell
= he rang the bell
b he –ed not ring the bell = *he rang not the bell
The movement represented in (26a) appears to be grammatical whereas that in (26b) is
ungrammatical. Again the difference between the two is that the grammatical
movement is shorter. But if we want to use the HMC to account for the phenomena, it
must be the case that the negative is a head as it is moving over this element that
causes the problem. But, what kind of a head is the negative? It is situated between the
inflectional element and the v/VP:
222
The syntax of inflection
(27)
IP
–
I'
I
XP
-ed
X'
X
VP
not DP
V'
the glass
V
shatter
We know that the inflectional element takes a v/VP complement and therefore that
the negative must be either V or v. As the complement of the negation is a v/VP it
follows that the negative must be v, a light verb, as main verbs do not have verbal
complements. Thus the analysis is:
(28)
IP
–
I'
I
vP
-ed
v'
v
VP
not DP
the glass
V'
V
shatter
Accepting this, we can account for the insertion of dummy do. The verb will not be
able to move to inflection without violating the HMC. Apparently in English, the
negative is not the sort of verbal element that can support tense and hence the only
option available is to insert an auxiliary. As there is no aspectual morpheme to deem
otherwise, the inserted auxiliary will be do:
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Chapter 6 - Inflectional Phrases
(29)
IP
DP
I'
the glass1 I
vP
-ed
v'
do
v
not
VP
DP
V'
t1
V
shatter
‘the glass did not shatter’
Note that the inability of the negative to support the inflections is a language
specific property and there are languages where this is exactly what happens. For
example, Finnish negation shows the same agreement morphemes as its verbs do and
in the presence of negation the verb does not inflect for agreement:
(30)
menen
go1.s.
menet
go2.s
menee
go3.s
menemme
go1.pl.
menette
go2.pl
menevät
go3.pl
– en
mene
not1.s. go
– et
mene
not2.s. go
– ei
mene
not3.s. go
– emme mene
not1.pl. go
– ette
mene
not2.pl. go
– eivät mene
not3.pl go
‘I go/I don’t go’
‘you go/you don’t go’
‘he/she goes/he/she doesn’t go’
‘we go/we don’t go’
‘you (lot) go/you (lot) don’t go’
‘they go/they don’t go’
Because of its behaviour, the Finnish negative element is often called the negative
auxiliary or even a negative verb. Moreover, in other languages the negative element
surfaces as a bound morpheme on the verb, a situation very similar to the analysis we
have given the aspectual markers in English. This is exemplified by the following
Choctaw and Japanese sentences:
(31)
ak-Ø-pi-so-tok
1s-3s-see-not-past
‘I didn’t see it’
(32)
watashi-wa yom-anakat-ta
I
read-not-past
‘I didn’t read’
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The syntax of inflection
Besides the bound morpheme status of the negative, these languages differ from
English in that verbal stems are allowed to support more than one bound morpheme
and hence there is agglutination: complex words being formed from a series of
inflectional morphemes. The point is that in these languages the negative element
behaves like we have seen certain English light verbs do and hence they offer support
for the suggestion that the negative can be analysed as a light verb.
Note that the presence of the negative will not affect the use of aspectual auxiliaries
as these are inserted into the inflection position rather than moving to it:
(33)
IP
DP
–
I'
I
vP
-s
v'
have
v
vP
not
v'
v
-en
VP
DP
V'
the glass
V
shatter
‘the glass has not shattered’
2.3
Tense and Agreement
From what has been said so far, we would expect that when there is no aspectual
morpheme to be supported and no negation, there will be no need to insert an auxiliary as
the main verb can move to support the inflection. Indeed this seems to be true as there is
no inserted auxiliary in such cases and the tense morpheme appears on the verb:
(34)
he arrive-ed
There is a problem however with the assumption that it is the verb that undergoes
the movement in this case. This can be seen clearly when there is a VP adjunct. In the
previous chapter, we argued that VP adverbs are adjoined to a v/VP higher than the
position to which the verb moves. However, in the absence of any aspectual
morphemes, it seems that the inflection appears on the verb inside the v/VP:
(35)
he [vP quickly [vP count-ed his fingers]]
Thus, under these conditions it does not seem that the verb moves to the inflection, but
rather that the inflection moves to the verb:
225
Chapter 6 - Inflectional Phrases
(36)
IP
DP
–
I'
I
-ed
vP
AP
vP
quickly DP
v'
he
v
VP
e
DP
V'
his fingers
V
count
‘he quickly counted his fingers’
This analysis suggests that elements can move around in a structure quite freely
and in particular both upward and downward movements are possible. But all the
movements we have seen so far have been in an upward direction, including all the
verb movements and the movement of the subject out of its original VP-internal
position. It is possible that this might just be a bias of the small number of movement
processes we happen to have reviewed so far. But it turns out, once one starts to
investigate movements on a greater scale that the vast majority of them have an
upward orientation, which might lead us to the conclusion that perhaps it is our
analysis of the small number of apparent cases of downward movements that is at
fault. One reason to believe that downward movements are not possible is that it is
ungrammatical for certain things to move downwards, which is difficult to explain if
such movements are allowable. For example, the verb always moves to the light verb
positions and light verbs never move to the verb:
(37) a [vP he –v [VP the ball hit]]
he hit1 the ball t1
b [vP he –v [VP the ball hit]]
*he t1the ball hit1
If downward movements are a possible grammatical process, we have no explanation
for why (37b) is ungrammatical in English and can only resort to stipulation that
English verbs move upwards in this case. For such reasons, during the 1990s the idea
of downward movement was abandoned and all seemingly downward movements
were reanalysed as involving upward movements instead.
A further problem with the analysis in (36) is the explanation of why the verb
cannot move to the I position. We have seen that verbs are perfectly capable of
moving, so why this is not possible to the inflection position is quite mysterious.
Some, who accepted the ‘I-lowering’ (affix lowering) analysis, have suggested that the
226
The syntax of inflection
verb cannot escape the VP because of its -assigning properties, pointing to the fact
that aspectual auxiliaries and copular be, which do not assign -roles, can appear in I
(Pollock 1989).
But from our perspective, these elements appear in I by being inserted there and do
not undergo movement at all and so there may be other reasons for the fact that they
behave differently to main verbs. It is also not entirely clear why the verb can move
within the vP, sometimes through as many as three light verb positions and not have
any trouble with its -assigning properties. Something rather stipulative and
ultimately circular has to be claimed to try to account for this fact. For example, we
might assume that the inflection has some property, which light verbs lack, that means
that if a thematic verb moves to I it cannot assign its -roles. Often it is claimed that
the inflection is ‘too weak’ to support the verb’s -assigning requirements. But the
weakness of an element only correlates with the ability of the verb to move to that
element, which is the very reason for proposing the notion in the first place!
Before trying to solve these puzzles, one more mystery should be introduced. Our
assumptions have been that auxiliaries are inserted into a structure to support bound
morphemes when the verb is unable for one reason or another to do so. Obviously a
free morpheme does not need supporting either by the verb or an auxiliary. This would
predict that when the inflection appears as a free morpheme, i.e. a tense or the
infinitival marker, there will be no need for an inserted auxiliary to accompany an
aspectual morpheme. But this prediction seems to be false:
(38) a he will have gone
b she might be worrying
c for you to be seen here would be disastrous
The obvious question is what are these auxiliaries supporting? Note that any element
that appears after a free inflectional element is always in its base form. Thus, either the
auxiliaries are supporting nothing, which throws doubt on their treatment as inserted
empty elements, or they are supporting a null morpheme. The latter assumption allows
us to maintain our approach but it raises the subsequent question of what this
morpheme is.
The facts concerning this morpheme are that it is only present when there is a free
inflectional element and the morpheme always follows the inflection.
(39) a
b
c
d
he will leave-∅
they must have-∅ left
we might be-∅ leaving
to be-∅ seen
When there is a bound inflectional element, i.e. a tense morpheme, the null morpheme
is not present:
(40) a *we did have-∅ gone
b *they did be-∅ going
c *I did leave-∅
we had gone
they were going
I left
227
Chapter 6 - Inflectional Phrases
(40c) is of course grammatical, but only with special stress on did and used to assert
something that has previously been denied. Thus, it does not mean the same thing as I
left and in fact cannot be used to mean this.
These observations show that this zero morpheme is in complementary distribution
with tense and thus the straightforward conclusion is that it IS tense. But how can this
be if tense is an inflectional element and the zero morpheme is not in complementary
distribution with modal auxiliaries, which are also inflectional elements? What the
data show is that it is not modals that tense is in complementary distribution with, but
the zero tense morpheme that accompanies the modal and hence the conclusion is that
if modals are of the category ‘inflection’, then tense is not of this category. Given that
tense is situated in front of the VP, we can assume that it is a head that selects a verbal
complement and given that it follows the inflectional elements (i.e. modals) it must
project a verbal phrase. In other words, tense is yet another light verb:
(41)
IP
DP
I'
I
vP
modal
v'
v
tense DP
VP
V'
V
This analysis raises the question of what category ‘inflection’ is if it excludes the tense
morpheme, and specifically what occupies this position when there is no modal? To
answer this, consider the properties of modal auxiliaries. It is a traditional idea that
they are not actually in complementary distribution with tense, as in some sense they
display a kind of tense inflection:
(42)
may
can
shall
will
(must)
might
could
should
would
Virtually all modals come in pairs, which might be claimed to represent a distinction
between past and present. The use of these forms supports this view:
(43) a I think I am going
b I thought I was going
c *I thought I am going
228
The syntax of inflection
(44) a I think I can go
b I thought I could go
c *I thought I can go
Although I am very much simplifying things here, we can see in (43) that there is some
requirement that embedded clauses have a matching tense specification to the main
clause and hence the ungrammaticality when the main clause is in the past tense and
the embedded clause is in the present. (44) demonstrates something very similar
happens with certain modals and hence that modals seem to be specified for tense (or
at least they are not themselves in complementary distribution with a tense
specification wherever in the clause that specification is made). However, what modals
are in complementary distribution with is agreement: modals do not have forms that
are dependent on the properties of the subject:
(45) a he/she/I/you/we/etc. may/will/would/can/etc.
b *he/she wills/cans/woulds/etc.
Perhaps, then, what ‘inflection’ is, is agreement and this is expressed either as a
morpheme dependent on properties of the subject, or a modal. Of course in English the
visible tense and agreement morphemes are expressed as a single form, s. But in many
languages tense and agreement are expressed as separate morphemes, as they are in
Hungarian:
(46)
elmen-t-em
elmen-t-él
elmen-t-∅
elmen-t-ünk
elmen-t-etek
elmen-t-ek
I left
you left
he/she left
we left
you (lot) left
they left
In this paradigm, the past tense is represented uniformly as an independent morpheme
t and the agreement morphemes differ depending on the person and number of the
subject.
The inflectional head has a very important role in determining the nature of the
following tense head. As we have seen, modals determine that tense will appear as a
null morpheme, but note that its content, i.e. past or present, can be recovered from the
modal itself, which inflects for tense. When the inflectional element is a null
agreement morpheme, the form of the tense will be partly determined by the
agreement morpheme and partly by the tense itself. So if the tense is past then it will
be realised as ed (or one of its irregular forms) no matter what the agreement is. But if
the tense is present, it will be realised as s when the agreement is third person and
singular and as a zero morpheme when the agreement is something else:
(47) a [IP - can [vP - ∅ …]]
b [IP - ∅3.s. [vP - -s/-ed …]]
c [IP - ∅~3.s. [vP - ∅/-ed …]]
We have not yet mentioned the infinitival marker to. What is its status? Is it a nonfinite agreement morpheme, similar to a modal, or is it a non-finite tense morpheme
229
Chapter 6 - Inflectional Phrases
that is accompanied by null agreement? For now I will assume that it is a tense
element and demonstrate later that this seems to be correct.
2.4
Movement to tense and I
Having separated tense and agreement (=inflection), let us consider their properties
separately. Tense is obviously a bound morpheme triggering movement of the verb or
insertion of an auxiliary when the verb is unable to move. But what about the null
agreement morpheme, is this a bound morpheme or not? If it is, it will need supporting
and we would expect verbs and auxiliaries to appear as high as the I node as we do not
want to claim that the inflection lowers onto the tense. On the other hand, agreement
might be like the modals and be a free morpheme, in which case we would expect
nothing to move to I. The data are complex and often depend on other assumptions as
to how to interpret them. Basically there appears to be a difference in how verbs and
auxiliaries behave. Auxiliaries appear to be able to achieve a higher position than the
main verb, indicating that while the verb can move to tense it cannot move to I,
whereas auxiliaries can be in I.
As we have seen, adverbs and the negative head can appear in a number of
positions within the v/VP, with adverbs being able to adjoin to most phrases above the
verb and negation taking most phrases above the verb as its complement:
(48) a will (quickly) have (quickly) been (quickly) being (quickly) hidden
b will (not) have (not) been (not) being (not) cooked
Both negation and VP adverbs can also precede the non-finite marker, indicating that
this is a tense element that stays inside the vP:
(49) a for him quickly to have left was a relief
b for him not to have said anything was strange
However, neither VP adverbs nor negation can precede modals:
(50) a *quickly will leave
b *not will leave
And neither of them can appear adjoined to a phrase that the verb has moved out from:
(51) a *he will have seen1 quickly [VP the papers t1]
b *he will have seen1 not [VP the papers t1]
It thus seems that these elements appear anywhere inside the vP as long as they are
below the I and above the surface position of the verb.
Now, when there is no modal, an auxiliary inserted to bear tense behaves as though
it is in I as no adverb or negation can precede it:
(52) a I have quickly marked the essays – *I quickly have marked the essays
b I have not graded the papers
– *I not have graded the papers
This supports the assumption that the inflection is a bound morpheme that needs
supporting by a verbal element. With main verbs, however, we find that the tensed
verb appears below the adverb and the verb cannot support tense in the presence of
negation:
230
The syntax of inflection
(53) a I quickly assessed the students
b I did not fail his paper
– *I assessed quickly the students
– *I failed not his paper
We already have an account for the behaviour of the main verb in the presence of the
negative. The negative is a head that blocks the movement of the verb over it. If
negation is situated below the I position, then the verb will not be able to move to
support the inflection and hence do-support is necessary, as demonstrated in (53b).
This will not affect the process of auxiliary insertion however, as this does not involve
movement. Yet, an inserted auxiliary bears both tense and agreement and so it seems
to be inserted into tense and moved to I, suggesting that the position of the negation is
lower than the tensed element, contradicting (49b) where negation is above the nonfinite tense. It seems then that negation must be below a finite tense, but above the
verb.
The only real problem we face is accounting for the grammaticality of (53a), where
the adverb appears in front of the tensed verb. It is this observation which has lead
people to the assumption that the inflection must lower to the verb or that the analysis
must be more abstract to account for what looks like a downward movement in terms
of an upward one.
However, these approaches are based on the assumption that the position of the
adverb is rigidly fixed and so if the verb follows the adverb it must be inside the vP.
But we have seen that adverbial placement is not so rigid, although it is subject to
some restrictions. It would seem to me to be more straightforward to assume that in the
case of a finite main verb, the verb does occupy the inflection position and what needs
accounting for is the position of the adverb.
Suppose that, like the negative element, the adverb likes to follow the finite tense
and precede the verb. However, unlike the negative it is not rigid about this.
Specifically, when the verb and the inflection are in one place, it is impossible for the
adverb to be between them. Thus a choice must be made: put the adverb above the
tense, or put it below the verb. It seems that the restriction on adverbs preceding verbs
is the stronger, so the adverb will be adjoined higher than the I position. The position it
is actually adjoined to is the I'
, which we will see is a position where the sentential
adverb may appear:
(54)
IP
DP
they
I'
AP
I'
fervently
I
vP
believed1-∅
v'
v
VP
t1
everything I said t1
231
Chapter 6 - Inflectional Phrases
As we mentioned previously, the negative element is not so accommodating and it
refuses to give up its place below the finite inflection and above the verb. Thus in this
case the verb cannot support the inflection and the dummy auxiliary has to be inserted:
(55)
IP
DP
he
I'
I
vP
-∅
v'
v
vP
v'
do
v
VP
not
borrow the book
The final structure of the clause we end up with is as follows:
(56)
IP
–
I'
I
vP
mod/agr
v'
v
tense
v/VP
(negation) (aspect) (light verbs) V
In what follows, we may sometimes for convenience abbreviate this to:
(57)
IP
–
I'
I
VP
However, the more articulated structure in (56) will be assumed to be correct and
indeed will be essential for accounting for certain phenomena which will be introduced
in the next chapter.
232
Movement to Spec IP
3
Movement to Spec IP
Up to this point we have been assuming that the subject of the clause originates fairly
low in the clause, inside the VP or a vP just above it. We have said this DP will move
from its original position to the specifier of IP to get Case and thus avoid a Case Filter
violation which would render the sentence ungrammatical. Two aspects of this
analysis are in need of elaboration. First it must be accounted for that the subject’s
original position is a Caseless one and second it must be established exactly where in
the complex clause structure we have been arguing for the subject moves to and why
this is a Case position.
Let us start with the case of a simple transitive verb so that we can compare the
situation of the subject and object:
(58)
IP
–
I'
I
vP
will
v'
v
∅
vP
DP
v'
Boris v
e
VP
DP
V'
Ivan
V
beat
We have said that the light verb which is responsible for assigning the -role to the
subject is responsible for assigning Case to the object. This seems to be the locus of
Burzio’s generalisation that verbs which assign a subject -role assign an accusative
Case. Hence the object is in a Case marked position and need not move away in order
to get Case. Consider the subject: why is it not in a Case position? Note that the verbal
element above the subject, the tense in this case, does not assign any -roles and hence
its specifier position is empty at D-structure. Clearly this is unlike the light verb. We
may propose therefore that tense is not an accusative Case assigning head. But why
doesn’t the light verb assign Case to its subject? One might attempt to answer this by
claiming that the light verb has to assign Case to the object and assuming that
accusative Case can only be assigned to one place. While this seems reasonable, it
doesn’t explain why the light verb taking an intransitive verb does not assign Case to
its subject:
233
Chapter 6 - Inflectional Phrases
(59)
IP
–
I'
I
vP
will
v'
v
∅
vP
DP
v'
Boris v
e
VP
V'
V
laugh
In this case, the light verb assigns agent -role to its specifier and so should be capable
of assigning Case and in fact the possible appearance of a cognate object seems to
confirm this assumption. But when there is no object, the subject still undergoes the
movement, suggesting that it does not get Case from the light verb.
There are a number of possible ways to account for these observations. The
simplest is to assume that Case assignment is directional and that accusative Case in
English is assigned to the right. Thus, the light verb will be able to assign Case to the
object as the object appears to the right. However the light verb will not be able to
assign Case to the subject as the subject is in the specifier position and specifiers are to
the left of the head.
This is too simple, however, as it is not the case that a light verb can assign Case to
any element on its right. Consider a more complicated case in which we have a verb
with a clausal complement. The light verb of this verb will be to the left of the
complement clause and hence to the left of the subject of that clause. But it cannot
assign accusative Case to this subject, allowing it to stay inside its own subject
position:
234
Movement to Spec IP
(60)
vP
DP
they
v'
v
VP
e
IP
–
V'
I'
V
I
vP
will
Larry leave
think
(61) a *they think1-e [VP [IP - will Larry leave] t1]
b they think1-e [VP [IP Larry2 will t2 leave] t1]
The word order within the embedded clause shows that the subject does not get
Case in its original position and that like any other subject, it has to move to get Case
in the subject position of the IP. Considering where a light verb can assign Case to, i.e.
the specifier of its own VP complement, and where it cannot assign Case to, i.e. the
specifier of a VP inside another clause, it is obvious that there is some locality
restriction on Case assignment in addition to the directional one. We are not yet in a
position to be able to determine the exact nature of this locality condition and so for
now we will just assume that a light verb can only Case mark elements within its own
clause.
Having put this in place, we can see that the subject will not be able to be case
marked in its original position as it is on the wrong side of the local light verb and too
far from any other light verb that might have a Case to assign.
Let us now turn to the landing site of the movement. The subject moves to a
position to the left of a modal and so the obvious place to assume as its landing site is
the specifier of IP:
(62)
IP
DP1
I'
I
vP
will
t1
This must be a Case position as the sentence is grammatical with the subject sitting in
it and therefore the Case Filter must be satisfied. If we assume that it is the inflection
which is responsible for assigning the Case we account for why this is the landing site
for this movement. Moreover, we also account for the difference between the subjects
of finite and infinite clauses. Recall that while the subject of the finite clause has
nominative Case, the typical Case for the subject of the non-finite clause is accusative:
235
Chapter 6 - Inflectional Phrases
(63) a she can sing
b for him to dance
Presumably the agreement element is different in both these cases. For one thing,
modal auxiliaries can appear in the agreement position of finite clauses, but not of nonfinite clauses. Moreover, finite inflection selects for a finite tense headed phrase as its
complement while the one in (63b) clearly selects for a non-finite complement. I will
not have anything to say about the accusative Case of the subject of the non-finite
clause at present, leaving this for future discussion. Instead, we will concentrate on the
finite inflection, which assigns nominative to the subject.
The Case assigned by the finite agreement element is very different from that
assigned to the object. Obviously the former is a nominative Case while the latter is
accusative, but the differences extend further than this. For one thing assuming that it
is the agreement element which is responsible for nominative Case, this Case must be
assigned in a leftward direction:
(64)
IP
DP
I'
nominative
I
vP
will
Furthermore, this case is assigned by a functional element, something that is not
involved in -role assignment. For accusative Case the Case assigner necessarily marks its subject in order to be able to assign accusative Case. But the same is not true
for the inflectional assigner of nominative Case.
There are two basic positions linguists take with respect to these observations. One
is to assume that nominative and accusative Case are similar and the other assumes
that they are fundamentally different. From the first perspective the challenge is to
come up with restrictions which define the conditions under which Case can be
assigned generally. For example, there are three positions to which we have seen a
Case assigned: the specifier of the inflection; the specifier of the complement, and the
complement position itself:
(65)
IP
DP
vP
I'
I
PP
v'
vP
P'
v
VP
DP
P
DP
V'
The unified relationship that linguists came up with to capture these three cases of
Case assignment was called government. Informally this may be stated as:
236
Movement to Spec IP
(66)
an element governs everything within its own phrase, but not past a certain
point
The point of the ‘but’ clause in this definition is to impose locality on government. If a
head governs everything inside its phrase, then it can govern quite a long way if its
phrase happens to be a long one. Yet government is clearly a local relationship if it is
restricted to the situations in (65) and there seems to be a point beyond which
government cannot hold. How this point is identified and defined is a matter for
discussion, with a number of positions possible. But one thing we can conclude at this
point is that VP cannot be something that blocks government, otherwise the light verb
would not be able to Case-mark the object in the specifier of VP.
The other point of view observes that it does not seem to be mere coincidence that
the two instances of rightward Case assignment in (65) happen to involve accusative
Case while the leftward Case assignment involves nominative. The assumption is then
that there are two different processes at work here. For nominative the relevant
relationship is supposed to be specifier–head agreement, something we mentioned in
the previous chapter. The idea is that the finite inflectional element can assign
nominative Case to whatever it agrees with, and this will be its specifier. For
accusative Case however, government is the relevant relationship, though defined in a
slightly different way as it is no longer required to extend to the subject. Informally,
this version of government can be defined as:
(67)
a head governs its sister and everything inside its sister, up to a point.
Again, the ‘point’ imposes locality restrictions on the government relationships. From
the present perspective there is very little between the two views that allow us to
favour one or the other and therefore we will leave the matter unresolved at this point.
237
Chapter 6 - Inflectional Phrases
4
Adjunction within IP
In the last section of this chapter we will briefly consider adjunction within the clause.
We have seen in the last chapter that adverbs come in at least two types: sentential
adverbs and VP adverbs. The two can be distinguished by what they modify and also
in terms of where they attach to a structure.
Sentential modifiers are normally considered to have the whole sentence as their
domain of modification, i.e. they add an extra meaning to the sentence as a whole:
(68) a she will certainly be offended
b it will probably never happen
c I had luckily saved the envelope
Note that the most natural position for these adverbs is after the modal but before the
rest of the sentence, suggesting that it adjoins to the phrase headed by tense:
(69)
IP
DP
I'
I
vP
AP
vP
v'
v
vP
We do however find them following the subject but before the inflection:
(70) a he naturally could cook
b they hopefully might know the way
c I regrettably have forgotten your name
The only place that an adverb would be able to attach to, to come between a head and
its specifier, is the X'
. So unless we assume either that subjects are not necessarily in
the specifier of the inflection or that the modals are not necessarily in the inflection
position itself, it seems that we must also allow adjuncts to adjoin to the I'
:
238
Conclusion
(71)
IP
DP
I'
AP
I'
I
vP
v'
v
vP
Note that both of these positions are higher than those favoured by the VP adverbs and
hence if we have a sentential adverb and a VP adverb, we predict that the sentential
adverb will precede, which seems to hold true:
(72) a I can fortunately quickly send you the money
b *I can quickly fortunately send you the money
5
Conclusion
In this chapter we have discussed the basic architecture of the clause, claiming that this
is headed by the inflectional element. This analysis provides positions for both the
subject and the VP as well as the inflectional element itself. However, there are aspects
of the syntax of the clause that we have not yet touched upon. We have yet to discuss
the position of the complementiser, for example. Furthermore, there are types of
clauses that we have not discussed: interrogatives, for example. These will be
discussed in the next chapters.
Check Questions
1
How can finite and non-finite clauses be distinguished?
2
What evidence is available to assume that clauses are not exocentric
constructions, rather, they are headed by the element I?
3
How is the process of attaching bound morpheme inflection heads to their
stems analysed?
4
What is the analysis of negation and do-support?
5
What is the position associated with aspect markers and aspectual auxiliaries?
6
How is the conceptualisation of the content of Inflection altered in the text?
7
What is the distribution of negation and VP adverbs relative to each other?
8
What is the difference between light verb vP and tense vP?
9
How is Case assignment conceptualised?
10
What is the position of sentence adverbs versus VP adverbs?
239
Chapter 6 - Inflectional Phrases
Test your knowledge
Exercise 1
Consider the examples below. How do the DPs acquire case?
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
John met Mary in the park.
For me to survive this week will be quite difficult.
Everybody goes to see the painting.
John persuaded Bill to go to see a doctor.
Mary gave a book to John for Xmas.
Exercise 2
Determine the function of do in the following sentences.
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
g
h
i
j
k
l
How do you do?
He did know the answer although he claimed he did not know it.
She does a lot for her parents.
He did not tell the truth, did he?
When does he get up?
I did read this book.
They do not go to work today.
You sleep too much, don’t you?
I have quite a lot of things to do.
This exercise is almost done now.
What are you doing now?
I do not know anything.
Exercise 3
Identify the DPs in the following sentences and state which Case is assigned to them
by which items.
(1)
a Jim sent a bunch of flowers to Jane.
b For Jim not to buy the house at a lower price wasn’t the best decision in his
life.
c The teacher believed that all his students would pass the exam.
d All the students were believed to pass the exam.
e John will never trust Jane.
f Which experiment did the professor mean when he asked whether we were
able to do it?
g John read an interesting book about the cold war.
h It was raining when I looked out of the window.
i The children wanted it to be snowing during the whole day.
j Jane believed Jack to be able to repair the car.
240
Test your knowledge
Exercise 4
Give the X-bar structure of the following sentences and explain how the DPs receive
thematic roles and Case.
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
g
h
i
j
k
l
m
n
John’s message arrived.
David made the ball roll to the wall.
David rolled the ball to the wall.
John sank Jim’s boat.
Jim’s boat sank.
Jim’s boat was sunk.
Bill caught a bird.
The bird was caught.
Sam coughed.
John sent a message to Mary.
Mary was sent a message.
Jim took his shoes off.
Jim took off his shoes.
John thinks that Jim knows that Mary gave his book to Jane.
241
Chapter 7
Complementiser Phrases
In this chapter we continue to present the parts of the English clause, extending it
further upwards. So far we have seen that the clause has a number of layers to it,
relating to certain syntactic and semantic properties. The lower layer consists of the
thematic part of the VP, including the -assigning light verbs, which concern
argument and event structure. Above this we have the non-thematic part of the verb
phrase where the morphemes of aspect and tense are introduced. Finally above this we
have the IP in which agreement and modal auxiliaries are situated. The IP also
provides the surface Case position for the grammatical subject.
Above the IP the structure of the clause continues and in particular the
complementisers, which a large part of this chapter will be about, are found to reside.
We will see that this part of the clause structure also has its semantic impact on the
interpretation of the whole sentence, mainly in terms of the notions of declarative and
interrogative, i.e. whether the sentence is supposed to be making a statement or
asking a question. This aspect of meaning has been referred to as the Force of the
sentence.
As with the previous chapter, we start with a general discussion of the general
organisation of the super-IP structure. We then turn to look at complementisers
themselves and the part they play in certain syntactic processes. We will look at the
specifier of the complementiser and its use in various English constructions and finally
turn to phenomena that suggest the existence of a certain degree of structure between
the complementiser and the IP.
1
The structure of CP
In embedded contexts we often find that clauses are introduced by a small set of words
known as complementisers:
(1)
a Knut knows that [water is wet]
b for [Stan to save the world], he needs a red cape
c I don’t remember if [I told you about my mother]
These words form a constituent with the following IP, but are not part of its structure.
So, the clause can be moved along with its complementiser, the clause and its
complementiser can be replaced by a pronoun and the clause and its complementiser
can be coordinated with another such string:
(2)
a that water is wet, Knut now knows
b they told me that Stan saved the world, but I don’t believe it
c I thought that your mother was a racing driver and that she won the Grand
Prix
Chapter 7 - Complementiser Phrases
In (2a) the clausal complement of the verb know has obviously moved from its normal
complement position behind the verb to a position at the front of the sentence. As the
complementiser still precedes this clause, it can be assumed to form a constituent with
it. In (2b) the pronoun it is used to replace the clause that Stan saved the world. As this
includes both the complementiser and the IP, we conclude that these must form a
constituent. Finally, in (2c) two clauses are coordinated. That both clauses begin with a
complementiser demonstrates that the complementiser forms a constituent with the
following IP.
That the complementiser is not inside the IP itself can be demonstrated by the fact
that it is possible to pronominalise the IP without the complementiser and we can
coordinate two IPs separate from the complementiser:
(3)
a we expect there to be trouble, but we are not hoping for it
b I wondered if there would be trouble and I could be involved
The first case in (3) is fairly straightforward. The it replaces the non-finite clause there
to be trouble and given that the complementiser precedes the it the pronoun replaces
just the IP. The second case needs a little explanation. What is coordinated here are the
two IPs there would be trouble and I could be involved. In some clauses the
complementiser does not have to appear overtly, however:
(4)
I think (that) his eyes were blue
One possible analysis, which we will argue in favour of a little later, is that when
there is no overt complementiser, there is an phonologically empty complementiser.
This possibility then raises the question of what is being coordinated in (2b): is it just
the IP, as we claimed, or an IP with an empty complementiser?:
(5)
a if [there would be trouble] and [I could be involved]
b [if there would be trouble] and [e I could be involved]
In the second case, the data obviously do not support the claim that the IP can be
coordinated without the complementiser as both sides of the coordination contain
complementisers. However, (5b) cannot be the correct analysis as the only
complementiser that is allowed to be empty in this kind of situation is that and if
cannot be omitted:
(6)
a I think (that) his eyes were blue
b I wondered *(if) his eyes were blue
Thus, (5b) would only be possible if the empty complementiser were a version of that.
But this is not possible as, in this case, a clause beginning with if cannot coordinate
with a clause beginning with that:
(7)
*I wondered [if there would be trouble] and [that I could be involved]
Thus, the only viable analysis is (5a).
The final outcome of this discussion, then, is that the structure of the clause is:
(8)
XP
C
IP
244
The structure of CP
As the complementiser is a word and the IP is a phrase, we immediately see a potential
head–complement relationship between them and if we apply X-bar principles to this
situation the structure we expect is:
(9)
CP
C'
C
IP
If this is so, we expect the complementiser would demonstrate certain head-like
properties and it is fairly easy to show that it does. For example, compare the
following sentences:
(10) a I wonder [if Charles likes chocolate]
b I think [that Charles likes chocolate]
The embedded clause in (10a) is interrogative as it can act as the complement of the
verb wonder and this subcategorises for interrogative complements. The clause in
(10b) is declarative as it can act as the complement of the verb think which
subcategorises for declarative clauses. But the only difference between the two clauses
lies with the complementisers. The IP in both cases is identical. This would suggest
that the interrogative/declarative nature of the clause is fixed by the complementiser
and not by anything inside the IP. In other words, it is the complementiser that
provides the force of the sentence. As it is heads that provide the properties of the
structures they head, this demonstrates that complementisers do have a head-like status
within the clause.
Another claim made in (9) is that the IP is the complement of the complementiser.
Can this be substantiated? One obvious relevant observation is that the IP follows the
complementiser and as we know complements follow heads in English. Thus the claim
that the complementiser is the head and the IP its complement accounts for this fact
about English word order without resorting to stipulation. Furthermore, we have seen
that functional heads such as determiners and inflections have a very limited range of
possible complements: determiners always have NP complements and inflections
always have v/VP complements. The element which follows a complementiser is
always an IP and so this fits the pattern very well. Finally, note that different
complementisers introduce different IPs. If and that both introduce finite IPs, while for
introduces a non-finite IP. As heads select for their complements, this is again an
indication that the complementisers are heads selecting for different types of IP
complements. This is very similar to plural determiners selecting for plural NP
complements and singular determiners selecting for singular ones.
In what follows, we will be assuming the structure in (9) as essentially correct,
though we will see that some extension will be needed for elements that appear
between the complementiser and the IP. We will start by discussing facts that do not
concern these elements however, and so for the time being (9) provides us with an
adequate model of the top part of the English clause.
245
Chapter 7 - Complementiser Phrases
2
The Clause as CP
Not all clauses are introduced by a complementiser. For example, subordinate
declarative finite clauses may or may not be introduced by that and main clauses never
have complementisers:
(11) a she said [(that) we should make the sandwiches]
b (*that) we should make the sandwiches
What is the status of the clause when there is no complementiser? One possibility is
that when there is no complementiser there is no CP and hence a clause without a
complementiser has the status of an IP. For embedded clauses this is a problematic
conclusion as it means that the verbs which select for such clauses must be able to take
IP or CP complements. In other words, they subcategorise for a complement with the
features [+F, –N]. But if this is so, we would predict that there should be verbs that
select for only CP complements, i.e. complements with [+F, –N, –V] features, and
those that select for only IP complements, with [+F, –N, +V] features.
But while there are many verbs which take clausal complements both with or
without a complementiser, it is doubtful whether the other predicted verb types exist. It
seems that we have to accept a generalisation that if a verb selects for a declarative
finite IP complement, it also selects for a declarative finite CP complement. It is not
easy to think how we can explain this generalisation when stated in this way. There is
another possible view, however. This sees all these complements as being CPs, but
sometimes the complementiser is filled with an overt that and sometimes it is filled by
an unpronounced complementiser:
(12) a she said [CP that she wanted ham and pickle]
b she said [CP ∅ she wanted ham and pickle]
The generalisation is now that all verbs which select for a finite declarative
complement select for a CP. This is fairly easy to capture in terms of the notion of
canonical structural realisation principles. The idea behind this is quite simple.
Basically, certain arguments are canonically realised by certain categories. For
example, themes are typically realised as DPs and locations as PPs. This is their
‘canonical realisation’. It may be that a certain degree of non-canonical realisation of
arguments is possible, for example the nominal home can realise a goal argument
usually realised by a PP:
(13)
he went [PP to London]/[DP home]
All we need to say is that something with a propositional meaning is canonically
realised as a CP and then it follows that if a verb takes a propositional complement,
this will be realised as a CP. It follows from this that all finite declarative complement
clauses will be CPs and hence that we must assume that sometimes the
complementiser can be abstract, as in (12b). Non-finite complement clauses differ
from this pattern quite substantially. Certain verbs take non-finite complements with
an obligatory complementiser:
(14) a we were hoping [for the good weather to arrive soon]
b *we were hoping [the good weather to arrive soon]
246
The Clause as CP
Verbs such as wish, prey, plead, demand, indicate, signal, etc. all seem to behave in
this way. Obviously, for these verbs there is no question that they take CP
complements.
Others take non-finite clause complements that never have a complementiser:
(15) a I tried [ - to spread the butter]
b *I tried [for - to spread the butter]
Verbs such as attempt, have (= be obliged), promise, wish, prey, plead, demand, etc.
all behave like this.
Note that some of these verbs are in the other category as well. However there is a
difference, verbs in the try category take non-finite complements with missing subjects
and those in the hope category take non-finite complements with overt subjects. Thus
there seems to be a correlation between when the complement clause has an overt
subject and when it has an overt complementiser. We will go into this in more detail in
the next chapter, but it can be argued that clauses with covert subjects must be CPs
with a covert complementiser position:
(16)
I attempted [CP ∅ - to cut the tomatoes]
One class of verb takes a non-finite clause complement that has an overt subject:
(17)
he believes [Troy to be trouble]
In the next chapter we will argue that these are exceptional verbs and do not behave
like the others in that they take IP non-finite complements. Exceptions aside however,
the conclusion is that the majority of non-finite complement clauses seem to be, like
the finite ones, CPs. Hence a general conclusion seems to be that complement clauses
are always CPs.
This leaves main clauses. As pointed out in (11b), these never have overt
complementisers. However, given that covert complementisers seem to be a possibility
it is reasonable to ask whether main clauses are CPs which have an obligatory covert
complementiser, or whether they are just IPs with no space for a complementiser. The
issue is complicated unfortunately. On the one hand, there are some main clauses that
have to be argued to be CPs, as we shall see a little later. Thus, on general grounds it
seems reasonable to assume that all clauses are CPs. Moreover, if the role of the
complementiser is to indicate the force of a sentence, and main clauses without
complementisers have a force interpretation, then it might be argued that there must be
a complementiser to provide this aspect of clausal semantics. On the other hand, most
linguists accept that ‘exceptional clauses’ lack complementisers and these also have a
force interpretation and so it seems that there is a way for this to be introduced in the
absence of a complementiser, which undermines the argument that main clauses must
have complementisers because they have a force interpretation.
If we assume that main clauses are CPs we need an explanation as to why their
complementisers are obligatorily covert. But if we assume that main clauses are
merely IPs, we must account for why the CP is obligatorily banned. All in all then, it is
hard to decide on the issue. In this book, we will take the fairly standard view that all
clauses are CP (except for the exceptions) and hence we assume that main clauses
have obligatorily covert complementisers by a general principle.
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3
Interrogative CPs
3.1
Basic positions within the CP
So far we have looked mainly at declarative CPs. In this section we will turn our
attention to interrogatives. There are a number of different types of interrogatives and
most of them seem to make use of the CP in one way or another. The two most
obvious ones are wh-questions and yes–no questions.
A wh-question is formed with the use of an interrogative pronoun, usually called a
wh-element as in English they mostly begin with the letters ‘wh’, as in who, why,
which, what, where, etc. How is an exception to this spelling convention, though from
a linguistic point of view, the spelling is uninteresting and it is syntactic and semantic
behaviour that are more important. From these points of view, how is just like the other
‘wh’-elements. In a wh-interrogative, the sentence begins with the wh-element:
(18) a who said that?
b what did you say?
c why do you say that?
Apart from (18a) where the wh-element replaces the subject, all other instances of whquestions involve the wh-element being in front of the subject. Given that the subject’s
surface position is the specifier of the IP, this indicates that the wh-element sits in a
position outside the IP. Above the IP is the CP, so we may assume that the wh-element
is situated in the CP. As wh-elements are phrases, probably DPs, though some of them
have underlying distributions similar to PPs and therefore are either PPs or perhaps
DPs non-canonically realising the prepositional role, they must occupy a phrasal
position in the CP and the most obvious choice would be the specifier of the CP:
(19)
CP
DP
what’s C
C'
IP
he doing
In yes–no questions, there is no interrogative pronoun and the question is
interpreted as asking about the truth of the proposition that it expresses. Hence they
may be answered by “yes” (that’s true) or “no” (that’s not true):
(20) a will they ever stop singing?
b have you seen my glasses?
c did you see that?
Note that these questions are formed by placing an auxiliary verb in front of the
subject, a phenomenon traditionally termed subject–auxiliary inversion. Again, given
that the auxiliary is to the left of the subject, it seems to be outside of the IP and
presumably somewhere in the CP. This time, however, the position needed is a word
position and the obvious choice is the complementiser position itself:
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Interrogative CPs
(21)
CP
C'
C
IP
was
it my fault
It makes perfect sense that wh-questions and yes–no questions involve the
complementiser system as complementisers contribute the semantics of force to the
sentence, but there is independent evidence for the validity of these analyses. To start,
that inverted auxiliaries occupy the C position is supported by the observation that
inverted auxiliaries and complementisers are in complementary distribution. The best
evidence for this involves not interrogative clauses, though it is also true that we never
get inverted auxiliaries and complementisers together in an interrogative, but
conditional clauses. In English there are two types of conditional clause, one formed
with an if complementiser and one formed with an inverted auxiliary:
(22) a [if he’s a government minister] then I’m the Queen of Sheba
b [had I known about your allergy] I wouldn’t have sent flowers
That if conditionals do not involve auxiliary inversion demonstrates that the
complementiser and the inverted auxiliary are in complementary distribution and
therefore occupy the same position:
(23) a *[if had I known royalty was visiting] I would have combed my hair
b *[had if I been told the deadline] I would have typed the report yesterday
Moreover, with many wh-questions we also get auxiliary inversion:
(24) a what will you do?
b when should we meet?
c who did you talk to?
As we can see the wh-element precedes the inverted auxiliary, supporting the
assumption that the wh-element is in the specifier of CP and the inverted auxiliary is in
the head position:
(25)
CP
DP
C'
what C
should
IP
they do
Having established the structure of these interrogatives, let us spend some time
discussing the processes involved in their formation.
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3.2
Wh-movement
Wh-elements come in a variety of forms and functions. All of them contain some
element that has an interrogative interpretation, which may be a pronoun, a determiner
or a degree adverb:
(26) a
b
c
d
[DP what] do you think?
[DP which present] did she get you?
[PP to whom] am I talking?
[AP how fast] did they run?
We might assume that all of these phrases share a common ‘interrogative feature’
which determines their interpretation as question elements. Typically this feature is
represented as [+wh] and is contrasted with [–wh] which has a declarative
interpretation.
The main issue to be discussed is why wh-elements move to the specifier of the
CP. We have seen that movement of DPs to the specifier of IP is motivated by the
need to circumvent the actions of the Case filter. But this cannot be the motivation for
wh-movements. This can be argued for from a number of perspectives. First note that
wh-movement does not always involve DPs, unlike movements to spec IP. As the Case
filter concerns only the distribution of DPs, it cannot be the motivation for all whmovements and there must be another reason for why non-DP wh-elements, at least,
undergo the process. Moreover, the Case filter cannot be the motivation for DP whelements moving to spec CP. This is because DP wh-elements move to spec CP from
Case positions:
(27) a what1 do you know t1?
b who1 did you speak to t1?
c who1 do you think [t1 is the thief]?
The wh-element in (27a) moves from an object position, from the object of a
preposition in (27b) and from a finite clause subject position in (27c). All these are
Case positions, so the Case filter cannot explain why the movement took place.
There seem to be two interrelated motivations for wh-movement, one concerning
the interpretation of the clause, and one concerning the interpretation of the whelement itself. Let’s start with the clause. Obviously clauses are either interpreted as
questions or not. Moreover, in embedded contexts the distribution of a clause will
depend on its force as some verbs require an interrogative complement while others
require a declarative one:
(28) a Andrew asked [if/*that the pears were ripe]
b they didn’t think [that/*if the pears were ripe]
In the examples in (28) the force of the embedded clauses is obviously determined by
the complementiser, as would be expected. However, in the following, it seems that
the force of the clause is determined by the wh-element in specifier positions:
(29)
Wendy wondered [when the pears would be ripe]
This is a little puzzling as phrases do not get their properties form their specifiers, but
from their heads.
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Interrogative CPs
We have seen in a number of previous places that the head and the specifier have a
special relationship. In the IP where the subject sits in the specifier and the agreement
morpheme sits in the head position, the two elements ‘agree’ with each other in terms
of number and person features. Thus if the subject is a third person singular element,
then the agreement will be third person singular and determine that the finite
morpheme ‘s’ will show up on the verb. In the DP, the possessor sits in the specifier
position and this can only be accompanied by a determiner that ‘agrees’ with it in
terms of possession. We might assume therefore that the CP will be no different and
that the head and its specifier will enter into an agreement relationship, presumably in
terms of the [+wh] feature. So, if the specifier has this feature, so will the head. Of
course, if the head has the feature, then it will project it to the CP and this will be
interpreted as an interrogative clause, and hence the wh-specifier can indeed influence
the interpretation of the clause in a round-about manner:
(30)
CP
wh
C'
C
IP
In (30) the double arrow represents the agreement relationship between the head and
its specifier and the single headed arrows represent the projection of the head’s
features to the CP. By this path then the [+wh] on the wh-element ends up on the
whole CP and a CP with a wh-specifier will be interpreted as interrogative. Thus, one
motivation for wh-movement might be that there is need to interpret the clause as an
interrogative.
This cannot be the whole story however. The following indicates that moving the
wh-element to the front of the clause is not obligatory:
(31) A I voted for the Monster Raving Loony Party
B you voted for who?
B’s response involves what is known as an echo question, in which a previously
uttered sentence is more or less repeated and a part of it that was either not heard or
not believed replaced by a wh-element. The meaning is quite clear: it is a request for
someone to repeat or confirm the previous statement. This is very different from the
meaning of a wh-question which is asking for information about a particular aspect of
the sentence. Compare:
(32) a who did you talk to?
b you talked to who?
One major difference in meaning between these two sentences is that the first
presupposes the truth of the proposition: the speaker assumes that you spoke to
someone is true. Thus this kind of question cannot be asked felicitously if the speaker
doesn’t think that you spoke to anyone. This is not true of (32b), however. In repeating
back the previously made statement, the speaker does not commit himself to either its
truth or falsity: judgement about that is postponed until the answer is received. Clearly
this difference in meaning has something to do with where the wh-element is situated.
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If the wh-element is moved to the specifier of CP then the result is a whinterrogative interpretation. If not then the sentence is interpreted as an echo question.
We might think of this in terms of the interpretation of the wh-element itself. A whelement interpreted in an echo question simply has the role of a pointer to the missing
information. In a sense it is a ‘place filler’ that does little more than indicate what
needs to be repeated. A wh-element that is moved into a the specifier of the CP is a
little more complex in terms of its interpretation. The semantics of a moved whelement is similar to that of a quantifier such as everyone or someone. These are called
operators as they indicate a process that is needed to work out the meaning of the
sentence that contains them. For example, consider the difference between the following:
(33) a Tim is tall
b someone is tall
The truth of (33) is fairly easy to establish. First we find the individual that the name
Tim refers to and then we see if they have the property of being tall. The truth of the
second statement is not quite so easy. For a start, there is no individual to whom the
word someone refers and so it isn’t just a matter of checking to see if the person has
the property of being tall. Instead we must go to the set of things that someone could
potentially refer to (the set of people relevant to a conversation, perhaps) and go
through each of them individually to see if they are tall. If at least one of them is tall,
then the sentence in (33) is true. If none of them are tall then the sentence is false.
Consider what who means in (32a). Like the quantifier someone the interrogative
pronoun does not refer to a known individual. Instead, the hearer is asked to perform a
process of going to the set of potential referents and finding those that if substituted for
the wh-element would produce a true sentence:
(34) a who did you talk to?
b I talked to Tom – false = not the answer
I talked to Dick – false = not the answer
I talked to Harry – true = answer
Thus, a fronted wh-element is interpreted as an operator. Given that the difference
between a wh-element that is interpreted as an operator and one that is simply used as
an echoic device is that the former is moved to specifier of CP while the latter is not it
seems that the movement plays a role in determining the interpretation of the whelement as well as the interpretation of the clause that contains it. Let us assume the
following interpretative principle:
(35)
interpret a wh-element as an operator if it is in spec CP
There is one exception to the above principle however. Consider the following:
(36)
who does Thelma think likes what
This is known as a multiple wh-question as it is a single question that asks for more
than one piece of information. Note that both of the wh-elements may be interpreted as
operators (the second one may be interpreted as an echo given the right intonation), in
which case the answer to the question has to be a list of pairs ranging over likers and
likees. The interesting point is that the second wh-element, although it may be
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interpreted as an operator, clearly has not undergone movement and so seems to
violate the interpretative principle in (35). One thing is clear, however: the
interpretation of this non-moved wh-element as an operator is dependent on there
being a moved wh-element in the same sentence. If this were not a multiple whquestion, the wh-element would have to move. What we need then is to somehow tie
the non-moved wh-element to the moved one. One possibility would be to claim that at
some level of representation of the sentence which is relevant for semantic
interpretation, multiple instances of wh-elements are interpreted as a single complex
wh-element. Let us simply say that we indicate the interpretation of multiple whelements as a complex operator by coindexing them:
(37)
who1 does Bill think likes what1
We can then alter our statement of the interpretative principle to fit this situation:
interpret a wh-element as an operator if it is in spec CP or is coindexed with a
wh-element in spec CP
(38)
The movement of the wh-element to spec CP therefore seems to have an interpretative
motivation, which contrasts with the grammatical motivation of the movement to spec
IP. There are other differences between the movements, which we will look at in the
next chapter. We may, for now, simply identify the kind of Case filter/grammatically
motivated movement as A-movement (A stands for ‘argument’ as it is only argument
DPs which undergo it) and the kind of semantically motivated movement, such as whmovement, as -movement ( means ‘not argument’).
3.3
Inversion
Looking at inverted auxiliaries, we see that they all have one thing in common: they
are all finite. An inverted auxiliary may be a modal, which is inherently finite, or an
aspectual auxiliary which bears tense and we never get a non-finite form of the
auxiliary in the inverted position:
(39) a
b
c
d
could they be finished?
have they finished?
are they starting again?
*having him been seen
This suggests that the auxiliary moves to the C position from the inflection position. This
is straightforward with modals as they are generated in the inflection position at Dstructure. Thus they undergo a movement from I to C in certain interrogative structures:
(40)
CP
C'
C
IP
DP
I'
I
VP
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The case of aspectual auxiliaries is similar to the modals. In the previous chapter
we claimed that these auxiliaries are inserted elements that may move from the tense
position to the I position when there is null agreement in I. Thus, if they are in I, they
can also undergo movement from I to C:
(41)
CP
C'
C
IP
DP
you
I'
I
vP
-∅
v'
v
have
vP
seen my father
Main verbs are problematic however, as they do not appear to be able to move to
the C position:
(42) a have you read the book?
b *read you the book
c did you read the book?
As we can see, a yes–no question involving a main verb moving to the C position is
ungrammatical and instead of the main verb moving to C what happens is that the
dummy auxiliary do is inserted into the tense position, and from there it moves to C,
via I. Of course, this is readily accounted for if main verbs do not move to I, as is the
standard assumption. If they are never in I they cannot move to C without violating the
head movement constraint. But we argued that main verbs can move to I and so it is
not readily apparent why they cannot move to C. We will put this issue to one side
until we have discussed the facts about I-to-C movement more fully. For the time
being, then, we will concentrate on I-to-C movement as it involves auxiliary verbs.
3.4
The interaction between wh-movement and inversion
The most important issue concerning I-to-C movement is why it happens. There are
two main views on this. One is that I-to-C movement happens because there is a bound
C morpheme in interrogative clauses and this triggers the movement of the auxiliary to
support it in the same way that inflections trigger verbs and auxiliaries to move. The
other view is that the movement happens in precisely the cases when there is nothing
in C and there is a requirement that there must be. The first is perhaps the most
intuitively obvious, but it faces a number of problems which make the other approach
more attractive. Let us consider each proposal separately.
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Interrogative CPs
We know that the complementiser is the head of the CP and that this provides the
relevant features for the force interpretation of the sentence. Some complementisers
are interrogative and some are declarative. Thus, when the clause is interrogative,
presumably it has an interrogative complementiser and vice versa if the clause is
declarative. In yes–no questions, therefore, we might expect the clause to have an
interrogative complementiser. As we can see no complementiser in such sentences, we
must assume it to be abstract. The assumption of such an element is supported by the
fact that in some languages a morpheme with exactly these properties appears overtly.
For example, in Japanese, a yes–no question is marked by the appearance of the
morpheme ka at the end of the clause. Thus, the difference between (43a) and (43b) is
that the first is declarative and the second interrogative:
(43) a Keko-wa sensei desu
Keko
teacher is
‘Keko is a teacher’
b Keko-wa sensei desu ka?
‘is Keko a teacher?’
In Japanese, the complementiser goes in the final position of the clause and so the
question particle is suitably analysed as a complementiser. Thus, we might claim that
English is similar to this, the main difference being that the question particle is covert
in English:
(44)
CP
C'
C
IP
Q
she is a teacher?
The simple assumption that this interrogative complementiser is a bound morpheme in
English is enough to justify the movement of the inflectional element to support it:
(45)
CP
C'
C
is1
IP
C she t1 a teacher?
-Q
A similar analysis can be provided for inversion that accompanies wh-movement to
spec CP. As we discussed in the previous section, wh-movement to spec CP
establishes an agreement relationship between the wh-element and the head of CP that
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Chapter 7 - Complementiser Phrases
enables the clause to be interpreted as an interrogative. One way to realise this
agreement relationship is in terms of the presence of an interrogative complementiser,
i.e. the empty question particle, in the C position:
(46)
CP
DP
C'
who C
IP
-Q
Again, as this particle is a bound morpheme, it will trigger movement to support it:
(47)
CP
DP
C'
what C
IP
-Q DP
you
I'
I
VP
have
done
This all seems fairly straightforward. Unfortunately things are a little more
complex and it appears that we do not always get inversion in question clauses. One
place where we find that inversion doesn’t happen is in embedded questions:
(48) a I didn’t know [what he would say]
b *I didn’t know [what would he say]
In some embedded contexts, it seems as though inversion is optional:
(49) a the boarder guard asked [why the tourist didn’t have a passport]
b the boarder guard asked [why didn’t the tourist have a passport]
Note, however, these two sentences have very different meanings. In the first case the
embedded question reports on the ‘content’ of the question that was asked. The
question might not have been framed in these exact words, or even in English! In
contrast, in the second case the embedded clause reports on the words that were
actually used. Thus in the second case, the embedded clause actually echoes a previous
sentence that has been uttered. When it was uttered, obviously this sentence was not an
embedded clause but a main one, and hence it is not surprising that it follows the
pattern of a main clause. Therefore, (49b) isn’t really an example of an embedded
clause with inversion but it involves something that is a main clause, seemingly being
used in an embedded context. The conclusion is that in real embedded clauses we
don’t get inversion.
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Interrogative CPs
But this is a puzzle. Why do we not get inversion in an embedded interrogative? If
the account of why we get inversion in main clauses is as we have so far suggested,
then we must conclude that the question complementiser either does not need binding
in an embedded clause, or that it is bound by some other element. For example, we
might assume that the question complementiser in an embedded clause is not the same
complementiser that appears in the main clause. We know that we do not get the kinds
of overt complementisers that introduce embedded clauses in main clauses:
(50) a *that Rachel is rich
b *if you saw that
However, we have also claimed that main clauses are CPs and so have
complementisers introducing them. Therefore there seems to be a distinction between
main clause and embedded clause complementisers. If this is so, then we might claim
that the main clause interrogative complementiser differs from the embedded
interrogative clause complementiser in that the former is a bound morpheme while the
latter is not:
(51) a
CP
wh
b
C'
C
V'
V
IP
-Q DP
wh
I'
I
CP
C'
C
VP
Q
aux
IP
DP
I'
I
VP
aux
But this is a rather ad hoc solution which doesn’t really tell us why things are this
way and hence does not really have much by way of explanatory content.
A second proposal claims that the difference between main and embedded clauses
is that while complementisers are allowed in embedded clauses they are not in main
clauses. Thus, a main clause interrogative actually lacks an interrogative in the C
position, which is therefore underlyingly empty. An embedded clause on the other
hand differs in two ways from a main clause: complementisers are allowed in
embedded clauses and the clause itself is selected as a complement by some predicate.
We have seen how a predicate imposes selectional restrictions on its clausal
complements and those predicates which take an interrogative complement will
demand that the CP be marked as interrogative. The way to mark a clause as
interrogative is to give it an interrogative head and this can either be overt, i.e. if or
covert, i.e. Q:
(52) a Robin doesn’t remember [CP if [IP she bought bread]]
b Richard doesn’t recall [CP where Q [IP he left his horse]]
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Chapter 7 - Complementiser Phrases
If we assume that Q, like if, is not a bound morpheme, then there will be no reason
for inversion. However, in a main clause there can be no complementiser and hence Q
like all other complementisers will be prevented from appearing. An interrogative CP
still needs to be interpreted as interrogative however and hence it will need its head to
have the [+wh] feature. We have seen how, when a wh-element moves to spec CP, it
agrees with the head. If we make the reasonable assumption that nothing can agree
with an empty head position, this necessitates something being in the head position of
an interrogative clause. Given that complementisers are systematically excluded from
this position, the only option is to move the nearest head into the C position and this
will be the auxiliary in I:
(53) a *[CP what e [IP I can do]]
b *[CP what if/Q [IP I can do]]
c [CP what can1 [IP I t1 do]]
(53a) is ruled out because the wh-element has nothing to agree with and hence the
clause cannot be interpreted as an interrogative. (53b) is ruled out by the general
exclusion of complementisers appearing in main clauses. This leaves (53c) as the only
grammatical possibility.
While this analysis seems less ad hoc than the assumption of different interrogative
complementisers in main and embedded clauses, there are still a number of questions
left unanswered. For example, how are we to analyse yes–no questions under the
assumption that complementisers are not allowed in main clause complementiser
positions? What triggers the inversion in this case if there is no wh-element to agree
with? The answer might be that there is a wh-like element in yes–no questions.
Although we do not get inversion type yes–no questions in embedded clauses, for
obvious reasons, it is still possible to have an embedded yes–no question. These are
typically expressed by the element whether:
(54)
I asked [CP whether I should bring some wine]
If we were to put the content of this embedded clause into a main clause it would be
should I bring some wine, i.e. a yes–no question. Thus, (54) contains an embedded
yes–no question. The wh-element whether is quite strange. In many ways it looks like
a complementiser, being a word that appears at the front of an interrogative clause,
rather like if. However, there are a number of reasons to believe that whether is not a
complementiser. For one thing, it can introduce both finite and non-finite clauses:
(55) a I wonder [CP whether I should boil the eggs]
b I wonder [CP whether to boil the eggs]
As we have seen, complementisers generally select for a particular type of CP
complement, either finite or non-finite. Moreover, no other complementiser can
introduce a non-finite clause with a missing subject:
(56)
*they hoped [for – to win]
Whether can be coordinated with operators like the negative and wh-pronouns:
(57) a I’m not sure [whether or even when I should applaud]
b they asked [whether or not they would be paid]
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Interrogative CPs
No other complementiser can do this:
(58) a *I don’t know [if and when to stand up]
b *she wondered [if or not to pack the bags]
Finally consider the fact that the word whether was used in Old English to introduce
yes–no questions in main clauses:
(59)
hwœðer ge nu secan gold on treowum
whether you now seek gold in trees
‘do you now seek gold in trees’
Yet Old English did not have main sentences that started with complementisers,
indicating that whether never was a complementiser even in former stages of the
language.
But if whether is not a complementiser, what is it? It differs in one very large way
from wh-elements and that is while wh-elements move out of a clause whether does
not seem to. Wh-elements are all moved to the spec CP from some position inside the
IP and therefore they are always associated with a ‘gap’ in the clause, filled, of course,
by a trace:
(60) a [CP who1 did [IP you think I met t1]]
b [CP who1 did [IP he say t1 likes tennis]]
c [CP where1 did [IP you put the anti-tank missiles t1]]
But whether is not linked to any position inside the IP from which it has moved. This,
I think, is understandable in terms of the functions of wh-elements. Most wh-elements
are used in wh-questions and their function is to mark the clause as an interrogative
and to indicate what the focus of the question is. (60a), for example is a question about
the object, which is the position from which the wh-element derives. As we said, the
function of whether is to mark a yes–no question and these questions focus on the truth
of the sentence rather than on any particular piece of information it may carry. For this
reason, then, whether does not need to hold a position in the clause, it merely indicates
the clause’s question status. We may assume therefore that whether is a wh-element
that is generated directly in the specifier of CP as a general interrogative operator. As
it appears in embedded contexts, it will be accompanied by an interrogative
complementiser Q with which it agrees:
(61)
CP
whether
C'
C
IP
Q
What about main clause yes–no questions? Obviously in Modern English, whether
is not allowed to appear in main clauses. But we might suppose that something appears
in the same position in main clause interrogatives. This is clearly an operator like
whether, only phonologically null. Standardly, null operators are denoted by Op:
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Chapter 7 - Complementiser Phrases
(62)
CP
Op
C'
C
IP
Like other main clauses the complementiser position is empty and yet the null operator
must agree with something to ensure the correct interpretation of the clause. This then
is the trigger for the auxiliary inversion we see in yes–no main clauses. We end up
then with a very uniform analysis of interrogatives in English: they all have an
interrogative operator in the specifier position of the CP which agrees with the head. In
main clauses the head cannot contain a complementiser, so an auxiliary is moved to C
to enter into the agreement relationship. In subordinate clauses however,
complementisers can appear and so there is no need for auxiliary inversion:
(63) a
CP
wh
b
C'
C
e
CP
wh
IP
DP
C
I'
I
C'
Q
VP
aux
IP
DP
I'
I
VP
aux
A final issue we might mention in connection with this analysis concerns the
embedded clauses. If embedded questions can have complementisers as well as whelements in their specifier positions, why do we never get them together?:
(64) a I never heard [Op if [they caught the burglar]]
b I never heard [who Q [they caught]]
c *I never heard [who if [they caught]]
This is a puzzle for which I have no real account. Apparently it is a very general
condition that a CP can contain either an overt operator or an overt complementiser.
We will see that this extends to other clauses too. Moreover, it appears not to be
violated by an auxiliary moving to C. The condition has been known as the Doubly
Filled COMP Filter since (1977) when it was introduced by Chomsky and Lasnik.
However, this stipulatory account has never been superseded by anything more
explanatory. I will therefore adopt the Doubly Filled COMP Filter as a condition on
the well-formedness of structures in lieu of a proper explanation:
(65)
the Doubly Filled COMP Filter
no CP can have both an overt specifier and an overt complementiser
generated in C
This will have to suffice until we gain a better understanding of this phenomenon.
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Interrogative CPs
3.5
Subject questions
The last issue concerning interrogatives we will discuss concerns the difference
between wh-questions which focus on the main clause subject and all other kinds of
wh-questions. With most wh-questions it is fairly easy to see that movements take
place as elements such as objects and adjuncts do not appear in their expected
positions, but at the beginning of the clause:
(66) a who1 did they execute t1
b when1 was the meeting scheduled t1
Inversion is also possible to detect as the auxiliary and the subject end up on the
opposite sides of each other. But when it is the main clause subject that is the focus of
the question, things are no longer so clear cut. The word order is consistent with at
least three analyses:
(67) a [CP e [IP who can save the world]]
b [CP who1 e [IP t1 can save the world]]
c [CP who1 can2 [IP t1 t2 save the world]]
In (67a) both the wh-subject and the auxiliary are in the IP and do not move to the CP.
In (67b) the wh-subject moves to the specifier of CP but the auxiliary does not move
and in (67c) both the subject and the auxiliary move. But which one is correct and how
can we know? From all that we have said above, one might hope that (67c) is accurate
as only in this is the CP specifier filled with a wh-element and the head filled by
something it can agree with. However, doubt is cast on this conclusion from the
following phenomena:
(68) a who did you meet
b who met you
It seems that for some reason, to which we return shortly, main verbs cannot move
to C. So when a wh-element moves to the specifier of CP and it requires some element
in the C position to agree with, the dummy auxiliary is used and hence we get doinsertion. However, when the subject is the focus of the question, there is no doinsertion indicating that nothing has to move to C. If this is a general condition then it
suggests that no element moves from I to C in subject questions and hence that (67c) is
not correct. Opinions differ as to the correctness of (67a) or (b), but obviously both are
problematic for the straightforward analysis of interrogatives.
Before we consign (67c) to the waste bin however, let us see if it might be
salvaged. We have argued that main verbs do not differ in their positions from
auxiliary verbs except in the case of negation where the main verb cannot move over
the negative head, but as auxiliaries are inserted into tense, the presence of negation
does not affect them. Other than this, though, both main verbs and auxiliaries alike can
occupy the I position (contra standard wisdom). If this is a general fact, then it is
possible that main verbs can raise to C just as auxiliaries do and hence (68b) might be
analysed as involving I-to-C movement of the main verb:
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Chapter 7 - Complementiser Phrases
(69)
CP
DP
C'
who2 C
IP
met1 DP
t2
I'
I
VP
t1
you
As a structure this is straightforward. It contains a wh-element in the specifier of CP so
that the whole clause can be interpreted as an interrogative. Moreover it has something
in the C position for the wh-element to agree with. If we accept this as basically correct,
we then have (68a) to account for: why can the verb not move to C when anything but
the subject moves to spec CP? The answer would appear to have to do with the
subject: when this does not move to spec CP the main verb cannot move past I.
We have seen restrictions like this before. The adverb, for example must be above
the verb and the negation must be above the verb but below the tense. It seems that the
verb must be below the subject and hence when the subject is in spec IP the verb can
be no higher than I. However, when the subject moves to spec CP the verb can move
to C and still remain lower than the subject. When the verb cannot move from I to C
there is no choice other than to insert the auxiliary do. However, it appears that the
dummy auxiliary is not enough by itself to provide the wh-element with something to
agree with, thus the auxiliary must be inserted in to tense and move from there to I and
from there to C to provide enough semantic content to support the agreement. The verb
stays behind in the VP:
(70)
CP
wh
C'
C
IP
DP
I'
I
vP
v'
v
do
VP
V'
V
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Relative Clauses
To conclude this section. It seems that the distribution of elements in an English
sentence is partly due to structural conditions imposed by X-bar theory and the
selectional requirements of certain heads, partly due to the morphological properties of
certain heads and partly due to general ordering requirements affecting certain
elements. Specifically we have seen the effects of the following conditions:
(71) a verbs follow their subjects
b negation follows the finite tense and precedes the verb
c adverbs (follow the finite tense and) precede the verb
The brackets around the condition in (71c) indicate that this seems to be a preference
rather than a rigid condition and that if it is impossible for the adverb to both follow
the tense and precede the verb, both are in the same place for example, then the
condition may be relaxed.
4
Relative Clauses
There is another construction in English which looks like an embedded interrogative
clause, but which is very different in interpretation. This clause acts as the modifier of
the noun inside the DP:
(72) a I asked [who you met]
b the man [who you met]
Such noun modifier clauses are called relative clauses.
4.1
The position of the relative clause inside the NP
As relative clauses seem to modify nouns we can assume that they occupy a position
within the phrase headed by the noun. There is evidence that this is so as the noun and
the relative clauses can be pronominalised and coordinated separately from the
determiner:
(73) a the [mistake that I made] was much bigger than that one
b these [components that we make] and [boxes that we pack them in]
There are two possible adjunction sites inside the NP: the N'and the NP itself.
There is some evidence that relative clauses are adjoined to the N'
. For example, if it is
the case that the adjectival phrase is adjoined to the N'
, then the fact that the relative
clause can be adjoined lower still than APs indicates that they must also be adjoined to
N'and not to the NP:
(74)
my favourite [places I like to go] and [people I like to visit]
In this example, the AP favourite modifies both places I like to go and people I like to
visit, indicating that these are below the adjective:
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Chapter 7 - Complementiser Phrases
(75)
NP
N'
AP
favourite
N'
N'
and
places I like to go
N'
people I like to visit
However, there is a slight complication in that there are more than one type of
relative clause. Those that we have been looking at so far are known as restrictive
relative clauses. Semantically these tend to focus on one element out of a set of
possible referents. For example, the components that we make focuses on a particular
set of components out of a larger set of components which are distinguished by the fact
that we make them. Thus, the purpose of the relative is to ‘restrict’ our attention to a
certain element or elements out of a possible range of elements. By contrast, nonrestrictive relative clauses simply add extra information about the referent of the noun
being modified:
(76)
the earth, which is 93 million miles from the sun
Note here, there is not a range of possible referents for the noun earth and the relative
clause restricts our attention to one of them. There is just one earth being spoken of,
and the fact that it is 93 million miles from the sun is given as information about this
object.
Restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses also differ from each other in terms
of their internal properties, something which we will discuss more fully in the next
section. For now, let us just note that restrictive relative clauses may begin with a that
whereas non-restrictive relatives never do:
(77) a the man [that you met] (as opposed to all the other men)
b *the earth [that is next to Mars] (as opposed to all the other earths!)
c the earth, [which is next to Mars]
The two kinds of relative also differ in their prosodic properties. In written form
the non-restrictive relative is followed by a comma, which indicates a slight pause
between the noun and the relative. There is no pause between the noun and its
restrictive modifying clause however.
It may be that the two clauses also differ syntactically and indeed it is often
assumed that non-restrictive relative clauses are more distant from the noun than are
restrictive relatives. This is supported by the following observations:
(78) a the [man [who you met]] and [woman [who you haven’t]]
b this [man [who you met]] is taller than that one
(79) a my [mother [who you met]] and [father [who you didn’t]]
b *my [mother [who you met]] is taller that his one
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Relative Clauses
Both kinds of relative clauses can be coordinated with other like constituents
showing that they both form a constituent with the noun that they modify. But only the
restrictive relative clause and its noun can be pronominalised by one. A possible
explanation for this is that one only pronominalises N'
s and the string consisting of a
noun and a non-restrictive clause is not an N'
. This suggests that while restrictive
relatives adjoin to the N'
, non-restrictive relatives adjoin higher up, perhaps to the NP:
(80)
NP
NP
N'
N'
N
CP
that you met
man
NP
CP
N'
which is round
N
earth
Having established the external distribution of the relative clause, let us move on to
look at some of its internal properties.
4.2
A comparison between relative and interrogative clauses
As pointed out, in many ways the relative clause has many properties in common with
a wh-interrogative. But relative clauses are not interrogative, but declarative. This is
clear both from their interpretation and the fact that they may start with the
complementiser that which as we have seen, introduces declarative clauses. Thus, the
wh-element which starts relative and interrogative clauses seems to have a different set
of features: an interrogative pronoun is [+wh] and a relative pronoun is [–wh]. One
might think therefore that they are entirely different lexical elements. This is supported
by the fact that in some languages there are differences between relative and
interrogative pronouns. In Hungarian for instance, there is a systematic difference with
relative pronouns beginning with a-:
(81)
Interrogative
ki – kit (who nom – acc)
mi – mit (what nom – acc)
mikor (when)
hol (where)
melyik (which)
Relative
aki – akit
ami – amit
amikor
ahol
amelyik
Even so, there is still an obvious relationship between the two and so it probably
would not be wise to claim them to be completely separate. It may be that whpronouns are lexically unmarked for the feature [±wh] and get this through the
agreement with the appropriate complementiser, though this suggestion does not
entirely square with the claim made earlier that in main clauses there is no
complementiser for the interrogative pronoun to agree with.
Whatever the relationship between interrogative and relative pronouns, it still
needs to be acknowledged that there are different possibilities in both types. For
example, in English although what is a perfectly good interrogative pronoun, its use as
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Chapter 7 - Complementiser Phrases
a relative pronoun is somewhat stigmatised, being seen as a characteristic of
‘uneducated’ speech. Dialects and sociolects that make use of ‘what relatives’ also do
not use the relative pronoun in a way consistent with the interrogative pronoun. While
what as an interrogative pronoun has a ‘non-human’ aspect to it in any dialect, in that
you couldn’t point to a person and ask “what is that” without being offensive (“who is
that” would obviously be more appropriate), what-relatives are often used to modify
nouns with human referents:
(82) a a man [what I know]
b this bloke [what I was telling you about]
In standard English, however, what-relatives are not accepted even for modifying
nouns with non-human referents:
(83) a *the book [what I read]
b *an idea [what I had]
The only acceptable use of a what-relatives in standard English is in relatives which
appear to lack a modified noun, what are sometimes called headless relatives:
(84) a [what you should do now] is …
b [what I say and what I do] are two totally different things
c [what I don’t understand] is …
To conclude on this issue, what as an interrogative pronoun and what as a relative
pronoun are used in very different ways in all dialects.
There is another interesting difference between the use of interrogative and relative
pronouns which shows that there is a possibility available for a relative pronoun that is
not generally available with interrogatives. The restrictive relative is often noted to
come in three different forms. One starts with a wh-relative pronoun and is called a
wh-relative. Another starts with the complementiser that and is called a that-relative,
and the third has nothing in front of the subject and is called a zero relative. These are
exemplified below:
(85) a the man [who I paid]
b the man [that I paid]
c the man [I paid]
The wh-relative resembles an interrogative in more than just the fact that it is
introduced by a wh-element, but also in the process which apparently forms the two
structures. In both cases, the wh-element starts off inside the clause and moves to the
specifier of CP. Thus, both types of clauses start with a wh-element and have a
corresponding ‘gap’ in the position it was moved from. The gap contains the trace of
the moved wh-element:
(86) a I wonder [who1 Sherlock suspects t1]
b the butler [who1 Sherlock suspects t1]
Interestingly, although they do not start with a wh-element, both that-relatives and
zero relatives contain a gap in the same place that they would if they did have a whelement:
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Relative Clauses
(87) a the butler [that Sherlock suspects -]
b the butler [Sherlock suspects -]
We should first counter a myth about that-relatives that prevails from traditional
grammars. In these it is common to find that at the beginning of the relative clause
referred to as a relative pronoun, thus suggesting that it be given the same treatment as
wh-elements. If this is true, then this element originates inside the clause and moves to
the specifier of CP, as do wh-elements. But there are many reasons to believe that this
word is not a wh-element but is, as appearances predict, a simple complementiser.
Firstly, note that as would be predicated on the assumption that it is a complementiser,
that is only ever used in finite clauses and although wh-elements can marginally be
used in non-finite clauses, that never is:
(88) a the man [who to contact] *the man [that to contact]
b a place [where to stay]
*a place [that to live]
Instead, we can get a for complementiser in non-finite relatives, as would be
expected:
(89) a a man [for you to contact]
b a place [for me to stay]
Another argument that that is not a relative pronoun in that-relatives is that it does
not behave like a wh-element with respect to prepositions. Note the following two
possibilities with a wh-relative:
(90) a the house [which1 I live in t1]
b the house [in which1 I live t1]
When the wh-element is part of a PP it has the option of moving alone, a strategy
known as preposition stranding, or of taking the whole PP with it, a strategy known
as pied-piping (after the story of the Pied Piper of Hamlin, who played his pipes and
the rats followed him – the connection between prepositions and rats is, however,
mysterious). If that were a relative pronoun, we might expect the same options to be
available in that-relatives. But this is not true:
(91) a the house [that I live in -]
b *the house [in that I live -]
One explanation for why we do not get pied piping with a that-relatives is that that is
not a relative pronoun and did not originate in the gapped position and hence the
preposition could not be pied-piped by it.
If that is a complementiser in the that-relatives, then that-relatives and zero
relatives are alike in that they do not contain a wh-element and the difference appears
to be the standard ability of the complementiser to be overt or covert in a finite clause:
(92) a I said [(that) I was reading a book]
b the book [(that) I was reading -]
The fact remains however, that there is still a gap in these relative clauses. What is
the nature of this gap? In many ways it has exactly the same nature as the gap in a whrelative. Consider this a little more closely: in a wh-relative, the relative clause acts as
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Chapter 7 - Complementiser Phrases
a modifier of the noun by relating the noun to a position in the relative clause itself.
Thus in (93a) the noun is modified by being interpreted as the object of the verb in the
relative clause, whereas in (93b) the noun is modified by being interpreted as the
subject of the relative clause:
(93) a the team [which we beat t]
b the team [which t beat us]
The relationship between the noun and the relevant position is not a direct one,
however: it is not the noun which moved out of this position otherwise we would end
up with a somewhat circular structure with the noun being part of the relative clause
that is part of the NP headed by the noun! The relationship between the noun and the
position in the relative clause is mediated by the relative pronoun: it is this element
that originates in the relevant position and this pronoun is referentially dependent on
the noun:
(94) a the team [which1 we beat t1]
b the team [which1 t1 beat us]
We might claim that this is exactly what the function of the relative pronoun is in a
relative clause. Indeed, if there is no wh-element related to a gap, or if the wh-element
does not move to create the gap, then the relative clause is ungrammatical:
(95) a *the team [we beat Liverpool]
b *the team [we beat which]
If this is true, then the same must be true of all relatives, including that and zero ones.
The fact that we cannot detect a wh-element in these relatives suggests that they should
be analysed as containing an empty wh-element, similar to the empty operator in yes–
no questions, but this time behaving like the type of wh-element that originates inside
the IP and moves to the spec of CP:
(96)
the team [Op1 (that) we beat t1]
Thus the difference between relative clauses and interrogative clauses in this respect is
that relative clauses can use the null operator in ways not possible in an interrogative,
i.e. as a referential operator rather than a non-referential one which is associated with
the truth of the expression.
Having enumerated several differences between interrogative and relative clauses
we can now ponder the question of whether these differences show a fundamental
distinction between the constructions, or whether they fall out from other
considerations. Let us start with why the wh-element undergoes movement in both
constructions. We have said that the interrogative wh-element undergoes movement
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Relative Clauses
because the clause needs to be interpreted as interrogative. This clearly cannot be the
reason for the movement of the relative pronoun as relative clauses are not
interrogative. The reason why a relative pronoun moves is presumably something to do
with its function as a mediator between the modified noun and a position inside the
relative clause and again this seems to differ from the wh-interrogative as wh-elements
in interrogatives do not act as mediators.
However, if we take one step back from the details, we can see some striking
similarities between the reasons for wh-movement in both types of clauses. For one
thing, both movements have semantic rather than grammatical motivations. Moreover,
the reason why the wh-element moves in an interrogative is to enable the CP to be
interpreted as a question. The reason why the wh-element moves in a relative clause is
to enable the CP to be interpreted as a modifier.
Finally by moving to the specifier of the CP, the wh-element is interpreted as an
operator in both interrogative and relative clauses. The fact that one is interpreted more
like a quantificational operator, like quantificational pronouns such as everyone or
someone, while the other is interpreted like an anaphoric operator, which is
referentially dependent on some other element in the sentence, like a reflexive pronoun
such as himself, falls out due to the different functions of questions and relative
clauses: one asks a question and the other modifies a noun.
What about the use of empty operators in relatives as compared to their limited use
in interrogatives?:
(97) a the idea [Op1 (that) I had t1]
b *I asked [Op1 (if) you had t1]
Again this may be entirely due to differences in the use of these constructions. As a
relative clause modifies a noun making use of an anaphoric operator, there must be an
antecedent for the operator to take its reference from. This antecedent, i.e. the modified
noun, can provide us with the content of the operator and hence this is recoverable
even if we cannot see the operator itself. With a question, however, as there is no
antecedent, the content of the operator has to be visible on the operator itself and hence
the null operator cannot be used in this way. The null operator used in yes–no
questions is clearly non-referential and hence has no specific content to be recovered.
In this situation then the null operator can suffice.
In conclusion then, it seems that the differences between interrogative and relative
clauses are mainly to do with their different functions. Syntactic and other differences
may be derivable from these. Certainly, given the above discussion, it is not really
surprising that they have very similar internal organisations and employ very similar
processes in their formation.
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Chapter 7 - Complementiser Phrases
5
Other fronting movements
So far we have concentrated on movements which seem to specifically involve
complementisers and their projections. However, there are movements in English
which appear to move an element out of the IP but which do not involve the CP. This
indicates that there are positions between the CP and the IP. In this final section of this
chapter we will briefly investigate this part of the English clause structure.
5.1
Topicalisation
So far we have claimed that AP modifiers of VP and of the clause are adjoined to
various places inside the IP. There is another position in which we can find both VP
and sentential adverbs which appears to be outside the IP altogether:
(98) a certainly, no one saw the thieves get away
b quietly, the robbers made their get-away
In some ways, the initial position for adverbs is similar to the wh-position, which is
unspecified for the kind of wh-element that can occupy it:
(99) a who did you think [- robbed the Post Office]
b what did you think [Biggs robbed -]
c where did you think [Biggs robbed the train -]
(subject wh)
(object wh)
(adjunct wh)
The initial position of the adverb seems also unrestricted in that any kind of adverb
can occupy it. The reason why the specifier of CP is so unrestricted is because
elements move to this position from positions compatible with their status (e.g. from
subject, complement and adjunct positions). Taking this into account, we might
therefore claim that the initial adverb position is a position to which various kinds of
adverbs move. This is backed up by the observation that this position is not only
reserved to adverbs, but a whole range of elements seem to be able to occupy it:
(100) a [PP on the train], I saw Biggs –
b [NP Biggs], I remember seeing – on the train
c [VP see Biggs on the train], I certainly did –
These fronted elements are often referred to as topics, as they represent
information that is already part of the discourse, or can be assumed to be readily
retrieved by the participants in the conversation from the context or from general
knowledge (often called ‘old’ information). Note that out of context, these expressions
often sound strange, but given a context in which the topicalised element has already
been introduced, they greatly improve:
(101) a considering all the places that I saw the robbers (i.e. on the platform, in the
engine and on the train), on the train, I saw Biggs, …
b of all the people that I recognised (i.e. Biggs, Smith and Jones), Biggs, I saw
on the train, …
c I expected to see Biggs on the train and [see Biggs on the train], I certainly
did
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Other fronting movements
One observation that links all these structures (including those with an initial
adverb) is that they are all pronounced with a pause after the initial phrase. This is
unlike the wh-element in spec CP, which has no pause after it. This might indicate, that
they are not in the same positions. Another observation that indicates a difference
between topicalisation and wh-movement is that there is never inversion with
topicalisation:
(102) a where will the robbers strike next
b *the bank, will the robbers strike next
Moreover, if the fronted topics occupied the same position as fronted wh-phrases,
then we would expect them to be in complementary distribution, which they are not:
(103) a on this train, where would you hide the money?
b this man, where have I seen before?
These data show us that the topic is not moved to the specifier of the CP, but to a
position to its left. The obvious suggestion is that the topic is adjoined to the CP. This
is supported by the fact that we can have multiple topics and adjunction is a recursive
structure:
(104)
[CP yesterday, [CP on the train, [CP Biggs, [CP I saw]]]]
A complication is added by considering other examples. In embedded contexts, the
topic does not precede the CP, but follows both the specifier and the head
complementiser:
(105) a I asked where, in this town, we could hide
b I think that, in this town, there’s no hiding place
Thus it seems that there are two topic positions in the clause, one adjoined to the CP
and one adjoined to the IP. The choice of the two is not free however as it is only in
main clauses that the topic can adjoin to the CP and only in embedded clauses that the
topic can adjoin to IP:
(106) a *where could [in this town], you hide?
b *I asked [in this town] where you could hide?
Thus, the relevant structures for topicalisation in main and embedded clauses is as
follows:
(107)
CP
PP
In this town
CP
where
C'
C
IP
can
you hide
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Chapter 7 - Complementiser Phrases
(108)
CP
C'
C
that
IP
PP
in this town
IP
there’s no hiding place
Conditional clauses also have a similar distribution and hence we might claim that
they are CP and IP adjuncts:
(109) a if you had known, what would you have done
b I think that, if I had known, I never would have allowed it
However, conditionals, unlike topics, are not restricted to the preceding position:
(110) a what would you have done, if you had known
b I think that I never would have allowed it, if I had known
Moreover, conditional clauses are not associated with any particular position inside the
main clause, unlike topics. Therefore we can conclude that conditionals are generated
in these positions whereas topics are moved to these positions from various places
within the IP.
5.2
Focus fronting
Compare the following two sentences:
(111) a an Arsenal supporter, I wouldn’t trust
b an Arsenal supporter I wouldn’t trust
(111a) is a case of topicalisation, whereas (111b) is something different. Note that the
comma after the topic indicates an intonational difference between the two sentences:
the topic forms an intonational unit by itself, with its own stress, and the following
sentence also has its own stress. The other construction, however, has the fronted
element within the same intonation unit as the rest of the clause and this element
carries the major stress of the sentence. Interpretationally, there is also a large
difference between these two sentences. In the first, the conversational situation must
be that an Arsenal supporter has already been mentioned, probably as one of a number
of people being discussed. The sentence then offers some new information about this
person: that the speaker wouldn’t trust him. Thus we may classify the topic as ‘old’
information and what follows, usually termed the comment, as ‘new’:
(112)
an Arsenal supporter,
old
I wouldn’t trust
new
The other structure is almost the exact opposite of this. The situation here is that it is
already known that I wouldn’t trust someone and the new information is that an
Arsenal supporter is that person. A typical use of this construction would be to correct
someone asserting that I wouldn’t trust a Liverpool supporter. The reply might be “no,
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Other fronting movements
an Arsenal supporter I wouldn’t trust”. Thus, in terms of the information it contains,
the stressed element can be seen as the new stuff and what follows, the old:
(113)
an Arsenal supporter
new
I wouldn’t trust
old
We call the stressed element that carries new information the focus.
As to the position of the focus, this is a little more difficult to determine. For one
thing, foci and questions do not sit happily together:
(114) a *men who would trust
b *who would men trust
If we want to have a focus and a wh-question in the same clause, we have to indicate
the focus by stress alone rather than by movement:
(115)
who would trust men
(115) might be used in response to someone asking ‘who would trust women?’, with
the meaning that it’s men who are untrustworthy, not women. However, this
complementary distribution between foci and wh-elements should not lead us to
assume that the focus sits in the specifier of the CP. We can see this from the fact that
in embedded clauses the focus, like the topic, follows the complementiser:
(116)
I said that men I wouldn’t trust
From this perspective, it seems as though the focus sits in a similar position to the
topic, adjoined to the IP in embedded contexts. This assumption is also problematic, as
if both the topic and the focus were adjoined to IP, one might expect them to be able to
appear in any order. But this is not so:
(117) a I said that, in this room, potatoes I wouldn’t store
b *I said that potatoes, in this room, I wouldn’t store
At the moment it is not obvious how we can accommodate these data and in particular
the position of the focus remains a mystery. We will put the issue to one side until
after we have looked at one more case of movement to the front of the clause.
5.3
Negative fronting
A third movement which places an element at the front of the clause involves negative
phrases:
(118)
never in my life have I been so embarrassed
This kind of movement is even more like wh-movement than the other two we have
looked at as it is accompanied by an inverted auxiliary, which topicalisation and focus
fronting are not. We might be tempted, therefore to propose that negative fronting
moves the negative element in to the specifier of CP. Unfortunately, the following
datum questions this assumption:
(119)
I said that never in my life have I been so embarrassed
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Chapter 7 - Complementiser Phrases
The fronted negative obviously follows the complementiser and so cannot be in
specifier of CP. However, note that the fronted negation is still accompanied by
auxiliary inversion and therefore there must be a head position to accommodate the
auxiliary. This would suggest the following structure:
(120)
CP
C'
C
XP
NegP
X'
X
IP
Under these assumptions the negative phrase is fronted to the specifier of some phrase
that comes between the complementiser and the IP. The head of this phrase is then
where the inverted auxiliary sits.
What is the nature of XP and how does it interact with the other movements we
have reviewed? If we are to maintain our view that functional categories select for a
very limited selection of complements, then as XP is the complement of a
complementiser this argues that it is something like an IP. However, presumably X is a
functional element itself and it takes an IP complement, which makes it more like a
complementiser. Given that complementisers are categorised as [+F, –N, –V] and
inflections are [+F, –N, +V] categories, a category which shares properties of them
both would be [+F, –N], with an undefined V feature. Let us refer to this category a
little ‘i’, reflecting the use of ‘v’ to represent a verbal element with an undefined F
feature. This element heads an iP and so the structure can be represented as:
(121)
CP
C'
C
iP
NegP
i'
i
IP
Note that the fronted negative is like the focus in its interaction with the topic: the
topic precedes the fronted negative:
(122) a I said that, in this town, never have I been so embarrassed
b *I said that never have, in this town, I been so embarrassed
We can account for the distribution of the topic if we suggest that it adjoins to the
highest phrase that it can. In main clauses the topic can adjoin to the CP and therefore
as this is the highest phrase, this is where the topic will adjoin. In embedded contexts,
something prevents the topic from adjoining so high up. Perhaps there has to be a
274
Other fronting movements
relationship between the selecting verb and the head of its complement clause, i.e. the
complementiser, that the presence of the topic interferes with. In this case then the
topic will have to adjoin lower down: to iP, if present, and if not, to IP.
The fronted negative is in complementary distribution with the focus:
(123) a *I said that under no circumstances would potatoes I store in this room
b *I said that potatoes under no circumstances would I store in this room
Once again, if we want a focus in such a sentence it must be indicated by stress alone
without the movement:
(124)
I said that under no circumstances would I store potatoes in this room
This complementary distribution seems more significant than that which holds
between the focus and the wh-element as both the focus and the fronted negative
clearly occupy very similar positions. We might therefore claim that both make use of
the same landing site: specifier of iP.
The difference however, between the fronted focus and the fronted negative is that
the latter induces inversion to ‘i’, while the former does not. Referring back to the
difference between wh-movement that triggers inversion and wh-movement that does
not, we proposed that inversion is triggered when there is no head to agree with. In
embedded interrogatives the complementiser position could be filled and hence there
will be no inversion. If we project these ideas on to the current situation, we conclude
that with focus the i head is filled by some abstract element but with negative fronting
the head position is unfilled. We know that the negative head is a verbal element of the
category ‘v’ and so it cannot be generated directly in i. The only way for the negative
head to get to i is for it to move and yet we know that the negative is not able to move
to I to support the inflection in English, as it is in Finnish. Thus, there is no way for the
negative head to get to i and hence when a negative element moves to the specifier of
iP it will induce inversion to provide a head for it.
With a fronted focus, on the other hand, there must be an abstract head capable of
being generated in i with which the focus can agree. Let us call this head Foc. In other
languages this element may appear as a morpheme on the focussed element,
supporting the assumption here, as in the following Korean example:
(125)
Mary-ka John-man-ul saranghanta
Mary-nom John-Foc-acc love
‘John Mary loves.’
This head apparently cannot enter into an agreement relationship with the fronted
negative and so, presumably, it must be inherently positive. Given that nothing
prevents it from appearing when there is a focus, it will be present whenever there is a
fronted focus and hence inversion will be unnecessary. The structures we end up with
are:
275
Chapter 7 - Complementiser Phrases
(126) a
CP
C'
C
e
iP
AP
i'
never i
e
IP
DP
we
I'
I
have
b
VP
played so well
CP
C'
C
e
iP
DP
Bert
i'
i
IP
Foc DP
she
I'
I
VP
is
marrying
With these structures in place we now have room for all fronted elements in
English including wh-elements, topics, foci and fronted negatives and the inverted
auxiliaries that accompany them. We have not accounted for why there is
complementary distribution between elements that move to spec iP and wh-elements.
This may be a semantic incompatibility rather than a matter of syntactic distribution,
as suggested by the fact that this seems more of a universal restriction rather than
something restricted to English. Alternatively, it may have something to do with the
locality of movement in that if iP is present a wh-element is prevented from moving to
spec CP. I will not attempt to sort these issues out here.
276
Conclusion
6
Conclusion
In this chapter we have introduced the final part of the clause structure of the English
sentence. This part of the structure, built on top of the IP serves a number of purposes,
but collectively seems to be to do with the syntactic arrangement of operators of one
type or another. With wh-movement, both in interrogative clauses and relative clauses,
the wh-element is an operator with either quantifier-like or anaphoric function. The
interpretation of this element is dependent on movement which has a dual role, both to
mark the clause as having a special interpretation (as an interrogative or relative) and
to establish a relationship between that interpretation and a position in the clause itself.
Hence, questions can be seen to be ‘about’ the subject or the clause, etc. and relatives
can relate the modified noun to the object of the clause, etc. Focus and negative
fronting may also have a similar function in that their interpretation is quantifier-like.
Topicalisation, although not quantificational, may be seen as anaphoric in that the
topic refers to some element established in the discourse.
In connection with the movements of these operator-like elements, we also have
seen a series of head movements to various positions. These appear to provide the
operators with something to agree with and so they play a supporting role in allowing
the operators to fulfil their function.
With the end of this chapter we come to the end of the clause, so to speak. In the
next chapter we will concentrate on the relationship between elements in different
clauses and in particular across non-finite clauses which appear to more readily allow
such relationships to be established.
Check Questions
1
What are complementizers in English? How is it possible to argue that
complementizers act like heads?
2
Which type of clauses must be introduced by a complementizer and which need
not, i.e. what is the distribution of overt versus covert complementizers?
3
What are canonical structural realisation principles?
4
What runs counter to the claim that complementizers determine the force of a
clause?
5
What does it suggest that complementizers and inverted auxiliaries are in
complementary distribution?
6
What motivates wh-movement?
7
What are operators?
8
How can A-movement and A-bar movement be distinguished?
9
What are the two sets of assumptions proposed to underlie I-to-C movement?
10
How can it be shown that ’whether’ is not a complementizer?
11
What is the Doubly-Filled COMP Filter?
277
Chapter 7 - Complementiser Phrases
12
List some general ordering restrictions affecting certain elements in a clause.
13
What are the differences and similarities between restrictive and non-restrictive
relative clauses? How are these clauses analysed?
14
Discuss the differences between relative and interrogative pronouns.
15
How can it be shown that ’that’ is not a relative pronoun?
16
Define and exemplify pied-piping and preposition stranding.
17
What are the different types of relative clauses?
18
Define the following terms: topic, focus, comment.
19
What is the order of wh-elements and topicalised elements in matrix and
embedded contexts?
20
What are the three types of movement placing an element to the front of the
clause?
21
How can it be shown that the negative element in negative fronting does not
occupy the [Spec, CP] position?
22
What is the distribution of the following elements relative to each other: topic,
fronted negative, focus?
Test your knowledge
Exercise 1
What is the case of the DPs in the following sentences? Determine the Case assigner,
too.
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
g
It is time for me to close the door.
Jane appears to have stolen the keys.
The professor expects me to write an essay for her.
Jack has not been to America since January.
For Kim to understand this exercise is extremely difficult.
I expect Peter to visit his family.
The thief seems to be arrested.
Exercise 2
What kind of movements can be identified in the following sentences? Identify the
traces in the S-structures and give the D-structure of the sentences as well.
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
The letter was sent to the government last night.
Interesting books, I often read.
Can you lend me your umbrella?
In this garden, you can have a rest.
Has John ever been caught in the act?
A proposal has been handed in for the educational reform.
278
Test your knowledge
Exercise 3
What types of adverbs (i. e. sentential or VP adverb) can be found in the following
sentences?
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
g
Cleverly, Agatha answered the question.
Ron hardly goes to the cinema.
She suddenly burst into tears.
Agatha cleverly answered the question.
They certainly went to America for holiday.
The student has rewritten her thesis thoroughly.
The king often visited the neighbouring countries.
Exercise 4
What type of movement is going on in the following sentences? Give their tree
diagram as well.
(1)
a Who lives in London?
b Sam seems to sleep.
c Who appears to adore Anne?
Exercise 5
Thematic role assignment must be local. A -role assigning head must be in a local
configuration to the DP it assigns -role to. Explain how the underlined nominal
constituents can get -role.
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
Which book did John buy?
Short stories, I don’t like.
Short stories I expect nobody likes.
Mary seems to hate big cats.
I know the researcher who is believed to have invented cold fusion.
Exercise 6
Identify the different types of movement in the following sentences. What moves from
which position to which position that is what is the extraction site and what is the
landing site for the moved elements?
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
The diamonds were stolen yesterday.
Will you meet Mary in Paris?
Linguistic textbooks, I never read.
I won’t trust you.
Who does John like?
Never have I been treated so rudely.
279
Chapter 7 - Complementiser Phrases
Exercise 7
Identify the head and the foot of each chain in the sentences below.
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
Jane has been taken to hospital.
Everybody seems to speak two languages here.
Have you ever been to Paris?
What did you give to John?
In the park, John met Mary.
Exercise 8
Consider the contrast between sentences (a) and (b) in the following sentences. How
do you account for the differences in grammaticality?
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
a.
b.
a.
b.
a.
b.
a.
b.
*Up the letter John tore.
The letter, John tore up.
*Whose did you meet mother?
Whose mother did you meet?
*Friends were financially supported of the President.
Friends of the President were financially supported.
*The fact surprised everybody that he had resigned.
The fact that he had resigned surprised everybody.
Exercise 9
Given passivisation, subject–auxiliary inversion, topicalisation, extraposition and
preposing, which movement types can be spotted in the sentences below? Classify
them according to whether they qualify as substitution or adjunction.
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
g
h
i
j
It surprised everyone that they left early.
What is the meaning and purpose of life?
Is there any more coffee?
Him, I don’t like.
In the afternoon, they went fishing.
Captain Link was examined by the vet.
A man appeared in the doorway with flowers in his hand.
Mary, Peter often meets.
Mary is said to be beautiful
Yesterday, they paid their electricity bill.
280
Chapter 8
The Syntax of Non-Finite Clauses
In this chapter we will concentrate on the non-finite clause and investigate syntactic
phenomena that are exclusive to it. There is a surprising amount of this and the nonfinite clause is a far more varied structure than its finite counterpart. Much of this
variation concerns the subject which in many cases has connections with the verb
selecting the non-finite clause as its complement. Thus the boundaries of the clause
become blurred at this point. Most of the structures we will look at in this chapter are
infinitives, which as they contain both a tensed element and a complementiser have the
kind of structure we have been discussing over the previous chapters. Not all of them,
however, have identical structures and the amount of functional structure they contain
is one of the axes of variation between non-finite clauses. We end the chapter with a
look at probably one of the strangest constructions in English, the gerund. This has
been claimed to have a status somewhat similar to a mythical beast, being half one
creature, half another. The gerund displays certain properties of clauses but also
certain properties of DPs. This makes it a very interesting structure to analyse from the
X-bar perspective which claims that the properties of a structure come from its head.
1
Exceptional and Small Clauses
1.1
Clauses without CP
A typical structure for the clause that we have so far argued for, without any
elaboration, is:
(1)
CP
C'
C
complementiser
IP
DP
I'
subject
I
vP
agreement
v'
v
tense
VP
verb …
This seems to fit both finite and non-finite types of clause:
Chapter 8 - The Syntax of Non-Finite Clauses
(2)
a [CP that [IP the sheriff will [vP ∅ [VP shoot the outlaw]]]]
b [CP for [IP the sheriff ∅ [vP to [VP shoot the outlaw]]]]
But while there certainly are non-finite clauses which fit this pattern, there are others
for which bits and pieces of the structure appear to be missing. In some cases the
complementiser is not only absent, but obligatorily so, which is very unlike the finite
clause which has an optional complementiser:
(3)
a I said [(that) the sheriff’s forming a posse]
b I believe [(*for) the sheriff to be forming a posse]
In other non-finite clauses the subject appears to be obligatorily absent, again
contrasting with the finite clause which always has a subject:
(4)
a the sheriff tried [(*him) to ride the horse]
b the sheriff said [*(he) rode a horse]
There are even some cases of non-finite clause where not only is there no evidence of
a complementiser or an inflection, but there isn’t even a verb:
(5)
I consider [(*for) the cowboy (*to) tough]
What is the best analysis for these clauses with obligatorily missing parts? We will
argue in this chapter that the missing elements are mostly not just null, but absent. We
will start by considering those clauses with missing complementisers.
Compare the following sentences:
(6)
a the sheriff believes [that they are hiding in the hills]
b the sheriff believes [them to be hiding in the hills]
One difference between the finite embedded clause and the non-finite one is that the
former has a nominative subject and the latter an accusative one. We saw in chapter 5
how the finite inflection is responsible for assigning nominative Case to its specifier. A
relevant question is where the accusative Case of the non-finite subject comes from:
does the non-finite inflection assign accusative Case? The answer would appear to be
no because not all infinitival clauses can have an accusative subject, and if the nonfinite inflection were able to assign accusative Case, we would expect an accusative
subject to be a permanent possibility, just like the nominative subject is always
possible in a finite clause:
(7)
a *the outlaw attempted [him to escape]
b *the cowboy hoped [him to brand the cow]
c *the town relied [him to keep law and order]
Moreover, in some non-finite clauses the subjects Case is dependent on the
complementiser rather than the inflection. This can be seen by the fact that without the
complementiser an accusative subject cannot appear:
(8)
a [for him to shoot the sheriff] would not be wise
b [to shoot the sheriff] would not be wise
c *[him to shoot the sheriff] would not be wise
282
Exceptional and Small Clauses
So it appears that the non-finite inflection does not have the capacity to assign Case as
if it could, (8c) would be grammatical.
But if this is true, where does the accusative Case on the subject of the non-finite
clause in (6b) come from? We know that accusative Case is assigned by light verbs in
other situations, could the accusative Case come from a light verb in this structure?
Consider the structure in more detail. The verb believe has an experiencer subject and
hence there is a light verb which assigns this -role. The clausal complement of the
verb sits in its specifier position and the verb will move to support the light verb:
(9)
vP
DP
the outlaws
v'
v
VP
believe1-e
CP
V'
C'
V
C
accusative
e
IP
DP
him
t1
I'
I
vP
v'
v
to
VP
be on their trail
While in principle this might be possible, it does place the Case assigning light verb
and the DP to which it assigns Case in rather distant positions. This would not be
advisable as on the whole it appears that Case assignment is a local affair and thus
there are limitations on how distant the Case assigner and assignee can be. In
particular, if the situation pictured in (9) were accurate, we would expect any light
verb to be able to assign an accusative case to the subject of a clause appearing in the
specifier of its VP complement. But this is not so:
(10) a *the outlaws think1-e [VP [CP him is on their trail] t1]
b *the outlaws hope1-e [VP [CP him to be on the wrong trail] t1]
Note that this has nothing to do with the finiteness of the complement clause, (10b) is
just as ungrammatical as (10a) and the latter involves a non-finite clause. There is
clearly a difference between verbs like believe which can take non-finite complement
clauses with accusative subjects and verbs like hope which cannot. One observable
283
Chapter 8 - The Syntax of Non-Finite Clauses
difference between them is that hope can take a non-finite complement clause with a
complementiser, but believe cannot:
(11) a the bartender hoped [for the sheriff to stop the fight]
b *the bartender believed [for the sheriff to be a coward]
One assumption that might solve a number of problems might be that with believe
there is no CP, just an IP. This would account for the missing complementiser with
such verbs, it would also place the subject of the non-finite clause a little nearer to the
Case assigning light verb:
(12)
vP
DP
v'
the outlaws
v
VP
believe1-e
accusative
IP
DP
him
V'
I'
I
V
vP
t1
v'
v
to
VP
be on their trail
Recall from chapter 6 that the notion of government, which is relevant for Case
assignment, imposes a restriction on what can be governed in that an element can
govern ‘up to a point’. We left undefined what that point was in our previous
discussion, but now it is important to be more precise. There are a number of ways that
we might think of doing this, but one of the most intuitive is to suppose that certain
nodes in a tree form barriers to government in that they ‘protect’ their constituents
from government from the outside. Thus a governor may be able to govern up to a
barrier, but not through a barrier. We know that a light verb can assign Case to the
specifier of the VP, as this is the normal configuration in which accusative Case is
assigned:
(13)
vP
v'
v
e
VP
DP
V'
284
Exceptional and Small Clauses
This means that the VP doesn’t act as a barrier to government. From observations
given in (8) above, we can conclude that the for complementiser assigns Case to the
subject of its non-finite clause complement, as the DP subject is only grammatical
when the complementiser is present. If this is so, then IP does not count as a barrier
either as the complementiser can Case mark the subject through the IP:
(14)
CP
C'
C
for DP
IP
I'
But if neither VP nor IP is a barrier to government, then we expect that the Case
marking relationship depicted in (12) should be perfectly possible. There is no reason
however to believe that any element can assign Case from outside a CP to any element
within the CP and indeed it is a standard assumption that CP does count as a barrier to
government. This supports the assumption that the non-finite complement clause of a
verb like believe has an IP status and is not a full CP.
Given that clauses are normally CPs, a clause which only has an IP status is an
exception. Hence, such clauses are known as exceptional clauses and the verbs which
take exceptional clauses as their complements, i.e. verbs like believe, are known as
exceptional verbs. Finally the process of assigning Case to the subject of an
exceptional clause is sometimes called Exceptional Case Marking, or ECM for short.
Below are a few examples of exceptional verbs:
(15) a
b
c
d
e
the sheriff expects [the outlaws to be in hiding]
the horse supposed [the sheriff to be lost]
the deputy assumed [his horse to be outside the saloon]
the bartender understood [the horse to be brighter than the deputy]
the law requires [the sheriff to arrest the outlaws]
In all these cases the complementiser for would be ungrammatical if used to
introduce the non-finite complement. All of these verbs also may have a finite
complement clause, which is obviously a CP as the that complementiser can appear:
(16) a
b
c
d
e
the sheriff expects [that the outlaws are in hiding]
the horse supposed [that the sheriff was lost]
the deputy assumed [that his horse was outside the saloon]
the bartender understood [that the horse was brighter than the deputy]
the law requires [that the sheriff should arrest the outlaws]
Thus it is only the non-finite complement of exceptional verbs that are IPs.
Another observation that supports the claim that the subject of the exceptional
clause is Case marked by the light verb of the exceptional verb is that these verbs can
undergo passivisation. Recall that in English it is only verbs which have a Case
assigning light verb that can undergo the process, which we described as the
285
Chapter 8 - The Syntax of Non-Finite Clauses
replacement of the agentive or experiencer light verb with the passive morpheme
which neither assigns a -role to the subject position nor assigns Case to the specifier
of the VP. Consider what happens when an exceptional verb is passivised:
(17) a
b
c
d
e
the outlaws1 were expect-ed [t1 to be in hiding]
the sheriff1 was suppose-ed [t1 to be lost]
his horse1 was assume-ed [t1 to be outside the saloon]
the horse1 was understood [t1 to be brighter than the deputy]
the sheriff1 was requir-ed [t1 to arrest the outlaws]
The subject of the non-finite clause moves to the subject position of the passive
verb just like the object of a passivised verb does. Given that we argued that the
motivation for the object’s movement was to get Case, having been robbed of its light
verb Case assigner, it is reasonable to assume that this is exactly what is going on with
the movement of the subject of the exceptional clause.
Let us take a look at this analysis in more detail. Suppose we take a structure
similar to (12) and replace the light verb with the passive morpheme:
(18)
vP
v'
v
VP
believe1-e
IP
DP
him
V'
I'
I
V
vP
t1
v'
v
to
VP
be on their trail
The two immediate consequences of this are that the experiencer -role fails to be
assigned, leaving the specifier position of the vP empty, and the subject of the
exceptional clause is left without Case given our assumption that the passive
morpheme is not a Case assigner and neither is the non-finite inflection. Thus if the
subject were to stay in this position, it would violate the Case Filter, which demands
all DPs to receive Case, and hence the sentence would be ungrammatical, which it is:
(19)
*it was believed [him to be on their trail]
Note that if the complement clause were finite, there would be no problem:
(20)
it was believed [that he was on their trail]
286
Exceptional and Small Clauses
In this case the subject of the complement clause gets nominative Case from its own
finite inflection and so the replacement of the light verb with the passive morpheme
makes no difference.
In conclusion, we can see that there is a class of verbs which subcategorise for
exceptional non-finite IP complements. These clauses have subjects which are dependent
on the light verb of the governing verb for their Case. Therefore these subjects bear
accusative Case. Moreover these subjects are affected by the passivisation of the
governing verb which robs them of their Case assigner. Hence they will undergo a
movement to the subject position of the higher clause, just like the object of the
passive verb does.
Before closing this section, we will point out that there are some verbs which might
look like exceptional verbs, but which are probably not. The most notorious of these is
the verb want. This verb appears in structures that are remarkably similar to those
involving exceptional verbs:
(21)
the mayor wants [the sheriff to support him]
Here we have a complement clause which is non-finite and has an overt subject. The
fact that this subject can be replaced by an accusative pronoun him shows that the
subject is in an accusative position, just like we get with an exceptional verb.
However, unlike exceptional verbs, this verb cannot passivise:
(22)
*the deputy1 was wanted [t1 to ride the horse]
If this were an exceptional verb, there would be no problem in passivising it. In this
way, want behaves like a non-exceptional verb such as hope:
(23)
*the outlaws1 were hoped [t1 to be caught]
Presumably the reason why the subject cannot move out of the non-finite clause is
because this is a CP, not an IP. Besides, passivising the verb would not affect the nonfinite clause’s subject as this does not get its Case from the light verb, but from the
complementiser. But if this is the reason why want does not passivise, then we must
conclude that it has a CP complement, not an IP, i.e. it is not an exceptional verb. If the
complement of want is a CP, then its subject must get its Case from a complementiser,
but there is no complementiser visible in (21). However, the complementiser can be
made visible by separating the clause from the verb by an intervening adjunct:
(24)
the mayor wants very much [for the sheriff to support him]
As can be predicted, the same thing does not happen with exceptional verbs, whose
complements are not CPs in the first place:
(25) a *the sheriff believes very much [for the bandits to have robbed the bank]
b *the horse expects very much [for the deputy to feed it]
Thus we may conclude that want takes a CP complement with a complementiser that
may be null. Why the complementiser is null when the clause is adjacent to the verb
and why it becomes overt when it is not, is a complete mystery.
287
Chapter 8 - The Syntax of Non-Finite Clauses
1.2
Clauses without IP
If some clauses can lack CPs, the question naturally arises as to how small clauses can
get. Recall that clauses are structured in various layers, each of which adds something
to the interpretation of the whole clause. But the basic proposition is expressed by a
predicate and its arguments. As the predicate does not have to be a verb a basic
proposition can be expressed with no verbal element at all:
(26) a Tim tall
b Graham in the garden
c Steven a student
– Tim is tall
– Graham is in the garden
– Steven is a student
Both expressions on either side of the hyphen state exactly the same relationships
between the predicate and its arguments. The difference is that while the expressions
on the right are grammatical English sentences, those on the left are not. Or at least,
one might think so. But consider the following:
(27) a I consider [Tim tall]
b I require [Graham in the garden]
c I believed [Steven a student]
Given that these ‘basic propositions’ can be replaced by a full clause with virtually
the same meaning, it seems that we should view them as being clauses of one sort or
another:
(28) a I consider [that Tim is tall]
b I require [Graham to be in the garden]
c I believed [that Steven is a student]
But what kind of a clause lacks a VP, let alone a CP or an IP? Moreover, what is the
categorial status of such clauses?
One of the earliest suggestions, which still has a certain appeal, is that these clauses
are simply phrases with subjects (Stowell 1983, who termed these constructions Small
Clauses):
(29) a I consider [AP Tim [A'tall]]
b I require [PP Graham [P'in the garden]]
c I believed [DP Steven [D'a student]]
One argument which favours this analysis is that different verbs take different types of
small clauses as their complements and what determines the type of the clause is the
head of the predicate part of the clause following the subject. The verb consider, for
example, takes an AP type and a DP type of small clause, but not a PP type:
(30) a I consider [DP him a liar]
b I consider [AP him untrustworthy]
c *I consider [PP him in the garden]
The verb, order, on the other hand, takes PP types, but not AP or DP types:
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Exceptional and Small Clauses
(31) a I ordered [PP him out of the room]
b *I ordered [DP him a fool]
c *I ordered [AP him foolish]
The fact that heads subcategorise for their complements in terms of the complement’s
category would seem to suggest that these clauses do indeed differ in terms of their
categorial statuses.
Opponents of this view, however, tend to point to the fact that the predicate part of
the small clause seems to have the status of a phrase and if the whole clause is the
phrase with the subject in its specifier position, the predicate should have the status of
an X'
:
(32)
AP
DP
A'
him A
PP
certain of his position
One piece of evidence that the predicate has full phrasal status comes from the fact that
they seem to be able to move to phrasal positions, without taking the subject along
with them:
(33)
[how certain of his position]1 do you consider him t1 ?
Within the confines of X-bar theory, one way to get both the subject and the
predicate of the clause to be phrases, is to posit a head between them of which the
subject is the specifier and the predicate the complement:
(34)
XP
DP
him
X'
X
e
AP
certain of his position
But this proposal claims that the head of the predicate is no longer the head of the
whole clause and hence it no longer determines the categorial status of the clause. It
would be difficult therefore to account for the observations of (30) and (31) where
different verbs subcategorise for different small clauses in terms of the category of the
predicate. A separate question concerning (34) is what the status of X is. Haegeman
(1994) argues that this head is an agreement element, i.e. what we have been calling I.
Thus small clauses, according to Haegeman, are IPs (AgrPs in her terminology):
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Chapter 8 - The Syntax of Non-Finite Clauses
(35)
IP
DP
I'
I
XP
Besides the problem that under this analysis the head of the predicate is not the head of
the clause, a major problem facing it is that it forces us to assume that the inflection
can subcategorise for a whole set of different complements, ranging from DPs to PPs.
But functional heads do not normally display this amount of freedom in their
complement taking abilities. In all the cases we have considered so far, the agreement
head selects for a v/VP complement, i.e. complements with [–N, +V] features. But if I
can select for DP, AP and PP complements as well, i.e. [+F, +N, –V], [–F, +N, +V]
and [–F, –N, –V], this must mean that it imposes no categorial conditions on its
complement whatsoever. This is not true as bare NPs, non-thematic vPs, IPs and CPs
cannot act as predicates inside small clauses:
(36) a
b
c
d
*I consider him [NP student]
*I thought him [vP have gone]
*I ordered him [IP will leave]
*I consider him [CP that he will leave]
Stowell has countered the argument that the predicate part of the small clause is a
full phrase by claiming that it only seems to behave like a phrase as the subject moves
out of the subject position before the predicate itself moves. Thus the derivation of a
sentence like (37) would follow the steps indicated below:
(37) a you consider [him how intelligent]
b you consider him1 [t1 how intelligent]
c [t1 how intelligent]2 do you consider him1 t2
The debate continues and we will not attempt to put an end to it here. Stowell’s
analysis does seem to be able to address the problematic issue of the selection of small
clause complements, but his analysis of how the predicate can appear to behave like a
phrase rests on the validity of the suggested subject movement, and it is not at all clear
that there is a well motivated position for the subject to move to, even assuming a
more articulated structure of the vP.
2
Raising and Control
Another aspect of non-finite clauses that we have noted without much comment is
their ability to have missing subjects. This is surprising in more sense than one. Finite
clauses in English never have missing subjects:
(38) a *(this) is a mouse
b *(he) has gone
This is so even in cases where there is no semantic subject:
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Raising and Control
(39)
evidently *(it) seems that the electrician found a mouse
The verb seem is one which takes a clausal complement but it has no thematic subject.
In this case the subject position is filled by a meaningless it, known as a pleonastic
subject. This subject, like all subjects in English finite clauses is obligatory. This
suggests that the obligatory nature of the subject is more than a semantic condition that
arguments need to be realised. In fact there seems to be a grammatical requirement that
clauses have subjects. This condition has been called the Extended Projection
Principle (EPP). Recall from chapter 3 that the Projection Principle ensures that the
lexical properties of heads are projected into the structure at all levels of syntactic
representation. Thus if a verb requires an object as a lexical property, it must have an
object at D-structure and at S-structure. The Extended Projection Principle claims not
only this, but that the subject position must be present at all levels of structural
representation and moreover that it must be filled by something at S-structure. Of
course, under usual circumstances there will be something in the subject position at Sstructure as an argument of the verb will move there for Case reasons. But even if
there is no argument inside the VP in need of Case, the subject position must be filled
by the insertion of a pleonastic subject:
(40)
D-structure:
S-structure:
[IP e may appear [that he left]]
[IP it may appear [that he left]]
But non-finite clauses are different as they do not always have subjects:
(41) a he appears [- to have left]
b they want [- to leave]
c [- to leave now] would be rude
How are these clauses able to escape the EPP? Note that it would in fact be
ungrammatical to fill these positions with a pleonastic subject:
(42) a *he appears [it to have left]
b *they want [it to leave]
c *[it to leave now] would be rude
(with it being non-referential)
Recall also that the -Criterion requires that -roles be assigned to arguments.
While some verbs may take implicit arguments which are not actually present in the
structure but are ‘understood’ at a semantic level, these arguments are always
complements and never subjects:
(43) a he is eating a sandwich
b he is eating
c *is eating a sandwich
How are the non-finite clauses in (41) able to satisfy the -Criterion if there is no
subject to assign the -role to?
The answer to all these problems is that the non-finite clauses in question do not
lack subjects at all, they simply do not have pronounced subjects. One argument in
favour of this assumption is that in different non-finite clauses there may be different
types of unpronounced subjects. The argument is that one absent subject ought to be
exactly the same as another absent subject and only if they are present could they
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Chapter 8 - The Syntax of Non-Finite Clauses
possibly differ from each other. To see how these subjects differ from each other,
consider the following facts:
(44) a Tim seems [ - to be tall]
b Robin wants [ - to be rich]
(45) a it seems [Tim is tall]
b *it wants [Robin is rich]
(46) a *Tim seems [Tina is tall]
b Robin wants [Rupert to be rich]
(47) a *[ - to be tall] is what Tim seems
b [ - to be rich] is what Robin wants
(48) a *it seemed to Larry [ - to look after himself]
b we persuaded Larry [ - to look after himself]
(49) a *Peter seemed [that [ - to be a pilot] would be exciting]
b Peter thinks [that [ - to be a pilot] would be exciting]
Consider the two sentences in (44). They both appear to have missing subjects and
in other ways they seem to be similar. However, even at this point we can see that the
two missing subjects are not entirely equivalent. In (44a), the missing subject is
referentially identical to the subject of the higher clause, Tim. This subject is not
semantically related to the verb of its own clause: Tim is not the one doing the
seeming. We have already seen that verbs like seem do not have a subject of their own
and often have pleonastic subjects, as we see in (45a). Thus the missing subject of the
non-finite clause and the overt subject of the higher clause share a single -role
assigned from the lower predicate tall. In other words, they represent a single
argument. This contrasts starkly with the situation in (44b), where the missing subject
and the overt subject of the higher clause bare completely different -roles: Robin is
the thematic subject of want and the missing subject is the thematic subject of rich.
The two subjects are coreferential, but they are independent elements in exactly the
same way that a pronoun and its referent are independent elements:
(50)
Henry thinks [he is happy]
In this case, Henry is the one doing the thinking and he is the one who is happy. If the
pronoun refers to Henry then the interpretation is ultimately that Henry is happy (or at
least this is what he thinks). But if the pronoun refers to someone else, then the
interpretation is not that Henry is happy. However, the two elements are independent,
regardless of what their referential properties are. The same is true of the overt subject
and the missing subject in (44b). (45b) demonstrates that there really are two
independent arguments in this construction as the subject of the higher predicate cannot
be spelled out as a pleonastic element. In contrast, this is exactly what is possible in
(45a), demonstrating that there really is only one argument here. The same point is made
the other way round in (46). In this case we see that with a verb like seem, a different
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Raising and Control
argument cannot be realised in the two different subject positions as there is only one role involved. A verb like want, on the other hand, can realise arguments overtly in both
subject positions as there are two independent -roles. So, one kind of missing subject
shares a -role with another element in the sentence while the other kind of missing
subject has a -role all of its own. The next three examples demonstrate that the two
different kinds of missing subject have different referential properties. The nonindependent type of missing subject which shares a -role with its antecedent, must be
lower in the structure than its antecedent. Hence it cannot be part of a structure which is
raised to a higher position and the ungrammaticality of (47a) follows. The independent
type of missing subject on the other hand can, under certain circumstances be higher in
the structure than its antecedent, hence the grammaticality of (47b). The contrast in (48)
again shows a difference in the referential properties of the two missing subjects. In
(48a) we see that it is impossible for the dependent missing subject to refer to an object:
they are always associated with subjects. In (48b) we have an independent missing
subject, it being the one who is doing the looking after. As we can see, it is capable of
referring to the object as the ultimate meaning is that Larry will be the one ‘looking after
himself’. Finally, (49) shows that the dependent type of missing subject cannot refer out
of the subject clause of another clause, where as the independent missing subject can.
Summarising, the dependent type of missing subject shares a -role with its
antecedent and is fairly restricted in its referential properties, always being below its
antecedent which is a subject in the immediately higher clause. The independent
missing subject has its own theta role and demonstrates far more flexible referential
properties. Its antecedent can be a subject or object, higher or lower, close by or more
distant, given the right circumstances. If the missing subjects in both cases were the
result of an absence rather than a presence of something unpronounced, it would be
rather difficult to account for these differences. If there really is something in these
positions, then the evidence suggests that there they come in different types which
have different properties.
Of course, the fact that the dependent missing subject shares a -role with its
antecedent can lead to only one conclusion, given the theory of -role assignment
discussed in chapter 2: the missing subject and its antecedent are a single argument. In
other words, this kind of phenomenon is the result of movement and the missing
subject is a trace:
(51)
D-structure
S-structure
e seems [Tim to be tall]
Tim1 seems [t1 to be tall]
In reality then, the subject is not ‘missing’, it has just moved. By the same conditions,
we cannot treat the independent missing subject as the result of movement: it bears a
-role different from its antecedent and so they do not represent a single argument, but
two different ones. Moreover, at D-structure these two arguments must also be in
different positions as different -roles are assigned to different positions at Dstructure. Hence we conclude that this kind of missing subject is present at D-structure.
As we see in (51), this is not true of the other ‘missing’ subject. Because this element
has many properties in common with a pronoun, i.e. it bears an independent -role but
can be referentially dependent on something else, it is often referred to as PRO.
In the next sections we will look at these two different elements individually.
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Chapter 8 - The Syntax of Non-Finite Clauses
2.1
Raising
As we have seen, with certain verbs a subject which is generated in one clause can
move into the subject position of a higher clause. This movement is known as raising
as the subject always moves from a lower clause to a higher one and never the other
way round. The conditions on raising are that the moved element must originate in a
non-finite clause and it must be the subject of that clause. Thus, we do not find raising
out of finite clauses or raising directly out of object positions:
(52) a The electrician1 seems [t1 to have found a mouse]
b *The electrician1 seems [t1 has found a mouse]
c *A mouse1 seems [the electrician to have found t1]
In a number of ways this is similar to the kinds of movements we have seen
previously which take a DP from one position and move it to a subject position, such
as the movement of the subject from the specifier of a VP or the movement of an
object of a passive or unaccusative verb. Those kinds of movements, we saw, were
motivated by the fact that the DP started off in a Caseless position and hence in order
to satisfy the Case filter it had to move into a Case position. The subject of a finite
clause is a Case position as this is where nominative Case is assigned to by the finite
inflection. In (52a) we see a DP that is moved into the subject of a finite clause, and so
it may be that this movement is also Case motivated. If this is so, we expect to find
that the position it moves from is a Caseless position. Is this prediction accurate?
Consider the relevant structure in a little more detail.
A first issue to decide on is whether the embedded clause has the status of a CP or
an IP. We saw in the previous section that some verbs select for IP non-finite
complement clauses while others do not. The question we need to answer, then, is
whether verbs like seem are exceptional verbs or not. There is reason to believe that
these verbs are exceptional, as they never take a non-finite complement with a for
complementiser:
(53) a *it seems [for the electrician to have found a mouse]
b *it appears [for the mouse to be dead]
A possible explanation for this fact could be that the clause is an IP and hence there is
no position for the complementiser. Let us assume this to be correct.
At D-structure the complement clause will sit in the specifier of the verb:
(54)
VP
IP
V'
the electrician to have found a mouse
V
seem
The verb will move from its original position to support some inflection, depending on
what is present. If there are aspectual morphemes, the lowest will be supported by the
verb, if not the verb will move to either the (null) tense, if there is a modal, or all the
way to the I position if there is a bound agreement morpheme as well:
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Raising and Control
(55) a … has seem1-ed [VP [IP the electrician to have found a mouse] t1]
b … will seem1-∅ [VP [IP the electrician to have found a mouse] t1]
c … seem1-ed [VP [IP the electrician to have found a mouse] t1]
It is important to realise that, as the verb has no subject of its own, there will be no
light verb to assign a -role to the subject. As we know, it is the light verb which is
responsible for assigning Case and hence as there is no light verb, there will be no
Case assigned. The subject of the embedded clause also cannot receive Case from
inside this clause as the inflection is non-finite and non-finite I does not assign Case.
Thus, we can conclude that, despite the exceptional status of the embedded clause, its
subject will not be assigned Case and if it remains in this position it will violate the
Case Filter. Raising this subject to the next clause satisfies the Case Filter as it can get
Case from the finite I of this clause:
(56)
IP
DP
I'
the electrician2
I
vP
seem1-s
v'
v
VP
t1
CP/IP
V'
t2 to have found a mouse
V
t1
Here, the verb first moves to the tense position, and then into the I to support the
bound tense and agreement morphemes. The subject in its D-structure position is
Caseless, so it moves into the vacant specifier of the IP where it is assigned nominative
Case.
Next, consider the restrictions on the movement shown in (52b) and (c). The
subject of the embedded clause cannot undergo raising if it is in a finite clause, or in an
object position. In both of these cases, the DP is sitting in a Case position, therefore
regardless of any other restriction, there would be little point in it moving to the
specifier of the higher clause as once it has satisfied the Case Filter, it does not need to
do so again. We might assume a kind of laziness to the system (some call it
‘economy’) such that if something doesn’t need to happen, it will not happen. If the
clause is finite and hence the subject gets nominative from the finite inflection, then
the higher subject position will be unfilled. It is under these circumstances that the EPP
will force the insertion of a pleonastic subject:
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Chapter 8 - The Syntax of Non-Finite Clauses
(57)
IP
DP
e
it
I'
I
vP
may
v'
v
VP
seem1-∅
CP
V'
that the mouse was electrocuted
V
t1
In the case that the clause is non-finite, although the object will not move out of its
Case position, the subject will of course need to get its Case by moving to the higher
subject position, as we saw in the examples above.
The properties of a verb that allow it to be involved in raising structures are quite
specific. First it must lack a light verb which is responsible for assigning a -role to
the subject and a Case within the VP. Without this light verb the subject position will
be vacant and hence available to be moved into. If a verb has such a light verb, it will
not be able to take part in raising structures for the simple reason that the subject
position will be filled already and moreover, if the lower subject cannot get Case from
within its own clause, it will be able to get it from the light verb. Second, it must take a
clausal complement. Without the clausal complement, the subject of this clause will
not be able to ‘raise’. Moreover, the complement clause must be capable of being nonfinite, given that raising only happens from non-finite clause subject position, for
reasons we have just discussed. A verb which has no subject of its own, but cannot
select for a non-finite clause will always have a pleonastic subject and will never be
involved in raising. A possible verb that fits this pattern is emerge:
(58) a it emerged [that the mouse was shocked]
b *the mouse1 emerged [t1 to be in shock]
Another structure which bears a remarkable similarity to raising structures
concerns the passive exceptional verb. From what we know about the properties of
exceptional verbs and the process of passivisation, it can be predicted that they will
behave very much like raising verbs. As we know, an exceptional verb can take a nonfinite IP complement. Normally there will be an accompanying light verb and this will
assign Case to the DP subject of the complement clause. When we passivise a verb, we
replace the light verb with the passive morpheme, which neither assigns a -role to the
subject, nor a Case to the complement. This, then, is the same set of properties that
raising verbs have. We can see that such verbs do indeed behave like raising verbs:
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Raising and Control
(59) a it was believed [CP that the electrician was scared of mice]
b the electrician1 was believed [IP t1 to be scared of mice]
When the exceptional verb has a finite complement, the subject of this clause will not
move as it gets Case from its own finite inflection, making movement unnecessary.
When the clause is non-finite however, its subject will not receive Case from the nonfinite I and moreover will not get it from the light verb of the exceptional verb as this
will have been exchanged for the passive morpheme. Thus movement will be
necessary:
(60)
IP
DP
the mouse2
I'
I
vP
was3
v'
v
vP
t3
v'
v
VP
believe1-ed
IP
V'
t2 to have croaked V
t1
Certain adjectives can also appear in raising structures. As adjectives do not assign
Case, if an adjective takes a non-finite complement, the subject of that complement
will not get Case and will therefore have to move. Furthermore, if the adjective does
not assign a -role to its subject, the subject position will be underlyingly vacant and
will therefore either need to be filled by a pleonastic element or by a DP moving into
it:
(61) a it is unlikely [that the mouse survived]
b the mouse1 is unlikely [t1 to have survived]
One more point can be made concerning raising and raising-like structures. As this
movement allows a DP to escape the confines of the clause that it originates in, we
might wonder how far that DP can move. The following datum seems to suggest that a
subject can be raised over quite a distance:
(62)
the builder1 seemed [to be unlikely [to be considered [t1 to be very skilled]]]
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Chapter 8 - The Syntax of Non-Finite Clauses
In this example, the subject starts off in the lowest clause as the subject of the adjective
skilled. It then moves out of three clauses to the subject position of the raising verb. In
principle, then, it might appear that there is no limit to how far a subject may raise.
However, it is interesting that in order for this to happen, each predicate between the
original clause and the final landing site of the raised subject must be either a raising
predicate or a passive verb and moreover each intervening clause must be non-finite
and have a vacant subject position. If any of these conditions is not upheld, the
sentence is ungrammatical:
(63)
*the builder1 seemed [that the electrician believed [t1 to be incompetent]]
The grammatical (62) raises the problem of how it can be grammatical with so
many clauses but only one visible subject. The EPP demands that all clauses have
subjects and so we might expect that this sentence ought to be ungrammatical. All
these problems can be solved if we assume that the subject does not move in one go,
but moves from clause to clause, stopping off in each subject position:
(64)
the builder1 seemed [t1 to be unlikely [t1 to be considered [t1 to be very skilled]]]
In this way, each clause is provided with a subject, the trace, and hence the EPP can be
satisfied. The ungrammaticality of (63) demonstrates that when a subject raises, it
cannot actually be moved too far. Looking at what is possible and what is not possible
with such movements, there is something similar about the restriction to the restriction
we have noted concerning head movement. Recall that he Head Movement Constraint
demands that heads do not move over the top of other heads. It appears that the
restriction on subject movement is that it cannot cross over the top of another subject.
A general way to express both these restrictions is to claim that a moving element
cannot move over the top of a like element. This principle, known as Relativized
Minimality, was introduced by Rizzi (1990) as a way of accounting for locality
conditions on movement. The following diagram might help to make clear how the
principle works:
(65)
X
Y
Z
where X, Y and Z are of the same type
What this depicts is a situation in which an element Z is moving to a position X over
the top of another element Y. Given the structure preserving nature of movement, X
and Z will be of the same type, i.e. both phrases or both heads, but if Y is of the same
type too, the then movement is not allowed. Thus, a head cannot move over a head and
a subject cannot move over a subject.
2.2
Control
Let us now turn to the other non-finite clause with an apparently missing subject, in
which there is in fact a phonologically empty pronoun. There are a number of
interesting points to be made about this element. The first is that although it is
obviously a DP, it has a much more limited distribution than normal DPs. The other
matters of interest concerning the empty pronoun PRO are the limitations on its
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Raising and Control
referential properties, as it does not appear to behave like other pronouns in this
respect. We will consider these points separately.
PRO can be found in the subject position of non-finite clauses:
(66) a we attempted [PRO to work the machine]
b they tried [PRO turning the wheel]
c I painted the ceiling [PRO balanced on a chair]
It does not ever appear in the subject position of a finite clause, the object position or
the object of a preposition:
(67) a *the message said [that PRO would self-destruct in five seconds]
b *I congratulated PRO
c *the guard spoke to PRO
Note that there is nothing semantically wrong with these sentences. As PRO is a
pronoun that refers to some other element in the sentence, the meaning of the
sentences in (67), were they grammatical, would be perfectly understandable:
(68) a the message said [that it would self-destruct in five seconds]
b I congratulated myself
c the guard spoke to himself
Why is it that PRO cannot appear in these positions? One relevant observation is
that these positions are those to which Case is assigned. The non-finite subject
positions, in which PRO is allowed, seem to be Caseless as overt DPs cannot appear
there and so presumably they violate the Case Filter:
(69) a *we attempted [Sid to work the machine]
b *they tried [Tony turning the wheel]
c *I painted the ceiling [Bob balanced on a chair]
If PRO must avoid Case positions, we predict that we should not be able to go in the
subject position of the non-finite complement of a exceptional verb, as this is a
position assigned Case by the light verb of the exceptional verb. This expectation is
indeed fulfilled:
(70) a *he believes [PRO to be rich]
b *I suppose [PRO to drive a Trabant]
Similarly, PRO will not be able to appear with a for complementiser, which we have
argued assigns Case to the subject position of the non-finite clause that it introduces:
(71) a *she hoped [for PRO to be on TV.]
b *we were anxious [for PRO not to be late]
In such cases, if the complementiser is absent, the sentence is grammatical:
(72) a she hoped [PRO to be on TV.]
b we were anxious [PRO not to be late]
So it seems that PRO cannot appear in Case positions and is therefore in
complementary distribution with overt DPs, which of course must sit in Case positions.
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Chapter 8 - The Syntax of Non-Finite Clauses
However, this conclusion is problematic both conceptually and empirically. On
conceptual grounds, it is odd to say the least that there should be a principle stating
that all DPs must have Case and then to find out that there is one DP that not only does
this not apply to, but exactly the opposite holds of it and it cannot have Case. The
empirical issue is that the assumption does not account completely for the distribution
of PRO as there are places which are not Case marked, and so could not support an
overt DP, but in which PRO cannot appear either. One such place is the subject
position of the non-finite complement clause of a raising verb or a passive verb:
(73) a *it seems [PRO to be rich]
b *it was believed [PRO to have gone]
One possible solution to both these problems would be to claim that PRO doesn’t
avoid Case positions per se, but has to sit in special Case positions which up to now
have been assumed not to be Case-marked, but in fact might be assigned a special
Case, applicable only for PRO. Chomsky and Lasnik (1993) proposed that PRO must
sit in special Case marked positions. They argue that the subjects of certain non-finite
clauses are not Caseless but that what they term ‘Null Case’ is assigned to them. Only
PRO can bear Null Case and Null Case is the only Case that PRO can bear. Thus PRO
will not be able to sit where overt DPs go as these will be Case marked with something
other than Null Case. Moreover no overt DP can sit in a position in which it would be
assigned Null Case as this is not ‘strong’ enough to satisfy the Case Filter. The good
thing about this assumption is that it predicts complementary distribution between
overt DPs and PRO but does not force us to assume that PRO can occupy any position
in which we cannot find an overt DP. From this perspective, then, PRO cannot sit in a
position to which no Case is assigned, as in (73).
So far, I have remained uncommitted about the status of the clause that contains
PRO: is it a CP or is it an IP? Under both assumptions that PRO cannot sit in Case
positions or that it can only sit in Null Case positions we have to ensure that the place
where it can be found is not assigned a full Case from an element outside the clause.
We have seen that as PRO cannot be the subject of an exceptional clause it must be
assumed that this is not possible. One way to ensure that nothing else can assign Case
to the place occupied by PRO is to assume that it is protected by a CP. Recall that a
governor can govern up to a CP, but not through it as CP acts as a barrier to
government. For this reason then, we will assume that all clauses containing a PRO
subject are CPs and not IPs.
Turning to the referential properties of PRO we find that this is quite complex. To
see how PRO behaves, we should first consider how other pronouns behave in terms of
reference. There are two types of referential pronouns which behave differently with
respect to each other. Compare the following:
(74) a Sue said Lucy likes her
b Sue said Lucy likes herself
In (74a) the pronoun her can either be taken as referring to Sue or someone not even
mentioned in the sentence. Note that it couldn’t possibly refer to Lucy. In contrast the
pronoun in (74b) can only refer to Lucy and cannot refer to someone not mentioned or
to Sue. We call the first kind of pronoun a pronominal and the second kind anaphors.
300
Raising and Control
It seems to work like this. An anaphor must have an antecedent within some domain,
say the clause, and cannot refer to anything outside of this, or indeed have no
antecedent at all. A pronominal, on the other hand, cannot have its antecedent within
the same domain, but may refer freely outside this domain. The situation is a little
more complex than this however, as there are restrictions on where the antecedent
must be in relation to the pronoun. For example, while an object anaphor can take the
subject as its antecedent, a subject anaphor cannot take the object as its antecedent:
(75) a the doctor healed himself
b *himself healed the doctor
In general, the antecedent has to be structurally above the pronoun. Let us call a
structurally superior antecedent a binder. The principles involved in determining the
distribution of pronouns can be stated as follows:
(76) a An anaphor must have a binder within the binding domain
b A pronominal cannot have a binder within the binding domain
This is a simplification and things are more complex than this and further
complications can be found if we try to define precisely what the binding domain is.
However, for our purposes it will suffice to know that there is a domain within which
an anaphor must have a binder and a pronominal cannot.
What kind of a pronoun is PRO: an anaphor or a pronominal? Interestingly, this is
not such a straightforward question to answer as PRO demonstrates properties of both
pronominals and anaphors and a number of properties that are unique to itself. One can
find in the literature claims that PRO is a pronominal, an anaphor or even both! One
observation is that PRO more than often must have an antecedent, a property that it
shares with anaphors. Thus, in the following PRO must be taken as referentially
dependent on the subject of the main clause and cannot be taken as referring to
someone not mentioned:
(77)
Eddy expects [CP PRO to arrive at noon]
In other contexts, however PRO can lack an antecedent altogether. In these cases, it
gets what is called arbitrary reference, a kind of generic reference similar to that of
the pronoun one:
(78)
[CP PRO to be] or [CP PRO not to be], that is the question
While this is similar to the behaviour of a pronominal, it is not entirely equivalent.
For one thing when a pronominal has no antecedent it still has a specific referent
determined by the discourse conditions (i.e. who or what is the topic of the conversation
or who or what is being indicated as the referent in non-linguistic ways such as
pointing, etc.). Moreover, pronominals are free to lack antecedents in general whereas
PRO can only lack an antecedent under specific circumstances. Basically, PRO can
lack an antecedent, and therefore have arbitrary reference when the sentence that PRO
is the subject of is itself a subject or when it is the complement of certain predicates:
(79) a [IP [CP PRO to leave now] would be rude]
b it was not known [CP how [IP PRO to solve the problem]]
c the audience were hard [CP PRO to satisfy]
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Chapter 8 - The Syntax of Non-Finite Clauses
However, even describing the conditions under which PRO may have arbitrary
reference is a complex business, let alone explaining why the language works like this.
Thus we will not delve too deeply into this issue. One point of interest is the fact that
in those instances where PRO may have arbitrary reference it seems that it has more
referential freedom in general in that it is possible for it to have an antecedent, and
therefore a more specific reference, and this antecedent may be in positions which are
not normally accessible for pronouns to take their reference from. For example,
consider the following:
(80)
I think [CP that [IP [CP PRO to leave now] would be difficult for you]]
There are a range of possible ways to interpret this sentence depending on who is taken
as the antecedent of PRO. The arbitrary reading is possible with the meaning that if
anyone were to leave this would make things difficult for you. On the other hand, the
sentence might mean that I am the one who could leave, and my leaving would make
things difficult for you. Finally, it could mean that you are the person considering
leaving and if this happens you will experience difficulties. All these cases involve
conditions which are not possible for PRO in other contexts. In the first case, PRO has
no antecedent, as already discussed. In the second the referent stands three clauses
above the clause of which PRO is the subject and PRO typically has to have its
antecedent in the next clause above it. Finally in the third possibility the antecedent is
not in a structurally superior position and so it does not even count as a binder. Due to
these observations, it has been claimed that in these circumstances PRO is free to refer
to any element, as long as the conditions for that element are also respected, e.g. PRO
would not be able to refer to a pronominal in a lower position in its own clause as this
would give the pronominal a binder within its binding domain, which is not allowed
for the pronominal.
Turning to those cases where PRO must have an antecedent, we find further
distinctions:
(81) a I asked him [CP PRO not to mess with the buttons on the flight control panel]
b I promised him [CP PRO to write every week]
In (81a) PRO has to be taken as coreferential with the object him and cannot refer to
the subject. In contrast (81b) has PRO referring to the subject, not to the object. This is
again very different from the referential conditions facing other pronouns, which
although they either must or cannot take an antecedent within the binding domain,
depending on whether they are an anaphor or a pronominal, are free to take any
possible antecedent within these confines:
(82) a the tailor showed the customer himself (in the mirror)
b Scott told Oats [that he should step outside for a short while]
While there may be more or less ‘natural’ readings for these sentences, which are
determined by pragmatic considerations, it is possible to think of contexts in which the
pronouns could refer to either the subject or the object in each case: perhaps the tailor
in (82a) is modelling a suit for the customer and wants to show the customer a certain
effect that can best be seen by looking in the mirror, for example. However there are
no contexts in which we could make the subject a possible antecedent for PRO in (81a)
302
The Gerund
or the object in (81b) as the referential possibilities in this case are grammatically and
not pragmatically determined. We call this property of PRO having to take its
reference from one place or another control. Specifically, (81a) involves object
control while (81b) involves subject control. It seems that what determines the
control properties of PRO is the governing verbs: ask is an object control verb while
promise is a subject control verb. Obviously when there is no object, subject control is
the only possibility. When there is an object, overwhelmingly verbs tend to be object
control and only a very small number of verbs behave like promise and have an object
and yet control from the subject.
Again, here we have only just scratched the surface of some very complicated
phenomena, a lot of which remains mysterious to this day. As I have no contribution to
make to this area we will leave the topic at this point.
3
The Gerund
Finally in this book, we will touch on what is probably one of the oddest constructions
in the English language: the gerund. It is odd because, like some mythical beast it
seems to be half one animal and half another. In other respects, it is like another
mythical beast, having more than one head! Even from a morphological point of view
it is difficult to categorise the morpheme involved: ing.
The gerund from one perspective is a kind of non-finite clause inasmuch as it
expresses something which is typically related to clauses, i.e. a proposition, and can
contain elements such as aspectual morphemes which are related to some portion of
the clause while excluding elements of finiteness such as tense and agreement
(including modals). From another perspective the gerund is a nominal form and many
of its properties are those of standard DPs. Thus, it is something which oscillates
between clause and DP status.
Let us consider an example:
(83)
the doctors were worried by [the patient’s refusing the medicine]
Here we see a verb refuse in its ing form. This form is used in a number of contexts
which should be separated. Obviously it is the form used to express continuous aspect,
as in he is running. It may also be used to form an adjective from a verb, as in his
smiling face. Whether or not these are connected or totally distinct morphemes is an
issue we will not attempt to fathom and we will concentrate only on the use of this
morpheme in the gerund. In the gerund, the ing could be taken to be a ‘nominalising’
morpheme, turning a verb into a noun. Indeed, there are cases where this is exactly
what it is:
(84) a the building
b the painting of a landscape
In this case, the ing element behaves exactly like a noun syntactically. For example it
heads a phrase which can be the complement of a determiner. As we know determiners
take NP complements, so the ing element must have the category of a noun. A further
fact about nouns is that their DP complements cannot be assigned case, which is why
there is an of preposition inserted into the structure. With a verb, its light verb will
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Chapter 8 - The Syntax of Non-Finite Clauses
assign Case and hence there is no need to insert of. This can be clearly seen in the
different behaviours of verbs and their derived nominal counterparts:
(85) a observe the result
– *observe of the result
b observation of the result – *observation the result
As the ing element in (84b) has an of before its DP complement, we can assume that it
is a noun not a verb. Finally, these kind of ing elements are modified by adjectives
rather than adverbs again indicating their nominal status:
(86) a the enormous/*enormously building
b the intricate/*intricately painting of the landscape
It is usually accepted that such elements are simply derived nominals turned from verb
to noun by a lexical process before being entered into a structure.
If we now refer back to (83), we note that some of these features are missing. For a
start, there is no preposition before the DP complement. This suggests that this ing
element is not a noun, but a verb. This is confirmed by the fact that this element is
modified by an adverb, not an adjective:
(87)
the patient’s obstinately/*obstinate refusing the medicine
Verbs head VPs not NPs and so presumably the part of the structure headed by the ing
element is a VP. This is where the problems begin. Although a determiner is not
possible with these elements:
(88)
*the refusing the medicine
As we see in (83) a possessor is allowed. Whatever the status of the possessive marker
‘’s’, possessors are elements which are confined to DP specifier position and hence the
whole construction would appear to be a DP. This is further confirmed by the
distribution facts concerning the construction. Note that the gerund in (83) serves as
the complement of a preposition. In general prepositions take DP complements and
they certainly do not take VP complements. Prepositions do not even easily take
clausal complements:
(89)
*they were worried about [that the patient refused the medicine]
There are a few prepositions which appear to be able to take IP complements (e.g.
since, before, after, etc.), but then it might be that these are kinds of complementisers
rather than prepositions.
The distributional evidence therefore favours the analysis of the gerund as a DP.
Hence we have the following structure:
304
The Gerund
(90)
DP
DP
D'
the patient’s D
VP
V'
V
DP
refusing the medicine
But this cannot be correct as determiners take NP complements not VP ones. It seems
that the structure needs to be ‘nominalised’ at a point above the verb, to allow it to
maintain its verbal properties, but below the VP so that the structure can function as
the complement of a determiner.
Let us consider the problem in more detail. One type of ing element behaves like a
pure noun in that it cannot Case mark its DP complement. Verbs Case mark their DP
complements via the light verb that accompanies them and thus presumably this light
verb is absent in the ing structure with the nominal head, but present with the verbal
ing head. One way to capture this would be to claim that ing is a nominal head that
takes a verbal complement of the v/VP type. As such it can enter into a structure at
various points: directly above the VP or above the vP headed by a light verb:
(91) a
NP
b
NP
N'
N
ing
N'
VP
N
DP
V'
the medicine
V
ing
vP
DP
v'
the patient v
refuse
e
VP
DP
V'
the medicine
V
refuse
A number of consequences follow from this analysis. First, in (91a) as there is no
light verb, the DP in the specifier will be Caseless and hence the preposition of will
have to be inserted to salvage the structure. The presence of the light verb in (91b)
renders this unnecessary as the DP will get Case in the normal way. More
interestingly, the subject is present in the structure in (91b) but not in (91a). This does
not mean that the subject cannot be introduced in (91a) as it is perfectly possible to
have a possessive argument introduced into the NP/DP structure under normal
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Chapter 8 - The Syntax of Non-Finite Clauses
circumstances, so there is no reason why it could not happen here. However, the point
is that, as is usually the case with nouns, this will be optional and therefore the
possessor/agent may or may not appear. When there is no possessor, there can be a
determiner and when there is a possessor there can be no determiner, as the two are in
complementary distribution:
(92) a the patient’s refusing of the medicine
b the refusing of the medicine
However, with the presence of the light verb in (91b), the agent is obligatory. As
usual, it will have to move to get Case and presumably the place it moves to is the
specifier of the DP, i.e. the genitive position. For this reason, a standard determiner
will not be possible with this kind of gerund:
(93)
*the refusing the medicine
The following datum seems to suggest that it is possible for there to be no agent
with these gerunds:
(94)
[refusing the medicine] is not a good idea
However, such gerunds are standardly assumed to have PRO subjects and hence the
subject position is not empty and we can account for why the determiner is impossible.
In such gerunds we might suppose that the ing morpheme is added to the structure
quite high, perhaps above the tense element. If we further assume that it is a non-finite
tense which is responsible for assigning the Null Case borne by PRO we can account
for why it is possible to have a PRO subject in a gerund.
Where the subject gets its accusative Case from in examples such as the following
is not an issue we will investigate:
(95)
[him refusing the medicine] upset the nurses
One last point will be made. The assumption that the nominalising ing can be
added to a verbal structure at various points accounts for the fact that gerunds can
contain aspectual material as well as verbs. We have argued that aspectual morphemes
are light verbs, heading vPs. As the ing head can take a vP complement, it is predicted
that aspectual morphemes can be included in gerunds. To some extent this seems to be
true:
(96) a [his having refused the medicine] was a problem
b [the medicine’s being refused] annoyed the doctors
c *[the patient’s being refusing the medicine] upset the other patients
The analysis of (96a) and (b) are fairly straightforward. In both cases the nominalising
ing is inserted above the relevant aspectual morpheme, taking the vP that it heads as a
complement. The verb will move to support the lower morpheme, i.e. the aspectual
which will leave ing unsupported. As it is a bound morpheme this will trigger the
insertion of an auxiliary to bind it. The choice of the auxiliary will, as usual, be
determined by the lower aspectual morpheme:
306
Conclusion
(97)
NP
N'
N
vP
ing
v'
have
v
en
vP
DP
v'
the patient v
VP
e
DP
V'
the medicine
V
refuse
(96c) is a mystery that has been noted for some time: why other aspectual and mood
morphemes can appear in the gerund but not the continuous one is something that very
few approaches can predict. Some have suggested that that the problem is
phonological: having two ing forms one following the other for some reason is a
problematic sequence. Others disagree and say that the restriction is semantically
based. I have nothing to contribute to the discussion and remain as puzzled as ever.
Once again we have scratched a few surfaces, though perhaps a little more
substantially this time. There is clearly still a lot more to be said and that could be the
subject for a whole new book. However we are at the end of the present book and so
this is not the place to embark on this venture.
4
Conclusion
In this chapter we have dealt with a number of phenomena concerning non-finite
clauses in English. On the whole, the interesting aspect of these constructions concerns
their subjects. We have seen various possibilities for empty subjects in non-finite
clauses, as with raising and control structures, and also exceptional accusative subjects
in other constructions as with exceptional and small clauses. The gerund offers
problems for analysis all of its own. By and large, we have offered analyses for all
these structures, but have left many issues undiscussed and have ignored many
alternative analyses. We might hope that this book has interested the reader
sufficiently for them to follow up what has been left out here in further reading and
research.
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Chapter 8 - The Syntax of Non-Finite Clauses
Check questions
1
What is the definition of government discussed in the chapter? What counts as a
barrier and what does not?
2
Explain and exemplify Exceptional Case Marking.
3
What are the different existing views on the status (structure) of Small Clauses?
4
Discuss the properties of unpronounced subjects.
5
What is raising? What motivates raising and what conditions apply to it? What
is the landing site of a raised subject? How does it move?
6
List case-motivated movement types.
7
When does a pleonastic subject appear in a structure?
8
What is PRO, how is it distributed and what are its referential properties?
9
What is control?
10
What is the difference between pronominals and anaphors?
11
How can a derived nominal be differentiated from a gerund?
Test your knowledge
Exercise 1
Identify the –ing affixed elements in the sentences below as (i) nouns; (ii) adjectives;
(iii) participles; (iv) expressing continuous aspect; (v) participles or (vi) gerunds.
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
g
h
i
j
k
l
m
n
o
p
q
r
s
t
She was reported missing.
They were found working in the garden.
We watched them being bundled into the police van.
Roughly speaking, all men are liars.
After filing a protest she resigned.
Having been late for the meeting, he went to a bar instead.
Being late for the meeting has changed his prospects for promotion.
She suggested waiting till dawn.
He didn’t envisage there being any danger.
Getting the equipment loaded was easy.
This time tomorrow they’ll be looking at the rising sun.
Having finished her lessons, she went home.
He was heard talking about having central heating put in.
He was pleased with his surroundings.
The woman going was in a hurry.
Peter saw Mary coming.
They caught him stealing.
The girl sitting in the corner was reading an interesting book.
He insisted on calling a doctor.
At the airport one can always see passengers rushing to catch their flights.
308
Test your knowledge
Exercise 2
Determine whether the following verbs have got finite or non-finite clausal
complements.
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
Bobby believes Betsy to be beautiful.
Terry tried to travel to Toronto.
Thomas thinks that Ron runs too fast.
Hetty hopes for Hugh to hug her.
Alan asked if Sam could stay longer.
Sam answered that he had to leave.
Now consider the following data. What conclusions can you draw concerning the
types of clausal complements?
g Bobby believes that Betsy is beautiful.
h Hetty hopes that Hugh will hug her.
Exercise 3
In the following sentences, give the possible referents of the pronouns.
(2)
a John said that he would never kiss Jenny.
b George believes that Jonathan hates himself.
c While Mary and Fanny were sleeping, Jack and Bob were making dinner for
them.
d While Mary and Fanny were sleeping, Jack and Bob were making dinner for
themselves.
e Sarah told to Edith that she would never be able to live alone.
f When Harry and Rita wake up too late, he always gets angry.
g Mrs Green agreed that her neighbour could give her his keys while he would
be away.
Exercise 4
To what extent does the Case Filter explain the contrasts in grammaticality in the
sentences below?
(1)
(2)
(3)
a.
b.
a.
b.
a.
b.
*It seems John to have left.
It seems that John has left.
Mary believes him to be a fool.
*Mary believes he to be a fool.
*John to prove the theorem would be great.
For John to prove the theorem would be great
309
Chapter 8 - The Syntax of Non-Finite Clauses
Exercise 5
Are the following sentences problematic for the theta theory? If they are, why? If they
are not, why not?
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
I want to leave now.
John persuaded Bill to leave.
I want Mary to leave now.
Mary, I really like her.
I expected Bill to win the race.
Exercise 6
Explain why the following sentences are ungrammatical.
(1)
a
b
c
d
*Johni seems that it is likely ei to have met Mary.
*Johni seems that Mary hates ei.
*Ii believe ei to be clever.
*It is believed Johni to have been killed ei in the accident.
Exercise 7
Is the empty category in the sentences below a PRO or the trace of the DP John?
(1)
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
g.
h.
i.
j.
Johni seems ei to be clever.
Johni tries ei to be clever.
Johni appeared ei to be clever.
Johni was believed ei to be clever.
Johni wanted ei to come.
Johni was likely ei to come.
Johni was too tired ei to come.
Johni was unable ei to come.
Johni was certain ei to come.
Johni was happy ei to come.
Exercise 8
Decide where we have a PRO subject in the following structures and whether the
sentences instantiate subject control, object control or arbitrary control.
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
g
h
Jack wondered whether to trust Jill.
The electrician promised the owner of the flat to do a good job.
The teacher told the student to register for the course next semester.
It is important to keep your word.
I am glad to be back home.
To err is human.
Mary tried to feed the elephants.
The teacher plans to write another study on causatives.
310
Test your knowledge
Exercise 9
Give the tree structure of the following sentences and explain the derivation.
(1)
a
b
c
d
John was believed to have stolen the book from the library.
Jane was assumed to be taken to the cinema by taxi.
The students wanted to pass the exam.
Which girl do you think John would like to dance with?
311
Suggested Answers and Hints
Chapter 1
Check Questions
Q1
Native speakers of a language have at their disposal a system that enables them
to produce and understand an infinite number of utterances in everyday life. They
produce and understand sentences never said or heard before; when they know the
meaning of a word they also know how to pronounce it and what are the combinations
that given word can occur in. In addition, native speakers are capable of explaining
why a sentence is ungrammatical (‘incorrect’) in that particular language without
necessarily being able to refer to specific grammar rules. All this constitutes linguistic
knowledge and to a large part linguistic knowledge is unconscious. Given that there is
no limit on the number of utterances we produce and decode, linguistic knowledge
may seem infinite but more plausibly it is possible to devise a system of rules that will
generate all and only the possible utterances in a language.
Q2
Given a string of sounds associated with a particular meaning (‘roughly’ a
word), its pronunciation, meaning, combinatorial properties (syntactic properties) are
not predictable from its form (arbitrariness). A part of linguistic knowledge is lexical
knowledge which is knowledge about words, their pronunciation, meaning, syntactic
properties. These types of information are stored in what is called ‘the (mental)
lexicon’, a ‘dictionary’ of the words a speaker knows. The words stored / contained in
the lexicon are grouped according to certain general properties they share – based on
these groups a certain limited number of categories may be established.
Q3
Morphological properties, i.e. inflectional endings associated with Ns, Vs, etc.;
irregular forms should be mentioned as well. Distributional criteria, i.e. in what
position in a sentence may a given word appear; verbs which are not interchangeable
should be included. Meaning: in what sense do nouns denote things, verbs actions,
events, etc. Thematic categories have conceptual meaning, they carry semantic
information, while functional categories encode grammatical information.
Q4
The notion ‘predicate’ is easy to grasp: there is something we make a statement
about. That ‘something’ is the subject and the statement about it is the predicate. Apart
from verbs DPs, APs and PPs may also function as predicates, e.g. Mary is a teacher,
Mary is beautiful, Mary is at home or They elected Mary chairperson, They consider
Mary beautiful, They want Mary in the committee. The first three sentences show that
the verb ‘be’ (a so-called linking verb or copular verb) does not constitute much to the
predication expressed in them. This is further illustrated by the second three sentences
where each contains two statements where the second is lacking a verb. Each predicate
has a set of elements that minimally have to be included when it is used say, in a
sentence, we call these participants minimally involved in expressing the meaning of
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 1
the predicate arguments. Arguments are theta-marked by their predicates, each
receives a label that identifies the part it plays in relation to the meaning of the
predicate.
Q5
The argument structure includes the subject while the subcategorisation frame
does not. The latter contains information on the number and type of complements
while the former on theta-roles. Students could be asked to find their own examples for
verbs that do not take complements, verbs that take one complement (an NP or a PP or
a clause or an AP, etc.), verbs that take two complements, etc.
Q6
Count nouns versus mass nouns, proper nouns and inherently plural nouns;
partitive constructions.
Q7
On one hand, nouns formed from verbs retain the verbs arguments structure.
However, a possessor may appear with every noun and is not determined by the nouns
meaning; the meaning relationship between the noun and the possessor is rather vague;
the possessive relationship is unique to nominals.
Q8
Categories should not be defined independently, instead e.g. the fact that
thematic relationships (argument structures) are available for all thematic categories
should be emphasised. The features ±N, ±V enable us to capture cross-categorial
generalisations (e.g. the ability to appear with a nominal complement).
Q9
According to the text the -ly morpheme may be conceived of as derivational or
as inflectional. Irregularities involve adjectives ending in -ly, adverbs that are
homomorphs of their adjectival pair, adjective–adverb pairs where the -ly form of the
adverb exists but the two are not in complementary distribution (e.g. ‘deep’ used as an
adverb). The difference between them can be explained along the lines that adjectives
modify a noun or appear predicatively while adverbs modify a verb or sentence and
cannot appear predicatively.
Q10 N: zero, PP, clause; V: zero, NP, PP, clause, AP, or a combination of the last
four types; A: zero, PP, clause and P: zero, NP, PP, clause.
Exercise 1
The term grammatical function identifies the part a given unit plays in the sentence:
we can have subjects, objects, etc. It is not only phrases that may assume a given
function but clauses as well, that is to say we can express the subject or object of a
sentence with clauses, e.g. That he left surprised us – What surprised ? That he left; or
Peter saw that Mary climbed up the tree – What did Peter see? That Mary climbed up
the tree. A clause realising a grammatical function is not to be equated with another
type of clause, relative clauses, which are used for modification, e.g.: Peter/The man
that lives next door left – Who left? Peter/The man that lives next door/*The man (the
original sentence contains information about the man)/*that lives next door; That Peter
left surprised us – What surprised us? That Peter left/*Peter (it was not Peter, the
person, it was the fact that he left that surprised us).
314
Exercise 2
Exercise 2
A given verb may subcategorise for more than one type of complement.
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
g
h
i
j
k
l
m
n
o
[Peter] left [his family].
[Peter] left after dinner.
[Peter and Mary] met in the park.
[Mary] suddenly noticed [that her purse was missing].
Before leaving [the house] [she] checked [her bag].
[The purse] was [on the kitchen table].
[Peter] considers [Mary beautiful].
[John] knew [that [Peter and Mary] met in the park in the afternoon].
[John] knows [Mary].
[Peter] wanted [John out of the room].
[They] treated [their guests] [kindly] during their stay.
[Peter] wrote [a letter] to Mary the other day.
[He] sent [her] [a box of chocolate], too.
[Peter] called [Mary] yesterday.
[John] called [Peter] [a liar].
Exercise 3
As clauses can also realise grammatical functions, they can also receive theta-roles but
determining the exact label is not always straightforward, especially with clauses. It is
only participants which are obligatory to express the meaning of the predicates
(arguments) which receive theta-roles, even if they are unexpressed, i.e. left-implicit;
optional elements (adjuncts) which add information e.g. about the place or time or
manner of some action or event do not receive theta-roles but that is not surprising,
they do not need to be included in the sentence for it to be grammatical.
(1)
a Peter loves Mary.
Peter:
Experiencer
Mary:
Theme
b Peter knows Mary well.
Peter:
Experiencer
Mary:
Theme
c The door opened.
the door:
Theme/Patient
d The purse was stolen.
the purse:
Theme/Patient
e Mary wrote a letter to John the following day.
Mary:
Agent
a letter:
Theme
to John
Goal
f John received a letter from Mary.
John:
Beneficiary
a letter:
Theme
from Mary:
Source
315
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 1
g Mary cut the cake with a knife.
Mary:
Agent
the cake:
Theme/Patient
i There arrived some visitors.
some visitors:
Theme
j Mary was cooking dinner when they entered.
Mary:
Agent
they:
Agent
k Peter has broken his leg.
Peter:
Experiencer
his leg:
Theme/Patient
l Peter has broken a vase.
Peter:
Agent
a vase:
Theme/Patient
m It surprised everyone that the visitors arrived.
everyone:
Experiencer
that the visitors arrived: Propositional
the visitors:
Theme
n They wondered what to do.
they:
Experiencer
what to do:
Propositional
o Mary is beautiful.
Mary:
Theme
p John is in Paris.
John:
Theme
in Paris:
Location
q That the purse was stolen shocked everyone.
that the purse was stolen: Propositional
everyone:
Experiencer
the purse:
Theme/Patient
316
Exercise 4
Exercise 4
a
b
c
d
e
f
g
h
i
j
k
l
m
n
o
p
q
r
John sneezed.
Dogs hate cats.
The boy was waiting for the girl.
The president sent a message to the parliament
I do not believe that you have won the game.
I never smoke.
Sometimes John eats a hamburger.
John sometimes eats a hamburger.
John eats a hamburger sometimes.
Have you ever been to England?
Joe went to the cinema with a beautiful girl.
The old computer in my office is very slow.
Students of English like difficult exercises.
John told me that he had never been to Paris.
The little dog chased a black cat.
This exercise is considered easy.
I rarely listen to classical music
This sentence is short.
Exercise 5
Predicates are heads that take arguments. Depending on the number of arguments a
predicate has, predicates can be classified into different groups like one-place
predicates, two-place predicates, etc. A one-place predicate is a predicate with one
argument. It can be a verb (1a), an adjective (1b), a noun (1c) or a preposition (1d). A
two-place predicate is a predicate that takes two arguments like the noun in (2a), the
verb (2b), the adjective (2c) or the preposition in (2d). A three-place predicate has
three arguments. In (3a) the three-place predicate is a noun; in (3b) it is a verb.
(1)
a.
b.
c.
d.
John is sleeping.
John is nice.
student of Linguistics
in the room
(2)
a.
b.
c.
d.
the enemy’s destruction of the city
John hates pets.
John is afraid of dogs.
I want you out of my room.
(3)
a. Mary’s gift of a book to John.
b John gave a book to Mary.
317
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 1
Exercise 6
The definite article the, the indefinite article a and the demonstrative pronoun this are
functional categories and as such they have [+F] feature. As they are the functional
projection of the noun, they share the categorial features associated with the noun.
[+N, –V]. Their feature matrix is: [+F, +N, –V].
The words, boy, neighbourhood, mistake and girl are nouns. Therefore they are
lexical elements that share the same feature matrix. They are specified for the
functional feature negatively. As they are nouns, they have [+N, –V] features. Their
feature matrix is [–F, +N, –V].
The item in is a preposition that is a lexical element. It has neither verbal, nor
nominal properties; therefore its feature matrix is [–F, –N, –V].
The modal auxiliary may is a functional item as it is in complementary distribution
with the tense marker and the to infinitival marker that are in I0. As IP is a functional
projection of the lexical verb, it has also verbal properties. Its feature matrix is: [+F,–
N, +V].
The primary auxiliary have is not generated in a functional projection, but it heads
its own VP, VPs headed by primary auxiliaries have the special property that they can
only subcategorise for another VP. As it is not the head of IP in the initial structure, it
is not positively specified for [F], but it is not a full lexical verb either, as primary
auxiliaries have very limited lexical content. They invariably subcategorise for another
VP. Full lexical verbs and primary auxiliaries differ in one feature. While lexical verbs
are negatively specified for the [F] feature, primary auxiliaries are not specified for
this feature, at all. The feature matrix for have is: [–N, +V].
The adjective big is a lexical element; therefore its functional feature is specified
negatively. As adjectives share lexical features both with nouns and with verbs their
feature matrix is [–F, +N, +V].
Exercise 7
Easi+er
The stem of the word easier is easy which is an adjective. Adjectives can be
graded. The comparative and superlative forms of easy are inflectional that is the
suffixes -er or -est are added to the adjectival stem. The underlined suffix is
inflectional, it can beadded to the appropriate word class (in this case adjective)
productevily. Adjectives in comparative form compare two nominal expressions with
respect to the property expressed by the adjective.
Grand+father+s
Two simple stems (roots) grand and father are combined to create the compound
stem grandfather. The plural marker added to the complex stem is inflectional, as it
can co-occur with determiners that require plural nouns e.g. two grandfathers.
318
Exercise 7
un+happi+est
This word consists of three morphemes. The basic stem is the adjective happy. The
derivational morpheme un- is added to the stem. The newly formed complex stem is
still an adjective. Derivational morphemes can change the syntactic category of the
basic stem (happi-ly), but they do not necessarily do so. In this case no categorical
change occurred. However, the meaning of the expression has changed, which is not
something inflectional morphemes can do. Inflectional morphemes only have a
grammatical function. Hence the prefix is derivational. The superlative suffix, as we
have already seen is inflectional.
fail+(e)d
The stem is a verb. Verbs can be marked for tense. Tense is a grammatical category
associated with inflection, a functional head. Tense specifies that time of the event
encoded in the VP (verb and its arguments), hence interacts with construction outside
the word it is attached to. It is an inflectional morpheme.
un+employ+ment
The verbal root is employ. The prefix un- as we have already seen is derivational
and can be combined with adjectives as in (iii) and verbs (un-do). -ment is a
derivational suffix. It converts the verbal stem into a nominal stem. Only derivational
morphemes can have this effect.
want+s
The stem is a verb to which the 3rd. person singular simple present tense suffix is
attached. The agreement marker is inflectional as it indicates that the lexical head of
the subject DP is a 3rd. person singular noun.
eat+able
The verbal stem eat is combined with the derivational suffix -able, which converts
the verbal stem into an adjective.
quick+ly
Quick is an adjective, which is combined with the suffix -ly. This process is very
productive and the resulting structure is an adverb. A ccording to traditional analyses
the -ly morpheme is derivational since it changes the grammatical category of the word
from adjective to adverb, however, in the present approach it has been argued that
adjectives and adverbs belong to the same word class having the features [-F, +N, +V].
This means that the -ly morpheme is to be analysed as an inflectional morpheme,
which appears when the given word it attaches to occupies a certain position in the
structure. E.g. the -s ending on verbs appears when the subject is third person singular.
The -ly morpheme appears on the adjective e.g. when it is used to modify a verb.
319
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 1
Exercise 8
a John likes eating nice food.
John is a proper noun. Likes is a verb in 3rd person singular simple present tense. Like
is the verbal stem. ‘-s’ is the 3rd person singular present tense inflection. Eating is a
verb in ‘-ing’ form used as a noun also called the gerund, nice is an adjective. Food is
a common noun.
b The workers must have built the bridge near Boston.
The is the definite article. Workers is a common noun in plural. Must is a modal
auxiliary verb. Have is an aspectual auxiliary. Built is a lexical verb in its -en form(3rd
form). Bridge is a common noun in singular. Near is a preposition. Boston is a proper
noun.
c A friend of mine gave a book to John’s brother.
A is an indefinite article. Friend is a common noun in singular. Of is a preposition.
Mine is a possessive pronoun which is used predicatively or in the “of” possessive
construction. Gave is a lexical verb in past tense. Book is a singular common noun. To
is a preposition. John is a proper noun and '
s is a determiner. Brother is a common
noun in singular.
Exercise 9
Obviously, as far as the possible sample sentences are concerned, there are a lot of
solutions for this exercise. As a guide, a sample set of sentences is given here.
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
(5)
(6)
(7)
(8)
a
b
a
b
a
b
a
b
a
b
a
b
a
b
a
b
The soil of the forest is covered with leaves. (N – plural of leaf)
The train leaves immediately. (V – 3Sg form of leave)
This behaviour of yours will lead to problems. (V)
Lead is considered to be one of the heavy metals. (N)
That newspaper costs 2$. (V – 3Sg form of cost)
The costs of the reconstruction must be urgently reduced by the committee.
(N – plural of cost)
A fly has been found in the guest’s soup. (N)
Although they are birds, penguins cannot fly. (V)
Whenever I go to the bathroom, the telephone rings. (V – 3Sg form of ring)
“Three rings for the elven kings under the sky...” (J. R. R. Tolkien) (N –
plural of ring)
Tears were rolling down on her face while listening to the story. (N – plural
of tear)
He tears a sheet from the pad. (V – 3Sg form of tear)
Our neighbours will water our plants while we travel. (V)
Could you please give me a glass of water? (N)
Queen Elizabeth II rules the United Kingdom. (V – 3Sg form of rule)
All players must follow the rules of this game. (N – plural of ring)
320
Exercise 10
(9)
(10)
(11)
(12)
(13)
a
b
c
a
b
c
a
b
c
d
a
b
c
a
b
c
d
In the present situation, we cannot but wait. (Adj)
He gave me a fabulous present for my birthday. (N)
The mayor will present the prizes after the competition. (V)
Do not dare to touch it, it is mine. (pronoun)
This is the only copper mine of this country. (N)
An Australian company will mine for gold in this village. (V)
It is not probable that the left will win the elections. (N)
My uncle writes with his left hand. (Adj)
Turn left at the corner. (Adv)
Her boyfriend left without a word. (V – past tense of leave)
It has been a long night. (Adj)
Have you been here long? (Adv)
I long to be with my husband. (V)
I do not like fast food very much. (Adj)
You drive too fast. (Adv)
Muslims fast during Ramadan. (V)
In order to lose weight, she went on a fast. (N)
Exercise 10
The words are classified according to their category in the following table.
V
N
A
P
I
D
Deg
(Adj/Adv)
go
girl
pretty
for
will
the
very
holiday
surely
in
a
Haiti
luxury
with
man
tall
young
change
idea
excellent
about can
his
trade
probably
of
the
reform
economic
situation
African
countries
sent
picture
big
to
has
a
very
president
old
of
been
the
former
in
buildings
company
electric
France
Southern
announce
spokesman
modern
in
may
the
most
built
houses
of
have
a
centre
for
been
London
-ed
year
destroyed
ruins
ancient
by
might
the
-est
earthquake
big
of
have
century
been
321
C
that
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 1
Lexical entries are given here:
Verbs
category:
-grid:
subcat:
b change
category:
-grid:
subcat:
c send
category:
-grid:
subcat:
d announce category:
-grid:
subcat:
build
category:
-grid:
subcat:
e destroy
category:
-grid:
subcat:
a go
[–F, –N, +V]
<agent, goal>
[prepositional]
[–F, –N, +V]
<source, patient>
[nominal]
[–F, –N, +V]
<(agent), theme,
goal>
[nominal, prepositional]
[–F, –N, +V]
<agent, proposition>
[sentence]
[–F, –N, +V]
<(agent), theme,
location>
[nominal, prepositional]
[–F, –N, +V]
<(agent), patient>
[nominal]
Auxiliaries
a
b
will
category: [+F, –N, +V]
subcat:
[verbal]
can
category: [+F, –N, +V]
subcat:
[verbal]
cde
have
cde
be
d
may
-ed
e
might
category: [–N, +V]
subcat:
[verbal]
category: [–N, +V]
subcat:
[verbal]
category:
subcat:
category:
subcat:
[+F, –N, +V]
[verbal]
[+F, –N, +V]
[verbal]
category: [+F, –N, +V]
subcat:
[verbal]
322
Exercise 11
Degree adverbs
ac
very
d
most
e -est
category: [+F, +N, +V]
subcat:
[adjectival]
category:
subcat:
category:
subcat:
[+F, +N, +V]
[adjectival]
[+F, +N, +V]
[adjectival]
Exercise 11
a) F; b) N; c) F; d) N; e) F; f) N; g) F; h) N; i) N; j) F; k) F; l) N; m) N; n) N;
Exercise 12
The lexical entry of a predicate contains a theta-grid that specifies the number and the
type of arguments the predicate has and the subcategorisation frame that provides the
categorical status of the complements (all the arguments but the subject) of the
predicate.
a My brother ate a lot of chocolate.
Eat is a two-place predicate that expresses an activity in which an “eater” and an entity
which is eaten are involved. The “eater” performs the “eating” activity on the entity
that is eaten. The thematic roles associated with the two arguments are the agent role
(the “eater” who instigates the activity) and a patient role (the entity that undergoes a
change of state caused by the agent). The subcategorisation frame specifies the
categorical status of the patient, which is a noun phrase therefore it is categorically
nominal.
eat
category: [–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <agent, patient>
subcat: nominal
b John is keen on wild animals.
Keen is a two-place predicate, an adjective that expresses a psychological state of the
subject with respect to the object. The subject has experiencer theta role, the object has
theme theta role. The subcategorisation frame specifies the categorical status of the
complement, which is a preposition phrase therefore it is categorically prepositional.
keen category:[–F, +N, +V]
-grid: <experiencer, theme>
subcat: prepositional
323
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 1
c John gave a book to his friend.
give is a three-place predicate, a verb that describes a situation in which the object
(theme) changes its position as the result of the activity of the subject (agent), that
instigates the action, that is causes the change of place of the theme. The entity (goal)
expressed by the prepositional phrase is the target of the movement of the theme. The
subcategorisation frame specifies the categorial status of the two complements, which
are a noun phrase and a prepositional phrase.
give category:[–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <agent, theme,goal>
subcat: nominal, prepositional
d He always parks his car near a nice old hotel.
park is a verb that has three arguments, an agent he that performs the action of
parking, theme his car that get ‘suffers’ the result of parking and a location near a nice
old hotel that specifies the location of the theme as the result of parking. The
subcategorisation frame specifies the categorical status of the two complements, which
are a noun phrase and a prepositional phrase.
park category:[–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <agent, theme,location>
subcat: nominal, prepositional
e I love Vermeer’s painting of the young girl.
love is a two-place predicate whose meaning is almost identical with the meaning of
the adjective keen. It has a subject (experiencer) that is in a psychological state with
respect to the object (theme). The differences between the two words are that love is a
verb and keen is an adjective and that love takes a nominal complement, while keen
has a prepositional complement.
love category:[–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <experiencer, theme>
subcat: nominal
painting is a derived nominal that inherits the argument structure of the verb paint
it is derived from. Painting expresses an activity in which the subject (agent) creates
an object (theme) in a certain way. The subcategorisation frame specifies the
categorical status of the complement, which is a prepositional phrase.
painting category:[–F, +N, –V]
-grid: <agent, theme>
subcat: prepositional
324
Exercise 13
f Jane broke the vase.
The verb break in this sentence is a two-place predicate; the subject (agent) causes the
object (theme) to undergo a change of state. Its complement is a nominal phrase.
break category:[–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <agent, theme>
subcat: nominal
g The vase broke.
The verb break in this sentence is a one-place predicate, whose meaning is very similar
to the verb break in sentence (1f). The subject (theme) undergoes the same change of
state as the object in sentence (1f), but as opposed to sentence (1f), in sentence (1g) the
causer is not specified. There is no agent only a theme that is nominal.
break category:[–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <theme>
subcat: nominal
h Everybody got a letter from the Prime Minister.
get is a three-place predicate, which expresses movement of some entity, the object
(theme) of the clause that undergoes some change of place. The source of movement is
expressed with prepositional phrase (source). The target of movement is the subject
(goal). The verb has two complements, the nominal theme and the prepositional
source. The subject argument has the role of beneficiary.
get
category:[–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <beneficiary, theme, source>
subcat: nominal, prepositional
Exercise 13
a realise category: [–N, +V]
-grid: <experiencer,
subcat:
open category: [–N, +V]
-grid: <instrument,
subcat:
b crawl category: [–N, +V]
-grid: <agent,
subcat:
c think category: [–N, +V]
-grid: <experiencer,
subcat:
break category: [–N, +V]
-grid: <source,
subcat:
proposition>
[sentence]
theme>
[nominal]
source,
goal>
[prepositional, prepositional]
proposition>
[sentence]
patient>
[nominal]
325
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 1
category: [–N, +V]
-grid: <agent,
subcat:
e cut
category: [–N, +V]
-grid: <agent,
subcat:
f write category: [–N, +V]
-grid: <agent,
subcat:
love
category: [–N, +V]
-grid: <experiencer,
subcat:
g tell
category: [–N, +V]
-grid: <agent,
subcat:
h tell
category: [–N, +V]
-grid: <agent,
subcat:
afraid category: [+N, +V]
-grid: <(experiencer)
subcat:
i proud category: [+N, +V]
-grid: <(experiencer)
subcat:
j keen
category: [+N, +V]
-grid: <(experiencer)
subcat:
k angry category: [+N, +V]
-grid: <(experiencer)
subcat:
l hold
category: [–N, +V]
-grid: <experiencer,
subcat:
belief category: [+N, –V]
-grid: <experiencer,
subcat:
move category: [–N, +V]
-grid: <agent,
subcat:
d travel
source,
goal>
[prepositional, prepositional]
patient,
[nominal,
instrument>
prepositional]
goal,
proposition>
[prepositional, sentence]
theme>
[nominal]
theme,
[nominal,
goal>
prepositional]
goal,
[nominal,
proposition>
sentence]
(theme)>
prepositional
(theme)>
prepositional
(theme)>
prepositional
(theme)>
prepositional
theme>
[nominal]
proposition>
[sentential]
location>
[prepositional]
326
Check Questions
Chapter 2
Check Questions
Q1
Sentences are made up of words but these words are also organised into units
which are smaller than the sentence itself. The best way to identify phrases is by
having a look at their distribution: sometimes a single word can be substituted by
another structure containing several words that cluster together, e.g. in Mary is
dancing the constituent Mary can be substituted by The girl we met yesterday. These
two structures (Mary and the girl we met yesterday) have the same function in the
sentence and wherever Mary is used the girl we met yesterday can be used, too.
Phrases come in different types, they are always identified by an element contained in
the phrase. That central element in the girl we met yesterday is girl, a noun, so the
whole structure is a noun phrase. Phrases can have a rather complex internal strucure,
they can contain other phrases or even clauses as can be seen in the girl (that) we met
yesterday, too.
Q2
Rewrite rules describe what constituents a certain structure can be made up of.
The rewrite rule DP → D NP means that what is on the left side of the arrow, DP, can
be rewritten as a D and an NP. Generative grammar is a set of rewrite rules with the
help of which all and only the grammatical expressions of the language can be formed.
Q3
A rewrite rule can be recursive, which means that it can contain the same
symbol on both sides, e.g. sentence → word*, sentence*. This rule states that a
sentence can contain another sentence, an embedded sentence. Recursive rules can be
applied again and again. It is the presence of such rules that accouts for how a finite
system (remember, the number of rules is finite, and the lexicon, however big, also
contains a finite number of elements) can be turned into an infinite one, since human
languages are limitless.
Q4
The subject is the argument that precedes the verb. In finite clauses it shows
agreement with the verb and appears in nominative Case. Finite clauses always have
visible subjects, even if there is no semantic motivation for it. In these cases the
subject is an expletive element, e.g. it in It is important to finish with the project today.
Non-finite clauses can have an unpronounced subject, if they have a visible subject it
appears in accusative Case.
Q5
direct object (DO): the object that is usually next to the verb, having a theme or
patient theta role in the most typical case, e.g. Botanics in I study Botanics.
indirect object (IO): the object that has the beneficiary theta role in doubleobject constructions, in such structures it is the that IO appears next to the verb
preceding the DO: I sent him a parcel. In this structure the IO is him. prepositional
object: an object that appears after a preposition, e.g. him in I went to the theatre with
him.
Q6
The double-object construction has a dative alternate: I sent him a parcel can
also be expressed as I sent a parcel to him with no particular change in meaning. The
order of the theme and goal/beneficiary arguments are different and there are also
327
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 2
differences in how the structures can be passivised: in the double-object construction
only the indirect object can be passivised, if we want o passivise the direct object we
have to use the dative structure and express the goal argument in the form of a PP.
Q7
Substitution: if a constituent can be replaced with another constituent they
belong to the same constituent-type. E.g. pronouns are DPs and whatever pronouns can
substitute will also be DPs in the structure.
Coordination: only identical constituents (with the same function) can be
coordinated.
Movement: only constituents can undergo movement. E.g. the sentence *The
boy was seen with blue eyes by Mary is ungrammatical as the boy is not an
independent constituent in this sentence.
Exercise 1
S → DP VP
DP → D NP
NP → N S
VP → V VP
VP → V DP PP
PP → P DP
Exercise 2
a [S [DPthe postman] [VP lost [DP his key] [DP yesterday]]
b [S [DP the student [S [DP who] [VP has just passed [DP the exam]]]] [VP is [AP very
happy]]]
c [S [DP this theory [PP of [DP [DP language] acquisition]]] [VP is [AP easy [PP for [DP
students [S [DP who] [VP understand [DP mathematics]]]]]]]]
Exercise 3
a
Only identical constituents can be coordinated. Here we have a DP coordinated
with a PP.
b
Only constituents can undergo movement. Here whose is not a constituent, it
forms a constituent together with film, so they shouls move together.
c
Pronouns, in spite of their name substitute full DPs, not only nouns. She in the
ungrammatical sentence could stand for the woman with long hair, it cannot be
understood as referring to woman only.
d
Again, only constituents can undergo movement. The constituent that could be
moved in this sentence is the student of Physics.
e
Identical constituents can be coordinated, but only if they have the same
function in the sentence. In this sentence the first PP is an instrument, the second
expresses manner.
328
Check questions
Chapter 3
Check questions
Q1
Rewrite rules establish the nature of structures in languages. They become
maximally general via the use of category variables which may stand both for thematic
and functional categories. The complement rule (X'→ X YP) introduces the head and
the complement; the order of the elements on the right side of the arrow may be
swapped, thereby it is possible to achieve cross-linguistic generalisations about the
relative order of head + complement. The specifier rule (XP → YP X'
) introduces the
structural position associated with specifiers which, in English, appear to the left of the
constituent containing the head + complement (X'
). The adjunct rule differs from the
other two in that what is on the left hand side of the arrow may be a head or a bar-level
constituent or a maximal projection. In addition, the adjunct may also be of two types:
a zero-level category or a maximal projection. Finally, the adjunct rule is recursive, i.e.
a constituent appearing on the left hand side of the arrow also appears on the right
hand side, thus inclusion of any number of adjuncts in a structure is made possible.
Q2
(i) head to head: compound nouns
X→X
X→Y
Y
X
(armchair)
(ii) phrase to bar-level constituent: pronominal APs
X'→ X'YP
X'→ YP X'
(popular smart student)
(iii) phrase to phrase: relative clauses
XP → XP YP
XP → YP XP
It must be noted that the order of the constituents on the right side of the arrow may
vary, i.e. adjunction to either side is possible and that in case of adjunction to a head
the adjoining element is itself a head, whereas in the other two cases it is a maximal
projection.
Q3
The constituent that is not projected in a phrase is called the head (the zerolevel projection). A head projects its properties (e.g. its category), thus the maximal
projection containing that head will share the category of the head and so will
intermediate projections between the two. Projection is sharing category among the
three levels of constituents. The properties of a given head which is inserted into a
head position are idiosyncratic, in other words, if a word is picked from the lexicon, all
the relevant pieces of information about it specified in the lexicon are also
automatically available. Thus, depending on what category a given word has, the
phrase it heads will acquire the same category.
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Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 3
Q4
An endocentric phrase has a head that lends its properties to the whole
projection, while an exocentric phrase lacks such a head, hence the properties of an
exocentric phrase do not necessarily follow from the properties of the elements it
contains. It must be pointed out that all phrases are assumed to be endocentric. It is
possible to rely on the discussion on imperatives in the text and exemplify a potential
candidate for an exocentric construction.
Q5
a) yes; b) no; c) no; d) no; e) no; f) no
Q6
Heads select the number and type of complements they take but there only
seem to exist restrictions related to compatibility of meaning with the meaning of the
head for specifiers. Specifiers and complements (i) are both arguments of thematic
heads, (ii) both receive theta-roles, but (iii) while it is possible for certain verbs to take
more than one complement, there can only be a single specifier in a phrase.
Q7
The rule by itself might seem to general and would seemingly allow (generate)
ungrammatical sequences. However, given the restriction that movement cannot
change basic X-bar configurations (structures), the vast majority of potentially arising
ungrammatical structures disappears.
Q8
There are two levels of representation assumed, D-Structure and S-Structure. At
D-Structure elements occupy their base-position, i.e. for arguments a position where
they can receive a theta role from the predicate. However, a D-Structure position may
not be a position where they can receive case from a case assigning element, hence
elements may potentially be moved to another position which we call S-Structure
position. This is what happens in passive constructions, as we will see in more detail
later on in the book. Thus, we can say that the two levels of representation are linked
via movement.
Q9
A theta-marking head theta marks arguments in its immediate vicinity, that is,
arguments which are associated with the specifier position and the complement
position of the phrase headed by the theta-marking head.
Q10 Nominative: subjects of finite clauses; accusative: subjects of non-finite
clauses, complements of verbs and prepositions, e.g. Peter/He loves Mary/her; Peter
saw John/him climbing up the tree; Peter often talks about Mary/her.
Q11 In both of these constructions there is no argument associated with the subject
slot. In addition, the arguments present in them remain Caseless unless they leave the
D-Structure position where they receive their respective theta-roles. As the subject
position is empty but it can be case-marked, passivisation or raising can occur,
depending on whether the structure contains a passive verb or a raising verb or a
raising adjective.
330
Exercise 1
Exercise 1
Possible configurations: 2, 3, 5, 6, 9, 12
1: projection: a Y head cannot project WP, XP has no head, etc.
4: projection (Y as head); X'cannot dominate two maximal projections
7: crossing branches
8: complements must be maximal projections
10: lower XP should be rewritten as X; Y'should be a maximal projection
11: X'cannot dominate two maximal projections; the lower XP should be rewritten as
13: adjuncts must be maximal projections
14: specifiers must be maximal projections
15: ternary branching is not allowed
Exercise 3
The syntactic heads are nouns in each compound. The head is on the left in a) and e).
The meanings of b), c) and f) merit discussion as the meanings of the components do
not directly relate to the meaning of the whole compound. Perhaps it could be argued
that these are exocentric compounds.
Exercise 4
In this exercise the existence of implicit arguments (a, i, j)should be pointed out. One
argument cannot receive more than one theta role (c, d, e, f, g). One theta role can only
be assigned to one argument (b). Clausal arguments may also receive theta roles (k and
l).
Exercise 5
(1)
Peter – agent/subject, Mary – beneficiary/indirect object, flowers –
theme/direct object: no change in theta-roles or grammatical functions, only word
order changes
(2)
active: the postman – agent/subject, the letter – theme/direct object; passive:
the letter – subject/theme: there is no change in theta-roles but as the subject is
unexpressed, the object moves into its position and assumes its grammatical function
(3)
he – agent/subject, us – theme/direct object: no change in theta-roles or
grammatical functions occurs
(4)
Peter – experiencer/subject, the scar – theme/direct object: in the second
sentence the scar – theme/subject
(5)
Mary – theme/subject: in the second sentence Mary – agent/subject: the
meanings of the two sentences differ considerably with respect to who is pleasing who
(6)
who – theme/direct object, you – experiencer/subject, the second sentence is
ambiguous: who – agent/subject of lower clause, you – experiencer/subject of matrix
clause OR who – theme/direct object
(7)
he – agent/subject, a shower – theme/(eventive) object: no change in theta
roles or grammatical functions
(8)
he – agent/subject, the ball – theme/direct object: no change in theta roles or
grammatical functions
331
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 3
Exercise 6
Brackets symbolize the same as nodes do in the tree structure. Each pair of brackets
corresponds to a node in the tree with the label given at the left bracket. The first pair
of brackets gives the uppermost node, namely I. I is made up from the nodes H and J.
Inside J we have a word c and the node K. Following this logic, we get the following
tree structure:
I
H
a
J
b
c
K
d
L
e
f
Exercise 7
In the bracketed structure each pair of brackets represent a unit, like nodes do in the
tree. Thus each node in the tree can have a corresponding pair of brackets in the
bracketed structure. The strategy is to take a look at all nodes in the tree and to
determine which words of the sentence are dominated by the particular node. To each
node we will have a corresponding pair of brackets:
[K [I a [J b c]] [L [P d] [M e [N f [O g h]]]]]
Exercise 8
the
little
boy
may
think
that
he
category: [+F, +N, –V]
subcat: [nominal]
category: [–F, +N, +V]
-grid: <theme>
subcat:
category: [–F, +N, –V]
-grid: <∅>
subcat: [∅]
category: [+F, –N, +V]
subcat: [verbal]
category: [–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <experiencer
subcat:
category: [+F, –N, –V]
subcat: [clausal]
features [–Wh, +Fin]
category: [+F, +N, –V]
subcat: [∅]
332
[∅]
proposition>
sentential
Exercise 9
category: [+F, –N, +V]
subcat: [verbal]
get
category: [–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <beneficiary
subcat:
a
category: [+F, +N, –V]
subcat: [nominal]
very
category: [+N, +V]
subcat: [adjectival]
expensive category: [–F, +N, +V]
-grid: <theme>
subcat:
present
category: [–F, +N, –V]
-grid: <(agent)
subcat:
for
category: [+F, –N, –V]
subcat: [nominal]
his
category: [+F, +N, –V]
subcat: [∅]
birthday category: [–F, +N, –V]
-grid: <∅>
subcat: [∅]
will
theme>
[nominal]
[∅]
(beneficiary)>
[prepositional]
Exercise 9
exp = experiencer; prop = proposition;
exp
(1)
prop
exp
theme
[Jack] thought [that [he] knew [the right answer]].
prop
(2)
prop
[One of the big parties]1 seems [to be unlikely [to be
prop
agent theme
believed [e1 to win [the elections]]]].
agent theme
(3)
beneficiary
[John] gave [three red roses] to [Jane].
agent prop
(4)
agent theme
[The teacher] wanted [[the students] to pass [the exam]].
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Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 3
prop
theme
goal
It was believed [that [John]1 was taken e1 to [hospital]].
(5)
theme
(6)
location
There is [a man] at [the entrance door].
prop
(7)
patient agent
[The exam sheets]1 were believed [to have been corrected e1 by [the teacher]].
In sentence (2) the DP one of the big parties is base-generated as the subject of the
verb win in the lowest clause, so it is the argument of the verb win and receives its
theta-role from the verb win. In sentence (5) the subject position is filled by an
expletive pronoun, which again has no theta-role and thus it is no argument either.
Exercise 10
The adjuncts are given in brackets.
a The [little] boy gave a [nice] drawing to his mother [for her birthday].
b The teacher wanted to know whether the [new] students would know what to
do [[when] they arrive].
c [Why] do you ask me whether I want to buy a [new] computer [next year]?
d The [new] [guest] professor of Mathematics [from Germany] will [probably]
arrive at the [[recently] renovated] [railway] station [at 2:15].
e [How] can you decide whether a loaf of bread [on the shelf] is fresh or not?
f Jack and Jane saw a [very interesting] [new] film [at the cinema [in the [city]
centre]].
g [Sometimes] it is difficult for students to find the adjuncts [in sentences [like
this]].
h The mayor of the city said that the river is unlikely to flood the city.
i The workers didn’t believe that they didn’t have to work [on the following
week].
Exercise 11
(1)
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
David wrote a letter on the desk.
David put a letter on the desk.
Mary slept in the bed.
Mary stayed in the bed.
Jill arrived at the station.
Jill waited at the station.
Complements are part of the VP while adjuncts are added to the VP, forming another
VP node:
334
Exercise 11
(2)
VP
V0
VP
YP
V'
adjunct
XP
complement
As it can be seen in (2), the verb and its complement forms a phrase without the
adjunct, while the verb itself cannot form a phrase without its complement. This fact
can be made use of when we would like to decide about the complement or the adjunct
status of a particular item. If a phrase can somehow be separated from the verb, then it
is an adjunct, while if it cannot be separated, then the phrase is probably a complement
of the verb.
Let us apply the so called ‘do so’ test for sentences (1a) and (1b). The string do so
or did so always substitutes for a VP. If the sentence is well-formed, then the phrase
which do so stands for is a VP. If the sentence is ill-formed, then the string of words
which do so stands for is not a VP.
(3)
a. Jim wrote a letter on the table and David wrote a letter on the desk.
b. Jim wrote a letter on the table and David did so on the desk.
As we can see in (3a–b), did so substitutes for wrote a letter. The sentence is wellformed, which means that the string wrote a letter is a VP. The PP on the desk is
outside the VP, so it is an adjunct.
(4)
a. Jim put a letter on the table and David put a letter on the desk.
b. *Jim put a letter on the table and David did so on the desk.
c. Jim put a letter on the desk and so did David.
In (4b) did so stands for put a letter. Since (4b) is ill-formed, the string put a letter
cannot be a full VP. The PP on the desk is part of the VP, which can be seen in (4c) as
well, where so did substitutes for put a letter on the desk. According to (4b), the PP on
the desk is a complement of the verb in (1b).
Let us choose a different test for sentences (1c–d). The test used in (5) and (6) is
called VP-fronting.
(5)
a. Mary wanted to sleep in the bed and [sleep]1 she did e1 in the bed.
b. Mary wanted to sleep in the bed and [sleep in the bed]1 she did e1.
(6)
a. *Mary wanted to stay in the bed and [stay]1 she did e1 in the bed.
b. Mary wanted to stay in the bed and [stay in the bed]1 she did e1.
In (5a) sleep was moved from behind did. The sentence is grammatical, which
means that the moved item has to be a full phrase. sleep is a VP, thus the PP in the bed
is an adjunct. Since the VP and the adjunct together form a VP node as well, sentence
(5b) will also be grammatical.
335
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 3
In (6a) only the verb stay is moved and the sentence is ill-formed. This means that
stay alone cannot form a whole VP. The PP in the bed is now not an adjunct but a
complement of the verb. If we move the verb and the PP together, the sentence is wellformed, as we can see in (6b).
Now let us consider the sentences is (1e–f). The test we are going to use is pseudoclefting.
(7)
a. *What Jill did at the station was [arrive].
b. What Jill did was [arrive at the station].
(8)
a. What Jill did at the station was [wait].
b. What Jill did was [wait at the station].
In the above pseudo-cleft sentences, if the sentence is well-formed, the string
following the auxiliary was is a phrase, in these cases a VP. In (7a) the sentence is illformed, so the verb arrive alone is not a full VP. The PP at the station is a complement
of the VP, thus it cannot be separated from the verb. (7b) is well-formed because the
verb is not separated from its complement. In (8a), similarly to (7a), only the verb
follows the auxiliary was. The difference is that now the sentence is well formed. This
means that the verb wait and the PP at the station can be separated. The PP at the
station is an adjunct. Since a VP and an adjunct form another VP node, the sentence in
(8b) will be grammatical as well.
Exercise 12
(1)
(2)
(3)
a. Julie met the student of Physics from France and I met the one from Spain
b. *John knows the student of Physics from France and I know the one of
English from Spain.
a. Julie met a student of Physics of considerable intelligence.
b. *Julie met a student of considerable intelligence of Physics.
a. Julie met a student of Physics and of Mathematics.
b. *Julie met a student of Physics and of considerable intelligence.
The noun student has a PP complement. The PP complement contains a preposition
and a DP that is understood as the object of student. The prepositional phrase of
considerable intelligence is interpreted as an adjunct.
(i)
In sentences (1) the indefinite pronoun one is introduced in the second clause.
Pronouns in general have the same distribution as Determiner Phrases (DPs) have. In
fact pronouns are analysed as heads of DPs that do not take NP argument. One seems
to have different distribution as it excludes the definite article as sentence (1a)
illustrates and it covers the head and the complement as is shown in (1b). (1b) is
ungrammatical as the pronoun is substituted in the position of the noun head and
excludes the complement PP between the adjunct PP and the article.
(ii)
In sentences (2) the contrast is due to the strict order of the adjunct PP and the
complement PP. Complements are always closer to the head than adjuncts in English.
In sentence (2a) the complement immediately follows the head, while in (2b) the
adjunct follows the head hence the sentence is ungrammatical.
336
Exercise 13
(iii)
In sentence (3a) both PPs can be interpreted as the complement of the head,
therefore they can be coordinated and as coordinated PPs, they can be understood as
the complement of the head. In sentence (3b) the adjunct PP and the complement PP
are coordinated and that renders the sentence ungrammatical. The adjunct and the
complement have different statuses in the DP, therefore they cannot be coordinated.
Exercise 13
(1)
a
b
c
d
John solved the problem independently of me.
My professor lives right in the middle of nowhere.
I am very afraid of wild animals.
John read a book about Britain.
(1a)
The phrase in this sentence is an adverb phrase (AP) headed by the adverb
independently. The adverb independently has one complement. a prepositional phrase
PP of me. The head merges with the complement PP to form A'
. In accordance with the
Specifier Rule A'further projects into AP. The X'
-structure of the adverb phrase is in
(2):
(2)
AP
A'
A
PP
independently of me
(1b)
The phrase in this sentence is a prepositional phrase (PP) whose head is in. It
is modified by the adverb right. The DP the middle of nowhere functions as the
complement of the prepositional head. The head is merged with the complement. They
form the P'level. The adjunct right is merged with P'making P'recursive. Finally the
P'level is projected into the PP.
(3)
PP
P'
right
P'
P
in
DP
the middle of nowhere
(1c)
The structure in italics in sentence (4) is an adjectival phrase whose head is
the adjective afraid. This adjective is a two-place predicate. It has an experiencer
subject and a theme object. The adverb very is not in the lexical entry of the adjective.
It functions as an adjunct in the structure. The adjectival head is merged with the
337
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 3
. The adjunct is merged with A'to
prepositional complement of wild animals to form A'
form another A'level. Adjuncts are added to the X'structure by making one of the
levels recursive. Then the higher A'merges with the subject DP to form AP as in (4).
(4)
AP
e1
A'
AP
A'
very
A
PP
afraid
of wild animals
(1d)
The phrase in this sentence is a noun phrase headed by the noun book. It has a
prepositional complement about Britain. The noun merges with its complement PP to
form N'
, N'is further projects the NP level as in (5).
(5)
NP
N'
N
PP
book
about Britain
Exercise 14
(1)
a *The teacher from France of English likes going to open lectures.
b *Mary often drives too fast her car.
c *Every student in Cambridge of Physics gets an excellent job.
(i)
The phrase that is responsible for the ungrammaticality of the sentence is the
NP teacher from France of English. The noun teacher is a one-place predicate that
takes the PP complement of English.
The prepositional phrase from France is not in the lexical entry of the noun. It is an
optional PP, an adjunct. The problem with the NP is that the adjunct intervenes
between the head and the complement. Considering X-bar theory the first rewrite rule,
the Complement Rule, is applied (2). The nominal head teacher merges with its
prepositional complement forming the X'level as rule 1 indicates in (2).
(2)
Rule 1: X'→ X YP
(3)
N'
N
PP
teacher
of English
338
Exercise 14
The adjunct PP is merged with the structure by making the X'level recursive as the
result of the application of Adjunct Rule as in (4).
(4)
. YP
Adjunct Rule 2: X'→ X'
After combining the rules in (2) and (4) we get the structure in (5).
(5)
N'
N'
N
teacher
PP(adjunct)
YP(complement)
of English
There are two issues at stake here. One is that rule (2) is obligatory while rule (4) is
optional. The second is that the application of rules (2) and (4) is ordered. First rule (2)
must be applied. and then rule (4). In fact X-bar theory does not allow a head to be
combined with an adjunct phrase. Rule 3 as in (5) is unavailable.
(6)
*X'→ X YP (where YP is interpreted as an adjunct)
The other possibility is to allow for the adjunct to be able to intervene between the
head and the complement as in the NP in sentence (1a) and still maintain the rules of
X-bar theory as in (2) and (4) (excluding (6)) is to allow the branches of the tree to
cross. It is again impossible. Therefore X-bar theory predicts that sentence (1a) is ill
formed.
(ii)
Sentence (1b) is problematic for the same reason as sentence (1a). The order
of the elements in the VP drives too fast her car makes the sentence ungrammatical.
drive is a two-place predicate, it has a agent subject and a patient theme. The lexical
entry for the verb drive:
(7)
drive cat: [–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <agent,patient>
subcat: nominal.
As can be seen in (7) the verb has an object complement specified in its lexical
entry, but no adverbial is present in the lexical specification, therefore the adverb
phrase functions as an adjunct in the VP. The order of the constituents suggests that
first the head and the adjunct are merged as it is in (6), then the complement is merged
with the new structure, but as we have seen in (2), this is not possible. As has been
shown earlier, X-bar theory does not permit branches to cross, hence the impossibility
of VP structure in (1b).
339
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 3
(iii)
The DP subject in sentence (1c) is headed by the noun student, which is a
one-place predicate. Its lexical entry is:
(8)
student cat: [–F, +N, –V]
-grid: <theme>
subcat: prepositional
The PP in Cambridge is not in the lexical entry of the predicate student, as it
cannot be interpreted as theme; therefore it is interpreted as an adjunct in the DP. The
PP of Physics can be understood as the theme of the head. In this DP the same problem
arises that we had in (i). In this structure the adjunct PP is again closer to the nominal
head than the complement PP, which indicates that either the head is first merged with
the adjunct, then the resulting structure with the complement or alternatively the
branches of the tree should be allowed to cross. Neither of these strategies available in
X-bar theory as in (i) and (ii).
Exercise 15
a)
DP
b)
NP
D'
N'
D
NP
AP
a
N'
little
AP
N'
big
N
DP
D'
D
NP
this
N'
AP
N'
incredible
N
AP
N'
brown
N
jug
house
c)
N'
story
340
Exercise 15
d)
DP
D'
D
NP
a
N'
AP
N'
tall
AP
N'
handsome N
PP
student
e)
of physics
NP
N'
AP
funny
N'
AP
N'
little
N
thing
f)
DP
D'
D
NP
those
N'
AP
pretty
N'
N'
PP
N
from Europe
women
341
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 3
Exercise 16
a)
N
N
N
car
park
b)
N
A
N
floppy
disk
c)
N
N
N
N
N
bicycle
winner
race
d)
N
N
N
A
N
micro
wave
e)
oven
N
A
N
petty
coat
f)
N
N
N
A
N
second
hand
shop
342
Exercise 16
g)
N
N
N
N
N cocktail
orange
juice
h)
N
N
N
A
N
hot
water
i)
heater
N
N
N
N
N
season
ticket
j)
holder
N
N
N
N
N
petrol
station
k)
owner
N
N
N
A
N
heavy
metal
band
343
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 3
Exercise 17
The general problem is that the Theta Criterion (a -role must be assigned to one and
only one argument and an argument must bear one and only one -role) is violated for
some reason or another.
a)
The verb promise should have two more arguments to which the theme and
the beneficiary thematic roles should be assigned, e.g. Penny promised a present.
b)
There are too many arguments in the sentence. Since sleep is an intransitive
verb, there is no need for an object (an extra DP). Thus, the car cannot receive a
thematic role from the verb, so it cannot occur in the sentence.
c)
The verb give cannot give its Theme role to any of its arguments because they
already have one role and one argument can have only one thematic role in accordance
with the Theta Criterion. Thus, one argument with the Theme role should be present,
e.g. Gary gave Greg a guitar.
d)
One argument is missing from the sentence: the verb give cannot assign all of
its thematic roles to its arguments, more precisely, the Agent role remains unassigned.
An acceptable version would be e.g. Mick gave a cent to Marion.
e)
There are too many arguments in the sentence. The verb eat is transitive, thus,
it requires the presence of two arguments (DPs) and to them it can assign two thematic
roles. It means that the PP (for Anne) is superfluous in the sentence because it cannot
have a thematic role.
f)
Again, there is one more argument in the sentence than necessary. The verb
dance is intransitive, that is, it can assign one thematic role, to its subject. If another
argument (here Dora) is present in the sentence, it cannot get a thematic role, and the
sentence becomes ungrammatical.
Exercise 18
Thematic roles are always given at the level of D-structure, that is, before movement
takes place. However, movements can be motivated by Case. It means that Case is
relevant only at the level of S-structure, in other words, DPs usually get their Case in
their surface positions.
a) Predicate:
think
Thematic roles: experiencer
propositional
DPs:
you
Predicate:
invite
Thematic roles: agent
patient
DPs:
Izzy
who
(you)
(Izzy will invite e)
nominative
(Izzy)
(who)
nominative
accusative
344
Exercise 18
think
b) Predicate:
Thematic roles: experiencer
propositional
DPs:
Terry
Predicate:
steal
Thematic roles: patient
DPs:
the car
fly
c) Predicate:
Thematic roles: agent
source
goal
DPs:
Frank
New York
Amsterdam
d) Predicate:
seem
Thematic roles: propositional
DPs:
Sally
Predicate:
select
Thematic roles: patient
agent
DPs:
Sally
the committee
e) Predicate:
expect
Thematic roles: experiencer
DPs:
I
this girl
Predicate:
rewrite
Thematic roles: agent
patient
DPs:
her essay
f) Predicate:
choose
Thematic roles: agent
source
DPs:
Chuck
these chicks
(Terry)
(that the car has been stolen)
nominative
(the car)
nominative
(Frank)
(New York)
(Amsterdam)
nominative
accusative
accusative
(Sally to be selected by the committee)
nominative
(Sally)
(the committee)
nominative
accusative
(I)
nominative
accusative (Exceptional Case marking!)
(this girl)
(her essay)
accusative
(Chuck)
(these chicks)
accusative
accusative
345
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 4
Exercise 19
(ii)
XP XP Y;
X' X'Y;
X
X Y;
XP XP YP;
X' X'YP;
X
X YP
The second member of the first pair, the second member of the second pair and the
first member of the third pair are exemplified in the text. Bar-level constituents can
never appear as adjuncts.
(iii)
Adverbial PPs and clauses are discussed in the text as potentially exocentric.
Constructions which appear to have more than one head: participles, gerunds.
(iv)
(1)
a He being the owner, we were all given a free drink.
b Who wants ice cream? Me.
c Her cheat on him? Never.
The sentence (1a) contains what is traditionally called an absolutive construction,
where the subject of the non-finite clause can be in nominative. This construction is
also grammatical with an accusative subject in the non-finite clause, though. That is in
line with assumptions about the distribution of nominative and accusative forms in
English but the nominative form is not, its grammaticality is unexplained – perhaps it
is some default form of the pronoun that occurs in situations when no case assigner is
present. This is contradicted by the sentence in (1b) where in a structure that contains
no case assigner it is the accusative form that appears and not the nominative – perhaps
it is the accusative which is the default form in English. The situation is the same in
sentence (1c), it is the accusative and not the nominative form that occurs. One can
accept the assumption that in English it is the accusative which functions as the default
form; the nominative form in (1a) is unexplained.
Chapter 4
Check Questions
Q1
The starting point is that proper nouns and plural count nouns do not contain
determiners. However, they have the same distribution as other nominal phrases that
do contain determiners. Determiners are marked for number (in languages other than
English for gender and even case) and they encode the definite–indefinite distinction
(e.g. a man versus the man) which is not marked on the noun. Hence it is assumed that
determiners are heads taking NP complements. As regards proper nouns, they can in
fact appear with determiners even in English and it is normal for a proper noun to
appear with a determiner in German (ich bin der Hans). Those proper nouns that do
not tolerate a determiner appear with a phonologically empty (unpronounced) D head.
This is supported by the interpretation of the proper noun as definite – determiners are
the locus of the definiteness feature and not nouns. Plural count nouns represent the
opposite in that when they appear without a determiner they are interpreted as
346
Check Questions
indefinite. Again, there is a phonologically empty D head responsible for this
interpretation. The empty definite determiner takes only NP complements headed by
proper nouns while the empty indefinite determiner takes only NP complements
headed by plural nouns.
Q2
Pronouns are in complementary distribution with determiners which suggests
that they occupy the same structural slot. A pronoun DP containing a D head takes no
NP complement as both the semantic content and the syntactic properties of such a DP
are provided by the pronoun itself.
Q3
D heads project the features [±definite], [±plural]. Some D heads obligatorily
take an NP complement (e.g. articles), some obligatorily stand without a complement
(pronouns) and some take optional NP complements (e.g. demonstrative pronouns).
Q4
When the possessor is a lexical DP in a DP, the morpheme ’s is attached to it.
This morpheme attaches to phrases rather than heads (e.g. John’s book, the man living
next door’s dog). However, when the possessor is a pronoun, it is the pronoun itself
that bears the possessive feature. Possessors and determiners seem to be in
complementary distribution in English (e. g. *the his book/*his the book) which
suggests that they both occupy the D head position. A possessor like the man living
next door’s can be replaced by the possessive pronoun his. If possessive pronouns are
in the D head position, then the man living next door’s should likewise occupy that
position. However, this is a phrase to which the ’s morpheme is attached and phrases
cannot occur in head positions. The phrase can be substituted by the possessive
pronoun, hence the possessive pronouns should also have the status of a phrase. There
is an available phrasal position, however: [Spec, DP]. Furthermore, there is a head
position available for the ’s morpheme which does not behave like a phrase in any
respect: D. Thus, DP possessors occupy the specifier position in a DP, while ’s the
head position. Although as a bound morpheme it will always attach to the phrase in
DP, it is this element that is in complementary distribution with other types of
determiners.
Q5
As it is assumed that NPs are inside DPs, APs and PPs occurring inside NPs as
modifiers may be conceived of as adjuncts inside DPs. However, these modifying
elements are always inside the NP, they never modify pronouns. Some adverbs, on the
other hand may be argued to be actual adjuncts of the functional nominal projection
and not the lexical one, as they appear preceding a D head, e.g. only, almost.
347
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 4
Suggested answer forExercise 1
(1)
a
DP
D'
D
NP
all
N'
N
PP
e
P'
P
DP
e
D'
D
NP
the
N'
AP
N'
A'
N
A
things
small
348
Suggested answer forExercise 1
(1)
b
DP
D'
D
e
NP
AP
N'
A'
N
PP
A
e
P'
few
P
DP
of
D'
D
NP
the
N'
AP
N'
A'
N
A
boys
blonde
349
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 4
(1)
c
DP
AP
DP
A'
D'
A
D
NP
nearly every
N'
AP
N'
A'
N
PP
A
student
P'
clever
P
DP
of
D'
D
NP
e
N'
AP
N'
A'
N
A
history
American
350
Suggested answer forExercise 1
(1)
d
DP
AP
DP
A'
D'
A
D
NP
almost
all
N'
N
PP
e
P'
P
DP
of
D'
D
NP
these
N'
AP
N'
A'
N
A
animals
young
351
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 4
(1)
e
DP
D'
D
NP
any
N'
N
PP
e
P'
P
DP
of
D'
D
you
352
Suggested answer forExercise 1
(1)
f
DP
D'
D
NP
any
N'
AP
A'
N'
N
PP
A solution
possible
P'
P
DP
for
D'
D
NP
this
N'
N
PP
exercise
P'
P
NP
in
N'
AP
N'
A'
N
A
syntax
English
353
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 4
Exercise 2
Both tree structures are correct. The sentence can be regarded as an ambiguous
sentence with two different meanings and two different structures. However, it is hard
to capture the difference in meaning. The sentence with the DP in (2) means that ‘I
know those students of Mathematics from London who are new’. The other sentence
with the DP in (3) means that ‘I know those new students of Mathematics who are
from London’. The structure can be tested by a substitution test. The N'node can be
substituted for by one/ones.
(4)
(5)
I know the new students of Mathematics from London and Peter knows the
old ones.
I know the new students of Mathematics from London and Peter knows the
ones from Paris.
In sentence (4) one stands for students of Mathematics from London. Thus this
string of words has to form one node in the structure. We can find an N'node in
structure (2) which exhaustively dominates this string of words while we find no such
node in structure ii. This means that the structure in (2) has to be correct.
In sentence (5) one stands for new students of Mathematics. Thus this string of
words has to form one node in the structure as well. Now we can find an N'node in
structure (3) which exhaustively dominates this string of words, but we do not find
such a node in structure (2). Consequently both structures are correct.
Exercise 3
In sentence (1) the verb likes takes two DPs, one is the subject DP my colleagues, that
contains the possessive pronoun my, which is analysed as DP. The object DP the idea
that the researchers invented the most dangerous weapon ever been made contains the
noun idea that has a sentential complement, a subordinate clause and is preceded by a
determiner. The subordinate clause is lexically headed by the verb invent whose two
arguments are the subject DP the researchers and the object DP the most dangerous
weapon ever been made.
In sentence (2) the verb hate is a two-place predicate, that has two DP arguments,
the subject some students who study linguistics whose lexical head is the noun student
which is modified by a relative clause and the object DP parasitic gaps. The relative
clause contains two DPs, the relative pronoun who and the object DP Linguistics of the
lexical head study of the clause.
In sentence (3) there is the subject DP one very good reason for giving her a
second chance, whose lexical head reason takes a non-finite sentential complement
that contains two DPs, the indirect object pronoun her and the direct object DP a
second chance. The verb is links the subject DP to the that clause, in which there are
four DPs, the subject pronoun she, the object DP of the verb do, a very good job and
two DPs in two adjunct PPs, two years and Paris.
354
Exercise 4
Exercise 4
(1)
DP
DP
D'
the
D
President
’s
NP
N'
N'
PP
N
P'
speech
P
DP
in
D'
D
NP
the
N'
N
Congress
355
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 4
(2)
DP
D'
D
NP
some
N'
N
PP
e
P'
P
DP
of
D'
D
NP
the
N'
AP
N'
most
N
recent
assumptions
PP
P'
P
DP
about
D'
D
NP
N'
N
life
356
Exercise 4
(3)
DP
D'
D
NP
the
N'
AP
N'
most
N
interesting
books
PP
P'
P
DP
on
D'
D
NP
N'
N
Physics
357
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 4
(4)
DP
D'
D
NP
all
N'
N
PP
e
P'
P
DP
e
D'
D
NP
N'
N
PP
essays
P'
P
DP
on
D'
D
NP
the
N'
N
(5)
theory
NP
N'
AP
N'
magnificent AP
Gothic
N'
N
building
358
Exercise 5
Exercise 5
In the Italian DP il mio libro the sequence determiner+possessive pronoun is
grammatical. According to the text when there is a possessive pronoun in [Spec, DP],
there is an unpronounced D head in D and that element is in complementary
distribution with other types of determiners. One problem concerns the order of
elements in the Italian example, as the element assumed to be sitting in specifier
position follows the element assumed to occupy the head position. Secondly, it is
difficult to maintain the idea that there is an unpronounced D head in complementary
distribution with the definite determiner as there are languages where the two can cooccur and no ungrammaticality results.
Exercise 6
In the DP a few too many parking tickets there is a singular indefinite determiner head
which clearly cannot be construed with the head of the NP. Thus, it must be assumed
that the indefinite determiner is inside the AP. For example, it could be assumed that
the indefinite article is the head of a DP occupying the specifier position of the AP but
the AP itself should actually contain some nominal element itself. Alternatively,
perhaps the structure is something like a few parking tickets too many parking tickets
where the first instance of parking tickets is deleted. This is clearly wrong as there is
no number agreement between the determiner and the deleted element, the situation is
the same as with the whole phrase. However, this seems to concern more the structure
of the AP itself than the DP.
In the DP many a pleasant day the first problem concerns number agreement, or
rather the lack of it, between the specifier (many) and the head (day). The second
problem is raised by the order of elements as [Spec, NP] seems to precede the D head,
contrary to assumptions about the structure of DPs.
In the DP this very moment there is an adverb between the D head and the N head.
The oddity of the example is reflected in that if this adverb is present it is not possible
to modify the N head further, e.g. *this very beautiful moment/*this beautiful very
moment (in the first example very is not construed with beautiful but with moment).
Exercise 7
What you have to notice first in example (1) is that this structure is ambiguous: with
mistakes can refer to sentences or an analysis. This is an instance of structural
ambiguity. With mistakes cannot be a complement in either of the interpretations, since
it is not selected by either sentences or analysis. In both cases with mistakes functions
as an adjunct, the ambiguity can be explained by the different positions where the
adjunct appears within the tree. In one of the interpretations the Prepositional Phrase is
the adjunct of analysis, in this case we have the meaning when the analysis itself
contains the mistakes. In the other interpretation, when it is the sentences which
contain the mistakes (with a potentially good analysis of the bad sentences), the
Prepositional Phrase with mistakes is the adjunct of sentences.
The whole structure is a DP, since it is the determiner head that defines the
definiteness of the nominal expression.
The two trees therefore will look as follows:
359
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 4
DP
D'
D
an
NP
NP
PP
N'
P'
N
PP
P
DP
analysis
P'
with
D'
P
DP
of
D
D'
ø
NP
AP
N'
D
NP
A'
N
ø
N'
A
mistakes
N
several
sentences
360
Exercise 8
DP
D'
D
NP
an
N'
N
PP
analysis
P'
P
DP
of
D'
D
ø
NP
NP
N'
PP
with s. mistakes
N
sentences
Exercise 8
Meaning 1:
One of the children’s books were on the desk.
Meaning 2:
One of the children’s books was on the desk.
In meaning 1, the string one of the children forms one node, which can be proved
by substituting a DP for this string of words:
(1)
a [DP one of the children]’s books
b [DP John]’s books
In meaning 2, the string the children’s books forms one node, which can again be
proved by substituting a DP for this string of words:
(2)
a one of [DP the children’s books]
b one of [DP them]
The tree structure of the DP with meaning 1 is that in (3a) and the structure of the
DP with meaning four is under (3b).
361
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 4
(3)
a
DP
DP
D'
D'
D0
e
NP
AP
one
D0
NP
’s
N'
N0
N'
N0
PP
e
P'
books
P0
DP
of
D'
D0
NP
the
N'
N0
children
362
Exercise 9
b
DP
D'
D0
e
NP
AP
one
N'
N0
PP
e
P'
P0
DP
of
DP
D'
D'
D0
NP
’s
N'
D0
NP
the
N'
N0
N0
books
children
Exercise 9
Meaning 1:
Jane wanted to try on a pair of jeans which was in the shop window.
Meaning 2:
Jane wanted to try it on in the shop window.
One of the constituency tests which you can chose from is pseudo-clefting. A
pseudo-clefted sentence is like that in (1).
(1)
What .... is/was [XP ...].
In (1) the string following the auxiliary is always a phrase. If we apply this test to
the sentence Jane wanted to try on a pair of jeans in the shop window, we get the
following results in meaning 1:
(2)
a. *What Jane wanted to try on in the shop window was [a pair of jeans].
b. What Jane wanted to try on was [a pair of jeans in the shop window].
In meaning 1, the sentence in (2a) is ill-formed. This means that the string a pair of
jeans is no phrase. (2b) is a well-formed sentence, thus the string of words a pair of
363
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 5
jeans in the shop window forms a phrase. It is a DP. Thus the PP in the shop window is
part of the DP in meaning 1.
In meaning 2 the results of the test are the following:
(3)
a. What Jane wanted to try on in the shop window was [a pair of jeans].
b. *What Jane wanted to try on was [a pair of jeans in the shop window].
In meaning 2, (3a) is a well-formed sentence, while (3b) is ill-formed. This means
that the string a pair of jeans forms a DP, while the PP in the shop window is not a part
of the DP.
According to the result of the test above, the structure of the sentence can be
represented as it can be seen in (4). (4a) represents the structure of the sentence with
meaning 1 while (4b) is the structure belonging to meaning 2.
(4)
a. Jane wanted to try on [a pair of jeans] [in the shop window].
b. Jane wanted to try on [a pair of jeans in the shop window].
The string a pair of jeans in the shop window is one phrase in meaning 2 while it is
two separate phrases in meaning 1.
Chapter 5
Check Questions
Q1
Given the meanings of verbs, some events appear to involve more than one subevent, e.g. an action can involve somebody doing something and as a result some
object changes position, or gets into some state, or remains in some state, etc. Aspect
can be grasped from two different angles: lexical aspect is evident in the meaning of
verbs which denote an activity that has a natural beginning and end. Lexical aspect is
internal to the meaning of the verb. Grammatical aspect, on the other hand, relates to
the interpretation of a given event in a particular sentence depending on whether it is
complete or in progress. Furthermore, the two may also be combined.
Q2
Unaccusatives are typically movement or locative verbs, they cannot appear in
causative constructions. They can take an expletive ‘there’ as subject but that does not
count as an argument. They take one argument, a theme, but some of them may
optionally take a locative PP as an argument. They do not take objects, they cannot be
passivised. Intransitives also take one argument but that one argument is either an
agent or an experiencer. They cannot appear in a ‘there’ construction. Some of them
can appear with objects which are termed ‘cognate objects’. They cannot passivise in
English but they can indeed do so in other languages, e.g. in German. Ergatives
typically involve a change of state. They cannot appear in ‘there’ constructions either
but they can in a transitive context as well as in causative constructions, in fact,
causatives manifest the transitive use of an ergative. When an ergative verb is used in a
transitive context, its agent argument is in [Spec, vP] and its theme argument is in
[Spec, VP].
Q3
The difference between a light verb and a thematic verb is reflected in notation
as well: light verbs head vPs while thematic verbs head VPs. While thematic verbs
364
Check Questions
contribute to the meaning of the construction they appear in, the contribution to
meaning made by light verbs is reduced, they can be used in combination with some
noun or verb. [Spec, VP] is associated with the theme argument, [Spec, vP] with the
agent or experiencer argument in a structure. Light verbs can take vPs or VPs as
complements.
Q4
There is evidence semantic in nature: the structure is interpreted as causative,
i.e. there is an agent ‘causer’ argument present that picks up the theta role assigned by
the abstract (empty) light verb head. In languages other than English there may
actually be found overt counterparts of this abstract causative verbal head, e.g. in
Hungarian there is one such morpheme, -ít.
Q5
In passives, a verb loses the ability to assign a theta role to its subject and the
ability to case-mark its object. Under the present analysis, a light verb is responsible
for theta-marking the subject and assigning case to the theme argument in the specifier
position of its thematic VP complement. If there is no light verb in the construction,
neither theta-marking of the subject, nor case-marking of the theme occur. Thus,
passivisation is seen as a process where the light verb responsible for theta-marking
and case-marking is removed and replaced by the passive morpheme. As a result the
theme argument of the thematic verb cannot receive case and moves out of the VP to a
position which is case-marked.
Q6
In order to be able to maintain the UTAH it is assumed that experiencer
transitives contain two light verb projections where both the v head positions contain
abstract (non-overt) bound morphemes that are capable of assigning the relevant theta
roles (agent and experiencer) to their specifier positions. As there are two light verb
projections, one is associated with the agent and the other with the experiencer, hence
there is no reason to assume that the two theta-roles compete for the same structural
position. In these cases the thematic verb moves to adjoin to the lower v head position
(whose specifier is associated with the experiencer role; subsequently, the resulting
complex (V + v) move together to adjoin to the higher light verb head (the v associated
with the agent role). There are examples of English constructions in which there are
light verb layers erected on top of each other. Furthermore, there are languages other
than English, where multiple light verbs are regularly overtly represented, e.g. Urdu.
Q7
Multiple complement constructions involve verbs which take three arguments.
In one type apart from the subject there is a theme and a locative (verbs of placement)
while in the other type apart from the subject there is a theme and a goal/beneficiary
double object constructions). In the text theta-marking light verbs are introduced,
hence accommodating three arguments into the structure is not a problem. The event
structure of these verbs can be broken down into three sub-events. With verbs of
placement, the agent (subject) is introduced in the specifier of the light verb position.
The theme is introduced in the specifier position of the thematic verb and the locative
in the complement position of the thematic verb. With double object constructions, the
goal is generated in the complement position of the thematic verb and the theme is in
the specifier position of the thematic verb. To be able to derive different word orders,
the goal moves into a specifier position between the specifier of the light verb and the
specifier of the thematic verb. As the event structure of the double object construction
365
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 5
involves three sub-events, there are two light verb phrases erected on top of the
thematic verb, thus there is a specifier position available for the goal to move into.
Q8
Clausal complements of verbs can be both finite or non-finite, declarative or
interrogative. When a verb takes a DP and a clausal complement, the DP always
precedes the clause. This is assumed to occur because it receives case from the verb in
the light verb position. If so, the clausal complement cannot have occupied that
position originally. (Clauses are not subject to the Case Filter anyway.) Furthermore,
in some cases the subject of the complement clause depends on the verb in the higher
clause, in cases of Exceptional Case Marking.
Q9
Unaccusative verbs, light verbs, ergative verbs, transitive verbs, intransitive
verbs, multiple complement verbs, verbs with clausal complements, phrasal verbs.
Exercise 1
expletive ‘there’ and ‘it’: a, d, e, f, g, h, i (the subject), j
Exercise 2
In order to determine the subcategory of the verbs in the sentences, the characteristics
of different verb types are listed first.
Unaccusative verbs:
One argument
Theme argument
There construction possible
Locative inversion construction possible
Locative inversion + there construction possible
Ergative verbs:
One argument
Theme/patient argument
There construction not possible
Locative inversion construction not possible
Transitive usage possible
Transitive verbs:
Two arguments
Agent/experiencer and patient/theme arguments
Passivisation possible
Intransitive verbs:
One argument
Agent/experiencer argument
Cognate object possible
No passivisation (at least in English)
366
Exercise 2
Multiple complement verbs:
More than two (usually three) arguments
Dative alternation possible
Locative structure
Based on these features and distributional criteria, subcategories of verbs can be
determined and their syntactic structure can be also provided.
Since the exercise focuses only on the subcategorisation frames of the verbs they
appear in an uninflected form in the trees.
a A face appeared behind the window.
theme argument
There appeared a face behind the window.
Behind the window a face appeared.
Behind the window there appeared a face.
unaccusative
VP
DP
a face
V'
V
PP
appear
behind the window
b Susan sang.
agent argument
Susan sang a song.
intransitive
vP
DP
v'
Susan
v
sing1
VP
v
V'
e
V
t1
367
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 5
c Michael moved my map from the middle.
three arguments
multiple complement verb
vP
DP
v'
Michael
v
move1
VP
v
DP
V'
e my map V
t1
d The bomb blew up.
patient argument
*There blew up the bomb.
*In the prison blew up the bomb.
The terrorists blew up the bomb.
ergative verb
VP
DP
V'
the bomb V
PP
blow
up
e Larry laughed.
agent argument
Larry laughed a cruel laugh.
intransitive
vP
DP
v'
Larry
v
laugh1
e
VP
v
V'
V
t1
368
PP
from the middle
Exercise 2
f Kevin killed Karen.
agent and patient arguments
Karen was killed by Kevin.
transitive
vP
DP
v'
Kevin
v
kill1
VP
v
DP
V'
e
Karen
V
t1
g Ben brought a bulldog for Betty.
three arguments
multiple complement verb
vP
DP
v'
Ben
v
bring1
vP
v
v'
e
v
t1
VP
DP
V'
a bulldog V
t1
369
PP
for Betty
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 5
h Norah knows Nick.
experiencer and theme arguments
transitive
vP
DP
v'
Norah
v
VP
know1
v
DP
V'
e
Nick
V
t1
i The boat sank.
patient argument
*There sank the boat.
*In the Atlantic sank the boat.
The pirates sank the boat.
ergative verb
VP
DP
V'
the boat
V
sink
j A letter lay on the table.
theme argument
There lay a train on the table.
On the table a letter lay.
On the table there lay a letter.
unaccusative
VP
DP
a letter
V'
V
PP
lie
on the table
370
Exercise 2
k The window opened.
theme argument
*There opened the window.
*In the room opened the window.
The guests opened the window.
ergative verb
VP
DP
V'
the window
V
open
l A train arrived at the station.
theme argument
There arrived a train at the station.
At the station a train arrived.
At the station there arrived a train.
unaccusative
VP
DP
a train
V'
V
PP
arrive
at the station
m Walt watered the flowers.
agent and patient arguments
The flowers were watered by Walt.
transitive
vP
DP
v'
Walt
v
water1
VP
v
DP
e the flowers
V'
V
t1
371
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 5
n Dick died.
experiencer argument
Dick died a terrible death.
intransitive
vP
DP
v'
Dick
v
die1
VP
v
V'
e
V
t1
o Gary gave Greg a gift.
three arguments
Gary gave a gift to Greg.
multiple complement verb
vP
DP
v'
Gary
v
give1
vP
v
DP
e
Greg2
v'
v
t1
VP
DP
a gift
372
V'
V
DP
t1
t2
Exercise 3
Exercise 3
Verb
Tense
Aspect
Voice
Form
perfect
progressive
perfect
Person
&
number
3Sg
1Pl
2Sg
see
saw
bring
past
present
future
passive
active
passive
perfect
progressive
perfect
progressive
perfect
progressive
perfect
perfect
progressive
progressive
perfect
perfect
3Pl
2Sg
3Sg
3Pl
3Sg
1Sg
3Sg
2Sg
3Pl
2Pl
3Sg
3Pl
active
active
passive
passive
passive
active
passive
active
passive
active
active
passive
(it) had been seen
(we) are sawing
(you) will have been
brought
(they) have come
(you) were thinking
(it) will have been sung
(they) are being read
(it) had been written
(I) will be eating
(it) had been fallen
(you) have bought
(they) were being told
(you) will be pulling
(he) had gone
(they) will have been
sent
come
think
sing
read
write
eat
fall
buy
tell
pull
go
send
present
past
future
present
past
future
past
present
past
future
past
future
Exercise 4
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
g
h
The boy had a walk.
I answered the question.
The professor made a comment on my essay.
She never looks at him.
We drank together.
The professor gave a speech on the economic situation of China.
Everyone involved in the project contributed to the exercises.
She has finally made a decision. or She has finally taken a decision.
Exercise 5
Phrasal verbs can be distinguished from verbs taking a PP complement in the
following ways:
– Reorganisation of arguments is possible for some phrasal verbs but is
impossible for verbs with PP complement;
– Topicalisation of PP is possible for verbs with PP complements but is
impossible for phrasal verbs;
– Modification of the preposition is possible for verbs with PP complements
but is usually impossible for phrasal verbs;
– Coordination is possible for verbs with PP complements but is impossible for
phrasal verbs.
373
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 5
The tests can be applied in the following way.
(1)
a Reorganisation of arguments: *Lawrence lived Liverpool in.
Topicalisation: In Liverpool, Lawrence lived.
Modification: Lawrence lived right in Liverpool.
Coordination: Lawrence lived in Liverpool and in London.
verb taking a PP complement
(1)
b Reorganisation of arguments: *My neighbour takes my uncle after.
Topicalisation: *After my uncle my neighbour takes.
Modification: *My neighbour takes right after my uncle.
Coordination: *My neighbour takes after my uncle and after his father.
phrasal verb
(1)
c Reorganisation of arguments: *We must make this list up.
Topicalisation: *Up this list we must make.
Modification: *We must make just up this list.
Coordination: *We must make up this list and out that book.
phrasal verb
(1)
d Reorganisation of arguments: *He ran the hill up.
Topicalisation: Up the hill he ran.
Modification: He ran right up the hill.
Coordination: He ran up the hill and down the slope.
verb taking a PP complement
(1)
e Reorganisation of arguments: We have done the buttons up on our coats.
Topicalisation: *Up the buttons we have done on our coats.
Modification: *We have done just up the buttons on our coats.
Coordination: *We have done up the buttons and without our passport.
phrasal verb
(1)
f Reorganisation of arguments: *He came of his office out.
Topicalisation: Out of his office he came.
Modification: He came right put of his office.
Coordination: He came out of his office and into the hall.
verb taking a PP complement
(1)
g Reorganisation of arguments: *Suddenly she broke tears into.
Topicalisation: *Suddenly into tears she broke.
Modification: *Suddenly she broke just into tears.
Coordination: *Suddenly she broke into tears and with her friend.
phrasal verb
374
Exercise 6
(1)
h Reorganisation of arguments: *The prisoner did his mate in.
Topicalisation: *In his mate the prisoner did.
Modification: *The prisoner did right his mate.
Coordination: *The prisoner did in his mate and over a guard.
phrasal verb
(1)
i Reorganisation of arguments: Guards broke the fight up.
Topicalisation: *Up the fight guards broke.
Modification: *Guards broke right up the fight.
Coordination: Guards broke up the fight and with the prisoners.
phrasal verb
(1)
j Reorganisation of arguments: The workers pulled the old building down.
Topicalisation: *Down the old building the workers pulled.
Modification: *The workers pulled right down the old building.
Coordination: *The workers pulled down the old building and apart the walls.
phrasal verb
Exercise 6
The event structure of the sentence is represented in (1).
(1)
e = e1 → e2 :
e1 = ‘John did something’
e2 = ‘the window closed’
The sentence is ambiguous because the adjunct again can modify either e1 or e2. If
it modifies e1 then the sentence means that John closed the window then somebody
opened it and John closed it again. If e2 is modified by the adjunct again then only e2
happened again while e1 happened only once. Thus the sentence means that somebody
(but not John) opened the window, then somebody closed it and then John opened it
again. So in the first interpretation John opens the window twice while in the second
interpretation only once.
The structure representing meaning 1 can be seen in (2) while meaning 2 is
represented in (3)showing the verbal projection only.
In meaning 1 again modifies e1, so it is adjoined to vP. In meaning 2 only e2 is
modified by the adjunct, so again is adjoined to VP.
375
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 6
(2)
vP
vP
AP
DP
v'
John
again
v
close1
VP
v
DP
V'
e the window
V
t1
(3)
vp
DP
v'
John
v
close1
VP
v
e
VP
DP
the window
AP
V' again
V
t1
Exercise 7
agents: a, d, i; themes: b, f, j; experiencers: c, e, h, the expletive subject in g has no
theta-role
Chapter 6
Check Questions
Q1
As a preliminary assumption it may be assumed that finite clauses contain finite
inflection. What this amounts to is that in a finite clause there is agreement with the
subject in number and person, and there is some independent tense marking available as
well. In a non-finite clause agreement with the subject is not so straightforward, and its
tense will depend on the tense of some other finite clause. Less traditionally speaking,
another diagnostic to distinguish between the two clause-types is the form of the
complementiser introducing them: finite clauses can occur with that while non-finite
clauses with for. This is somewhat unreliable, though, as not all non-finite clauses can
occur with for, this is only to say that if a clause can, then it is non-finite. Thirdly, finite
clauses can occur in isolation or as embedded clauses, while non-finite clauses can only
376
Check Questions
occur in embedded context. In addition, a further property finite clauses they do not
share with non-finite clauses is their ability to contain modals – modals are excluded
from non-finite clauses. Lastly, the subject of a finite clause is in nominative Case while
the subject of a non-finite clause is in accusative, or phonologically empty.
Q2
It is proposed as a preliminary assumption that the Inflection head contains the
bound morphemes 3sg -s, past tense -ed, modals and infinitival to. As a result,
different clauses distribute differently depending on the inflectional element they
contain. Secondly, it seems that the inflection behaves like a head in that it restricts its
complement to vP or VP. Thirdly, it also behaves like a head in that it influences the
Case form of its subject: nominative in finite and accusative in non-finite clauses. In
addition, similarly to the other functional head D, the I head also displays agreement
with its specifier, the subject.
Q3
There are theoretically two alternatives: either it is the morphemes -s and -ed,
-ing and -en that move (lower onto the verb) or the verb moves up. It is assumed that
English verbal stems cannot host more than one bound morpheme, hence in a clause
that contains aspectuals (which head their own vP), the thematic V moves and picks up
the lower bound morpheme but as it is unable to host more, an aspectual (be or have or
even both if need be) are inserted to pick up the aspectual morphemes.
Q4
The I head takes a vP or VP complement. When there is negation present in a
structure but no other verb apart from the lexical verb, it seems that the presence of the
negative particle not blocks movement of the verb to pick up the bound morpheme,
hence a dummy auxiliary is inserted. That the presence of the negative particle seems
to block movement is supported by the fact that when there are more than one
auxiliaries in a structure it is always the modal (or the leftmost) that moves to form a
question. This observation is formulated as the Head Movement Constraint: a head
cannot skip an intervening head position when it moves. In negation the negative
element intervenes between the bound morpheme to be picked up and the verb, hence
do is inserted. In languages other than English where a verb is not restricted to hosting
only one bound morpheme, we find paradigms where a bound inflectional morpheme
does actually occur attached to the head. For this reason it is also proposed that the
negative is in fact a variety on light verb constructions and is best be analysed as one.
Q5
Aspect markers are analysed as morphemes heading their own vP, while
aspectual auxiliaries are inserted in the I head position.
Q6
At the beginning of the chapter the implicit assumption about what the
Inflection head hosts was that it manifests Tense and Agreement. There is evidence
that it only contains agreement. Tense and infinitival to are separate from it. One piece
of evidence that Tense can be seen as a separate entity is provided by the observation
that modals, which are truly Inflectional elements, can inflect for tense in English.
Tense is proposed to head its own vP taking another vP as a complement. When there
is -ed present, there is a phonologically null agreement morpheme in I. In present tense
the form of the tense morpheme is realised as -s when the agreement is third person
singular and as a zero morpheme when the agreement is something else.Thus, what is
left for the I head is agreement manifested either as a modal or as -s or as a
phonologically empty morpheme.
377
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 6
Q7
Both negation and VP adverbs can precede the tense element but they can never
precede the modal in I. Furthermore, neither negation nor VP adverbs can adjoin to a
VP whose head has moved out of it. VP adverbs can also adjoin to any vP while
negation will have to appear between the tense vP and the rest of the vP or VP. In
addition a VP adverb can also be adjoined to I-bar (i.e. it does appear before a tensed
verb) when there are only two options available for it in a clause: either it precedes
tense or follows the thematic verb. This situation arises in clauses that contain only one
verb form (e.g. They always met in the park).
Q8
The head of a light verb vP assigns a theta role whereas the head of tense vP
does not, thus the specifier position of the latter, but not the former, is always empty.
Q9
Nominative case found on subjects of finite clauses is assumed to be assigned
under specifier–head agreement. Accusative case, on the other hand, is assumed to
involve a specific relationship between case-assigner and case-assignee: government.
Thus, it seems that no unitary configuration exists for case assignment: it can appear
both to the left and to the right.
Exercise 1
Following the Case Filter, which states that all DPs must have Case, we have to
assume that these DPs have case. Case assigners are verbs, prepositions and the finite
inflection. Case assigners must be ‘close’ enough to the DP to be able to assign case to
it. Finite I can assign nominative Case to its specifier position only, while verbs and
prepositions can assign accusative Case to their complement DP or to the DP in the
specifier position of their complement.
a)
In sentence John met Mary in the park there are four DPs. The DP John has
nominative Case as when it is substituted with a pronoun that displays overt Case
marking the pronoun has nominative Case in this position. Nominative Case is
assigned by the finite inflection, as nominative Case is available only for subject DPs
in finite clauses. The DP ‘Mary’ has accusative Case assigned by the verb. The DP
‘the park’ gets accusative Case from the preposition ‘in’.
b)
In sentence For me to survive this week will be quite difficult there are two DPs,
both in the subject subordinate clause. The subject DP has no nominative Case. As we
have seen earlier non-finite I filled with the infinitival marker to cannot assign Case, at
all. In fact, the DP does not have nominative Case. It has accusative Case assigned by
the complementiser for. The object DP of the subordinate clause gets Case from the
verb survive.
c)
In sentence Everybody goes to see the painting the subject DP everybody gets
nominative Case from the finite I of the sentence. The object DP is assigned accusative
by the verb see.
d)
Sentence John persuaded Bill to go to see a doctor is a complex sentence. Its
structure is superficially very similar to sentence (1b), but the structure of the two
sentences is not identical. The verb persuade has three arguments. It has an agent, a
patient and a proposition argument. The agent DP gets nominative Case from the finite
378
Exercise 2
I. Bill gets accusative Case from the verb persuade. Notice that while expect in
sentence (1b) assigns accusative Case to the specifier position of its propositional
complement, persuade assigns accusative to its complement. Finally the DP a doctor
is assigned accusative Case by the verb see.
e)
In sentence Mary gave a book to John for Xmas there are four DPs. The agent
DP gets nominative Case from the finite I of the sentence. The patient DP a book is
assigned accusative Case by the verb, the goal argument is assigned Case by the
preposition to and the DP Xmas is assigned Case by the preposition for.
Exercise 2
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
g
h
i
j
k
l
question-forming + main verb
emphasis + negation
main verb
negation + tag question
question-forming
emphasis
negation
tag question
main verb
main verb
main verb
negation
Exercise 3
nom
acc
acc
acc
a [Jim] I0 sent [a bunch of [flowers]] to [Jane].
acc
acc
acc
acc
b For [Jim] not to buy [the house] at [a lower price] wasn’t [the best decision
acc
in [his life]].
nom
nom
acc
c [The teacher] I0 believed that [all his students] would pass [the exam].
nom
acc
d [All the students] were believed to pass [the exam].
379
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 6
nom
acc
e [John] will never trust [Jane].
nom
acc
nom
f [Which experiment]2 did1 [the professor] e1 mean e2 when [he] I0 asked
nom
acc
whether [we] were able to do [it]?
nom
acc
acc
g [John] I0 read [an interesting book about [the cold war]].
nom
nom
acc
h [It] was raining when [I] I0 looked out of [the window].
nom
acc
acc
i [The children] I0 wanted [it] to be snowing during [the whole day].
nom
acc
acc
j [Jane] I0 believed [Jack] to be able to repair [the car].
Nominative Case is always assigned by finite inflection. Sometimes the I0 head is
not occupied by any sound material, as in sentences (1a), (1c), (1g), (1h), (1i) and (1j).
In other cases it is occupied by a modal auxiliary (modal auxiliaries are inherently
finite) or by the verbs be, have or do (in which case it is still the zero inflectional
morpheme that assigns case). In some cases like in sentence (1f), the I0 moves further
to a higher position. In this case the Case is assigned by the trace of the auxiliary (it is
assigned by the auxiliary before it moves). Sometimes DPs move further after
receiving Case like the DP which experiment in sentence (1f). Here the chain receives
Case only once, only the foot of the chain (the trace of the DP) is in a Case-marked
position. Accusative Case is assigned by verbs and prepositions to their complement
DPs. Some verbs and the complementiser for are able to assign accusative Case to the
subject position of their complement IPs, as in sentences (1b), (1i) and (1j). Passive
verbs are not able to assign case to their complement DPs, thus these DPs have to
move in order to receive Case.
380
Exercise 4
Exercise 4
a)
In the sentence John’s message arrived the verb arrive is an unaccusative
verb, which takes only one argument, assigning a theme thematic role to it. The
argument is in the specifier position of the VP in the D-structure. Since DPs need
Case, it has to move to the specifier of the IP, where it gets nominative Case from the
finite I head. The higher vP in the structure hosts the tense morpheme -ed, which the
lexical verb picks up on its way to I.
(1)
CP
C'
C
IP
DP1
I'
John’s message I
vP
arrive2+ed3
v'
v
t2+t3
VP
t1
V'
V
t2
381
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 6
b)
In the sentence David made the ball roll to the wall there are two verbs. Made
is a light verb while roll is a thematic verb. The light verb sits in the v head while the
thematic verb occupies the V head. The verb roll takes a DP argument, assigning a
theme thematic role to it and a PP argument with a goal thematic role. The light verb
made hosts an argument DP, assigning an agent thematic role to it. The DP the wall
will be assigned Case by the preposition to. The theme argument the ball gets its
accusative Case from the v. The DP David cannot be assigned Case in its base
position, so it has to move to the specifier of the IP to get Case from the finite I head.
The vP on top of the agentive vP contains the tense morpheme. The verb picks up the ed ending on its way to I.
(2)
CP
C'
C
IP
DP1
I'
David I
vP
made2+3 t1
v'
v
vP
t2+t3
t1
v'
v
t2
VP
DP
V'
the ball V
roll
382
PP
to the wall
Exercise 4
c)
The sentence David rolled the ball to the wall is similar in its structure to that
in (b), but here we find no overt light verb in the v head position. Actually, the v head
is occupied by an abstract light verb represented by e in the structure below. The
arguments are the same and Case is assigned to them the same way as described
above. The main difference is that the abstract light verb is a bound morpheme, which
requires the main verb to move to the v position. The verb roll then moves on to the
tense vP and I picking up the tense and agreement morphemes.
(3)
CP
C'
C
IP
DP2
David I
I'
vP
roll1+ed3
v'
v
vP
t1+t3 t2
v'
v
t1
VP
DP
V'
the ball V
t1
383
PP
to the wall
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 6
d)
In the sentence John sank Jim’s boat the theme argument is in the specifier of
the VP, while the agent occupies the specifier of the vP in the D-structure. In the Sstructure, the agent DP has to move to a position where Case can be assigned to it.
This position is the specifier of IP. The main verb sink has to move as well since the
abstract light verb e is a bound morpheme, which requires the main verb to move to v,
tense v and then to I.
(4)
CP
C'
C
IP
DP1
John
I'
I
vP
sank2
v'
v
t2
vP
t1
v'
v
t2
VP
DP
V'
Jim’s boat
V
t2
384
Exercise 4
e)
The verb sink is an ergative verb. Ergative verbs are similar to unaccusatives
insofar as they take a theme argument, which occupies the specifier of the VP. The
difference is that in sentences which contain an ergative verb, an agent can also be
present. We could see this in sentence (d), where we had the agent DP John. If the
agent is not there, the vP will not be projected either. It is actually the abstract light
verb in v which requires an agent DP in (4). If there is no v, no agent argument is
required. The only argument of the verb cannot receive Case in its base position as it
did in (4) since in this structure there is no v head which can assign accusative Case.
The I head is not a possible assigner of accusative Case. So the DP Jim’s boat has to
move to the specifier of IP, where the I head assigns nominative Case to it. The
themtic verb also moves, first to the tense v, then to I to agree with the subject.
(5)
CP
C'
C
IP
DP1
I'
Jim’s boat I
vP
sank2+3
v'
v
t2+t3
VP
t1
V'
V
t2
385
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 6
Jim’s boat was sunk is a passive sentence. The main verb is sink, occupying
f)
the V head in the D-structure. Now v is not occupied by an abstract light verb as in (4)
but by the passive morpheme -en. The main difference between a light verb and the
passive morpheme is that the passive morpheme does not take an agent argument and
it cannot assign Case to the DP occupying the specifier position of the VP. Since the
DP has to receive Case, it has to move to the specifier of IP, where the finite I head
assigns nominative Case to it. The passive morpheme in v is a bound morpheme, so
the main verb is required to adjoin to it. The other vP in the structure is the tense vP
where be is inserted to support the past tense morpheme (remember, in English a
thematic verb is not allowed to have more than one inflectional morpheme, so it cannot
move to support a second bound morpheme after having moved to the passive vP).
Finally, the verb ends up in the I head position.
(6)
CP
C'
C
IP
DP1
I'
Jim’s boat I
vP
was3
v'
v
vP
t3
v'
v
sink2
v
-en
VP
t1
V'
V
t2
386
Exercise 4
g)
In the sentence Bill caught a bird the main verb catch is a transitive verb. The
subject is an agent, the object a patient. Since the vP is the extended projection of V,
we can say that the DP in the specifier of the vP receives its thematic role indirectly
from the main verb. The abstract light verb is a bound morpheme, which requires the
main verb to adjoin to it. The DP in the specifier of the VP is assigned Case by the
light verb. The other DP in the specifier of the vP also needs Case. Since that position
is not a position to which Case is assigned, it has to move to the specifier of IP, where
it receives Case from the finite I. The verb catch moves to tense v and then to I.
(7)
CP
C'
C
IP
I'
DP1
Bill
I
vP
caught2
v'
v
t2
vP
t1
v'
v
t2
VP
DP
V'
a bird
V
t2
387
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 6
h)
The sentence in The bird was caught is passive. The main verb takes a theme
argument. The v head is occupied by the passive morpheme -en, which does not assign
accusative Case to the DP in the specifier of the VP and it does not assign an agent
thematic role to its own specifier position either. That is why there is no agent
argument in this sentence. Since the passive morpheme is a bound morpheme, the
main verb has to move to v. The theme DP in the specifier of the VP needs to be
assigned Case, so it moves to the specifier of IP in order to receive Case from the finite
I. A higher tense vP is also projected where the dummy auxiliary be is inserted to
support the bound tense morpheme. At the S-structure the auxiliary moves on to the I
head.
(8)
CP
C'
C
IP
I'
DP1
the bird
I
vP
was3
v'
v
vP
t3
v'
v
catch2
v
-en
VP
t1
V'
V
t2
388
Exercise 4
i)
The verb cough in the sentence Sam coughed is an intransitive verb.
Intransitive verbs take only one argument which is usually an agent. Since the specifier
of the VP is the position of the theme argument according to the UTAH, this position
is empty in this structure. The agent thematic role is assigned by the light verb to the
specifier position of the vP. So the base position of the agent argument is in the
specifier of the vP. Since this is no Case position, the DP has to move on to the
specifier of the IP in order to receive Case from the finite I head. The thematic verb
moves to the tense v and then frther on to I.
(9)
CP
C'
C
IP
DP1
Sam
I'
I
vP
cough2+ ed3
v'
v
t2+t3
vP
t1
v'
v
VP
t2
V'
V
t2
389
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 6
j)
The sentence in the sentence John sent a message to Mary is traditionally
called the dative construction. The main verb send is in the V head and assigns a theme
thematic role to the DP a message in the specifier of the VP and a goal thematic role to
its complement PP. The vP is an extended projection of the VP, so the main verb
assigns an agent thematic role indirectly via the v to the DP in the specifier of the vP.
The DP Mary receives accusative Case from the preposition to while the DP a
message gets its accusative Case from the v head. Since the light verb is a bound
morpheme, the main verb adjoins to the v head and then moves on to the tense v and I
to agree with the subject. The DP in the specifier of the vP needs to be assigned Case
as well, so it has to move to the specifier of the IP.
(10)
CP
C'
C
IP
DP1
I'
John
I
vP
sent2+3
v'
v
vP
t2+t3 t1
v'
v
t2
VP
DP
V'
a messageV
t2
PP
to Mary
k)
The sentence Mary was sent a message is a passive sentence with the so
called double object construction. The main verb is in V in the D-structure. The theme
argument a message occupies the specifier of the VP, the agent DP is absent in passive
structures, the vP hosting the agentive DP is replaced by the passive vP. The third
argument DP is in the complement position of the main verb and it is assigned a goal
thematic role by the verb. The DP a message receives accusative Case in its base
position, so it does not have to move. The DP Mary, however, needs to move to a Case
position. First it moves to the specifier of the lower vP, which is the position for DPs
with a goal thematic role in double-object constructions. In an active sentence, the DP
Mary can stop in this position, since it can receive Case here as it can be attested in the
sentence in (11).
(11)
John sent Mary a message.
390
Exercise 4
In our sentence, this position cannot be the final position of the DP Mary the v
head of the middle vP is occupied by the passive morpheme -en, which does not assign
accusative Case. So the DP has to move on to the next position where it has a chance
to receive Case. This position is the specifier of IP, where the finite I head assigns
nominative Case to it. The main verb has to adjoin to the lower v, which is an abstract
bound morpheme. This complex head has to move on to the middle v head containing
the passive morpheme, which is also a bound morpheme. The upper vP is the tense vP
where be is inserted as a dummy auxiliary as the thematic verb cannot move further on
from the passive vP. Be together with the tense morpheme moves on to I containing
the zero agreement morpheme.
(12)
CP
C'
C
IP
DP1
I'
Mary I
vP
was4
v'
v
vP
t4
v'
v
v3
send2 v
e
v
-en
vP
t1
v'
v
VP
DP
V'
a message
V
t3
t2
391
t1
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 6
l)
In the sentence Jim took his shoes off we find a phrasal verb take off. The
main verb take occupies the V head, assigning a theme thematic role to the DP in its
specifier position and it also takes a PP complement, which consists of a mere head.
The agent DP occupies the specifier of the vP. The v head is occupied by an abstract
light verb, which is a bound morpheme requiring the main verb to adjoin to it. The
agent DP has to move to the specifier of the IP in order to receive nominative Case
from the finite I head. From the lower vP the verb moves on to the tense vP and I.
(13)
CP
C'
C
IP
DP1
Jim
I'
I
vP
v'
took2+3
v
vp
t2+t3 t1
v'
v
VP
t2
DP
V'
his shoes
V
PP
t2
P'
P
off
392
Exercise 4
m)
In the sentence Jim took off his shoes we also find the phrasal verb take off,
but here the preposition off precedes the DP his shoes. The structure of the sentence
can be derived from the structure in (13). The only difference between the two
derivations is that the preposition adjoins to the main verb before it moves to the v
head. The rest of the derivation is the same as in (13).
(14)
CP
C'
C
IP
DP1
Jim
I'
I
vP
took3+4 off2
v'
v
vP
t3+t4+t2 t1
v'
v
VP
t3+t2 DP
V'
his shoesV
t3+t2
PP
P'
P
t2
393
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 6
n)
In the sentence John thinks that Jim knows that Mary gave his book to Jane there
is a verb think which takes a clause as its argument. In this clause there is a verb know
which again takes a clause as an argument. The verb think assigns two thematic roles: an
experiencer to the DP John, which occupies the specifier of the vP in the D-structure, and a
propositional, which is assigned to the CP in the specifier position of the VP. The DP John
has to move to the specifier position of the IP in order to get Case from the finite I head.
There is an abstract light verb in the v head which requires the main verb to adjoin to it.
The CP is in a Case position but CPs do not need to be assigned Case, moreover, CPs avoid
Case positions, so the CP moves rightwards and adjoins to the VP. Inside this clause the V
head is occupied by the verb know, which takes two arguments: an experiencer in the
specifier of the vP, which moves to the specifier of the IP for Case, and a propositional,
which is a CP and occupies the specifier position of the VP. The verb adjoins to the light
verb. The CP is again in a Case position, and moves to the right adjoining to the VP. Inside
the CP, the V is occupied by the verb give. Give takes three arguments: an agent in the
specifier of the vP, a theme in the specifier of the VP and a goal PP in the complement
position of the verb. The DP Mary moves to the specifier of the IP, while the DP his book
receives Case in its base position from the v head. The DP Jane is assigned Case in its base
position by the preposition to. Besides all this the thematic verbs undergo the usual
movements to the tense v and then to I, which appears in a simplified form in the tree to
avoid a really disturbing abundance of traces (notice, however, that e.g. knows is made up
of two morphemes, know and -s, so there should be two traces in tense v).
(15)
CP
C'
C
IP
DP1
John
I'
I
vP
thinks2
v'
v
t2
vP
t1
v'
v
VP
t2
VP
t3
V'
V
t2
394
CP3
Exercise 4
CP3
C'
C
that
IP
DP
Jim
I'
I
vP
knows6
v'
v
t6
vP
t4
v'
v
VP
t6
VP
t5
V'
V
t6
395
CP5
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 7
CP5
C'
C
that
IP
I'
DP7
Mary
I
vP
gave8
v'
v
t8
vP
t7
v'
v
t8
VP
DP
V'
his book V
PP
t8 to Jane
Chapter 7
Check Quesions
Q1
The set of complementizers in English include the words if, that and for
(disregarding any non-overt complementizer for the time being). These elements
introduce clauses and determine what is called the ’force’ of the clause, i.e. whether
the clause is a statement (declarative) or a question (interrogative). Thus, if introduces
interrogative while that and for declarative clauses. The latter two differ in terms of
whether the clause they introduce is finite (that) or non-finite (for). Complementizers
are not part of basic clause structure (i.e. the IP) but they form a constituent with it.
The force, in other words a salient property of a clause is determined by the
complementizer, thus it can be argued that they are heads determining the properties of
the structure they head (compare if they should leave vs that they should leave vs for
them to leave). Heads select their complements and indeed, complementizers select the
type of IP they subcategorise for. Another head-like property manifested by
complementizers is that they are word-level categories and not phrases, followed by
their complement phrase (the IP) which renders them strikingly similar to other
functional heads taking only one type of complement.
396
Check Quesions
Q2
Main clauses in English, although it is preferable for them to be conceptualised
as CPs, are never introduced by an overt complementizer. Nevertheless, given that the
clause is interpreted either as declarative or interrogative, the presence of a non-overt
complementizer is justified. Finite declarative object clauses may or may not contain
an overt complementizer (Peter knew (that) Mary left) in line with the assumption that
they are CPs. Subordinate subject clauses, on the other hand, must contain an overt
complementizer (That Mary left surprised everyone).
Q3
Canonical structural realisation principles underlie the observation that certain
arguments are typically realised by certain structures. More specifically, theme
arguments are usually realised as DPs, location arguments as PPs and propositional
arguments as CPs. This way it may be claimed that verbs which select for a finite
declarative complement select for a CP rather than an IP. It must be noted that there
are exceptions to canonical structural realisation principles, i.e. there are non-canonical
realisations, e.g. when a nominal realises a goal argument which is usually realised by
a PP (e.g. home).
Q4
On one hand, there are certain verbs that take (non-finite) complement clauses
that do not contain complementizers (these also lack overt subjects, e.g. try, attempt,
promise, etc.), on the other hand, there are finite complement clauses which contain a
wh-phrase but not an overt complementizer (e.g. He didn’t know what to do). It is
assumed that in these cases there is a non-overt element in the complementizer
position.
Q5
It suggests that these elements occupy the same position, i.e. the C head
position.
Q6
In an embedded yes-no question the presence of the interrogative
complementizer determines the force of the clause, i.e. that it is interpreted as a
question. In an embedded wh-question there is no overt element occupying the C head
position and [Spec, CP] is occupied by the wh-element itself. Nevertheless, the clause
is interpreted as interrogative. Given assumptions about specifier-head agreement
observed elsewhere, it may be assumed that although the element in the C head
position is non-overt, it has the [+wh] feature and that is what the wh-element in the
[Spec, CP] position agrees with. Thus, it is necessary for the wh-element to appear in
the [Spec, CP] position to manifest this specifier-head agreement relationship. For this
reason a wh-element is seen as an operator necessary to promote the interpretation of a
clause. In echo-questions the wh-element remains in its base position and the structure
is not interpreted as a question, instead, it is interpreted as a device to provide missing
information. A wh-element is only interpreted as an operator if it has moved into the
[Spec, CP] position. In multiple wh-questions only one wh-element moves, the other
remains in situ. The interpretation of the non-moved wh-element as an operator
depends on the presence or absence of a moved wh-element in the same clause (The
interpretative principle: Interpret a wh-element as an operator if it is in [Spec, CP] or is
coindexed with a wh-element in [Spec, CP].).
397
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 7
Q7
Operators are elements that indicate a process necessary in order to be able to
work out the meaning of a clause that contains them. For example, fronted whelements are operators as they signify that the clause should be interpreted as
interrogative, or ’whether’ is analysed as a general interrogative operator introducing
subordinate yes-no questions similarly to its non-overt counterpart appearing in matrix
yes-no questions. (Quantificational pronouns like ’everyone’ or ’someone’ are also
operators).
Q8
A-movement (A=argument) is case-motivated (grammatically motivated), e.g.
subject-movement, and the element moving is an argument that ands in an argument
position, while A-bar movement (movement of an argument or non-argument to a nonargument position) is semantically motivated, e.g. wh-movement where the
interpretation of the clause as interrogative is due to the wh-element moving.
Q9
According to one the motivation behind I-to-C movement is that in
interrogative clauses there is a non-overt bound morpheme occupying the C head
position and movement of the element in I is necessary to support that bound
morpheme. According to the other set of assumptions, I-to-C movement is triggered by
the C head position being empty and the requirement that it be filled. The element in I
moves to satisfy that requirement. It is assumed that a main clause interrogative, where
I-to-C movement occurs, cannot contain an overt complementizer (as opposed to
embedded interrogatives). But the clause has to be marked as interrogative, thus the
auxiliary moves to the empty head position, thereby providing a head the wh-element
in [Spec, CP] position can agree with.
Q10 ‘Whether’ differs from other complementizers in that it can introduce both
finite and non-finite clauses. Secondly, as opposed to other complementizers, it can be
coordinated with the negative particle not. In Old English ‘whether’ was used to
introduce yes-no questions, yet Old English clauses were not introduced by
complementizers, so ‘whether’ is assumed not to be one either. Although ‘whether’ is
similar to wh-elements in that they can also introduce finite and non-finite clauses (e.g.
what he should do – what to do; whether he should go – whether (or not) to go), it
differs from wh-elements in that unlike wh-phrases, it is not associated with a gap
inside the clause containing it.
Q11 It is a constraint that bans the co-occurrence of an overt wh-operator and an
overt complementizer in a CP. It can contain only either one or the other, even though
the two are not generated in the same structural position.
Q12 (i) Subjects precede the verb; (ii) the negative particle follows the finite tense
and precedes the verb; (iii) adverbs follow the finite tense and precede the verb.
Q13 Regarding their interpretation, restrictive relative clauses pick and focus on one
element out of a set of elements while non-restrictive relatives add extra information
about the noun they modify. Structurally, restrictive relative clauses may contain a whpronoun or a complementizer or a non-overt element, while non-restrictives can and
must contain a wh-pronoun. A further difference between the two types of relative
clause is that non-restrictives must be inserted between commas or dashes (in speech
there is a pause preceding them). Fourthly, non-restrictives appear to be more distant
398
Check Quesions
structurally from the noun they modify than restrictives as only restrictives can be part
of one-pronominalisation together with the noun they modify. Both types can be
coordinated with identical constituents, though, and both are analysed as adjuncts with
the non-restrictive relative clause being attached further away from the noun head than
the restrictive.
Q14 An interrogative pronoun has the feature [+wh] while a relative pronoun has the
feature [-wh]. ‘What’ as an interrogative pronoun is associated with non-animate
referents, while ‘what’ as a relative pronoun used in dialects is not. ‘What’ as a relative
pronoun can only introduce so-called headless relatives in standard English.
Q15 It can only be used in finite clauses while relative pronouns may introduce both
finite and non-finite clauses. It does not allow pied-piping, i.e. it must be separated
from a preposition it is the complement of (e.g. the man with whom they talked – the
man whom they talked with - *the man with that they met – the man that they talked
with). As ‘that’ is a complementizer, there is no associated gap of the moved element
after the preposition.
Q16 If the wh-element is part of a PP, there are two options as to the way it can
move: along with the preposition, i.e. the whole PP moves (pied-piping, e.g. with
whom did you leave) or separate from the preposition (preposition stranding, e.g. who
did you leave with).
Q17 There are three main types of relative clauses, wh-relatives, that-relatives and
zero-relatives. Wh-relatives contain an overt wh-pronoun associated with a trace of the
noun head in the nominal structure while that-relatives and zero-relatives contain the
non-overt counterpart (a null operator) of the relative pronoun associated with the trace
of the noun. Besides, there are the so-called headless relatives that apear to lack
amodified noun head, but they also have the distribution of a DP so they shuld be
analysed as such: [whoever you support] will be promoted
Q18 Topic: it denotes information that is already part of the discourse or is easily
identifiable by the participants on the basis of the context or general knowledge (socalled ‘old-information’). Focus: the stressed element that carries new information.
Comment: information that follows the topic (so-called ‘new information’).
Q19 Matrix clauses: topicalised elements (potentially more than one) + wh-element.
Embedded clauses: wh-element + topicalised elements.
Q20
Topicalisation, focus-fronting and negative-fronting.
Q21 The inverted auxiliary in negative–fronting structures precedes the inverted
auxiliary but follows the complementizer.
Q22 The topic precedes the fronted negative. The topic also precedes the focus. The
fronted negative is in complementary distribution with the focus.
399
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 7
Exercise 1
Nominative case is given by the finite inflection, that is, an inflection that is tensed.
Accusative case can be given by either a transitive verb or a preposition.
DP
it
me
the door
Jane
the keys
the professor
me
an essay
her
Jack
America
January
Kim
this exercise
I
Peter
his family
the thief
Case
nominative
accusative
accusative
nominative
accusative
nominative
accusative
accusative
accusative
nominative
accusative
accusative
accusative
accusative
nominative
accusative
accusative
nominative
Case assigner
is (+tense I on be)
for
close
I + tense
stolen
I + tense
expects
write
for
has (+tense I on have)
to
since
for
understand
I + tense
expect
visit
I + tense
Exercise 2
a The letter was sent to the government last night.
passivisation
D-structure: [e] was sent [DP the letter] to the government last night
S-structure: the letter1 was sent t1 to the government last night
b Interesting books, I often read.
topicalisation
D-structure: [e] I often read [DP interesting books]
S-structure: interesting books1 I often read t1
c Can you lend me your umbrella?
Subject–auxiliary inversion (yes–no question)
D-structure: [e] you can lend me your umbrella
S-structure: can1 you t1 lend me your umbrella
d In this garden, you can have a rest.
topicalisation
D-structure: [e] you can have a rest [PP in this garden]
S-structure: in this garden1 you can have a rest t1
400
Exercise 3
e Has John ever been caught in the act?
passivisation and subject–auxiliary inversion (yes–no question)
D-structure before passivisation: [e] has ever been caught [DP John] in the act
D-structure after passivisation but before subject–auxiliary inversion:
[e] John1 has ever been caught t1 in the act
S-structure: has2 John1 t2 ever been caught t1 in the act
f A proposal has been handed in for the educational reform.
passivisation and extraposition
D-structure before passivisation:
[e] has been handed in [DP a proposal for the educational reform]
D-structure after passivisation but before extraposition:
a proposal for the educational reform1 has been handed in t1
S-structure: [a proposal t2]1 has been handed in t1 for the educational reform2
Exercise 3
If an adverb can be placed between the auxiliary and the main verb, it is a VP adverb.
If it precedes the modal auxiliary, it is a sentential adverb.
a The sentence can be reformulated in the following way: It was a clever thing
that Agatha answered the question (no matter whether the answer was correct
or not).
sentential adverb
b Ron may hardly go to the cinema.
*Ron hardly may go to the cinema.
VP adverb
c Suddenly, she may burst into tears.
sentential adverb
d Agatha may cleverly answer the question.
The sentence can be reformulated in the following way: Agatha’s answer to
the question was correct. (In fact, with a special intonational pattern, with a
pause before and after cleverly and also stress on the adverb there is a
sentential adverb interpretation avaliable, too. However, in writing this is
indicated by commas preceding and following the adverb.)
VP adverb
e It is certain that they will go to America for holiday.
sentential adverb
f The student has thoroughly rewritten her thesis.
*The student thoroughly has rewritten her thesis.
VP adverb
g The king should often visit the neighbouring countries.
*The king often should visit the neighbouring countries.
VP adverb
401
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 7
Exercise 4
(1)
a WH-movement
reside'is an unaccusative verb so in this case
The verb live when used in the sense of '
it would not have an agentive vP above it which introduces the subject. The subject in
this sentence has the theta role of theme, so it is base-generated in the specifier
position of VP. The vP above VP hosts the tense morpheme -s that the lexical verb
picks up on its way to C. As discussed in the text movement of the lexical verb to C is
possible as long as it appears after the subject, and this is exactly the case in subject
questions. So the verb moves from V to v first, then to I, then to C. The movement of
the verb is somewhat simplified in the tree, the structure gets more and more complex
with each step of movement.
CP
DP
C'
Who1 C
IP
lives2 t1
I'
I
vP
t2
v'
v
t2
VP
DP
t1
402
V'
V
PP
t2
P'
P
DP
in
London
Exercise 4
(1)
b raising
The verb seem is a raising verb, which means that it has only one clausal complement,
its subject position is empty. If the clausal complement is an infinitival one, the subject
of the embedded clause cannot be assigned Case either by the Inflection of the clause
(since it is non-finite) or the verb seem (Burzio'
s generalization). For this reason the
movement of the subject of the infinitival clause to a Case position is obligatory. The
verb seem, as usual, moves from V to tense v and from that position further on to I. As
discussed in the text to is also a tense v element as it can be preceded by not.
CP
C'
C
IP
DP
I'
Sam1 I
vP
seems2
v'
v
t2
VP
v
e
IP
t1
V'
I'
I
V
vP
t2
v'
v
to
vP
t1
v'
v
sleep3
VP
v
V'
e
V
t3
403
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 7
(1)
c raising + wh-movement
In this sentence wh-movement and raising are combined. The verb appear is also a
raising verb selecting a clausal complement. The subject of the embedded infinitival
clause is not assigned Case so it moves to the specifier position of the IP of the finite
clause. Since it is an instance of subject questions the question word has to move on to
the Spec,CP position. The verb appears can also undergo movement to C, it will not
precede the subject. The verb adore in the embedded clause selects an experiencer
subject which can appear in the specifier position of a light verb, which is a bound
morpheme inducing movement of the lexical verb adore. The second vP in the
embedded clause hosts the tense morpheme, infinitival to.
CP
DP
C'
who1 C
IP
appears2DP
t1
I'
I
vP
v'
t2
v
VP
t2
IP
DP
t1
V'
I'
I
V
vP
t2
v'
v
to
vP
DP
t1
v'
v
adore3 v
VP
DP
e Anne
V'
V
t3
404
Exercise 5
Exercise 5
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
Which book did John buy?
Short stories, I don’t like.
Short stories I expect nobody likes.
Mary seems to hate big cats.
I know the researcher who is believed to have invented cold fusion.
-role is assigned by a lexical head in a local configuration. A lexical head can assign
-role either to the constituents in its specifier or in its complement position.
Sentence (1a) is problematic as the lexical entry of the verb ‘buy’ as in (2a) states that
it should assign the ‘theme’ -role to a DP immediately following it as in structure
(2b).
(2)
a buy
: [–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <agent theme>
subcat: nominal
b
vP
DP
(agent)
v'
v
buy1
VP
DP
(patient)
V'
V
e1
But there is no DP in this position. In fact the object of the verb appears in the
initial position in the sentence. Therefore the sentence should be ungrammatical. But it
is not. So the assumption is that in the initial structure the wh-DP was in Spec,VP, the
canonical theme position, where it is assigned the theme theta role, them it moves to
the sentence-initial position. Why does it have to move there? Regular theme
complements do not undergo this movement (John bought Ulysses.). However, those
DPs that are marked for +wh feature have to move to sentence-initial position to fulfil
their operator function.
The verb like in (1b) is a transitive verb. It has an experiencer and a theme
argument as is illustrated in its lexical entry in (3a).
(3)
like
:cat: [–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <agent theme>
subcat: nominal
As the lexical entry shows there should be a nominal complement in the sister node
of the head but this complement seems to be in the initial position of the sentence
405
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 7
similarly to sentence (1a). Thematic role assignment can be accounted for in the same
manner we did in sentence (1a). The initial position of the object DP was Spec,VP
where it got the theme theta role from the main verb. Then it moved to the first
position of the sentence. This movement cannot be motivated by the fact that the DP
has a +wh feature, as it is not a question word. But it is obvious that the sentence has
marked contrastive interpretation (Short stories I don’t like, but I like novels.). This
indicates that the complement has a contrastive interpretation; therefore it is marked as
contrastive. DPs marked as contrastive tend to move to the sentence-initial position.
This operation is called topicalisation.
In sentence (1c), as in sentence (1b) the DP short stories is the theme complement
of the verb like, as its lexical entry indicates. Sentence (1c) is a complex sentence, the
topicalised DP moves to the first position of the main sentence. The theme
complement must be in the Spec,VP of the embedded sentence as in (1b) to get
thematic role from the lexical verb like of the subordinate sentence. Then it moves to
the initial position of the main sentence to get the contrastive interpretation.
In the complex sentence (1d) there are two predicates: the verb seem and the verb
hate. The lexical entry of the two verbs is in (4a) and (b).
(4)
a seem cat: [–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <proposition>
subcat: sentential
b
hate
cat: [–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <agent theme>
subcat: nominal
As the lexical entry of the verb seem indicates, it does not have thematic subject, so
the subject of the sentence cannot be the thematic subject of the verb seem. The verb
hate has a thematic subject, but there is no DP in the Spec,IP, (the canonical case
position of the subject) of the embedded sentence. Still the sentence is grammatical.
The DP Mary is interpreted as the subject of the verb hate, she is the “hater”. In the
initial structure the DP Mary must be in the specifier position of the VP of the
subordinate sentence.
(5)
IP
DP
(Mary)
I'
I
vP
v'
v
to
vP
DP
(Mary)
v'
v
hate
406
VP
Exercise 6
It is assumed that the subject Mary moves from the Spec,VP position of the
embedded sentence to the Spec,IP of the main sentence. The motivation for this
movement is Case. DPs must have Case. Subject DPs cannot get Case in Spec,VP,
they have to move to Spec,IP to get nominative Case. But the infinitival marker, as it is
non-finite (present, past, future), cannot assign Case (*It seems Mary to hate big cats.).
The subject DP must move to the subject position of the main sentence. As the verb
seem does not have thematic subject, the subject DP of the embedded sentence can
move to the Spec,IP of the main sentence to get nominative Case. As this movement is
motivated for Case it is DP-movement.
In sentence (1e) there are three verbs. The lexical entries of the three verbs are in
(6a), (6b) and (6c), respectively:
(6)
a know
b believed
c invent
cat: [–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <experiencer, theme>
subcat: nominal
cat: [–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <proposition>
subcat: sentential
cat: [–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <experiencer, propositional>
subcat: sentential
The subject DP and the object DP of the verb know are in their canonical positions,
in Spec,IP and in Spec,VP, respectively. The lexical head of the object DP is modified
by a complex relative sentence. The lexical verb believed of the main sentence is
followed by a sentence as is required by its lexical entry. Notice that the passive form
of the verb believe has no thematic subject. In the most embedded sentence the verb
invent has a thematic subject, which should be in Spec,vP in the initial position to get
thematic role. Intuitively, we know that the subject of invent is the relative pronoun
who. It has the agent role ‘inventor’. It is marked for +wh feature, therefore it moves to
the sentence initial position as in (1).
Exercise 6
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
The diamonds were stolen yesterday.
Will you meet Mary in Paris?
Linguistic textbooks, I never read.
I won’t trust you.
Who does John like?
Never have I been treated so rudely.
In sentence (1a) the DP the diamonds is the theme argument of the verb steal. It is a
passive sentence in which the theme argument moves to the canonical subject position,
as it cannot get case in its base position. The common wisdom about passivisation is
that the past participial form of the verb cannot assign thematic role to its agent
argument and cannot assign accusative case to its theme argument. As the Spec,IP
position of the sentence is empty, the theme argument can move there to get
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Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 7
nominative case. Movement of DPs to Spec,IP to get nominative case is called DP
movement. DP movement is substitution as it targets an existing position, in this case,
Spec,IP. The initial structure is in (2a), while the derived structure is in (2b).
(2)
a
were stolen the diamonds
b The diamondsi were stolen
ti
yesterday
yesterday
In sentence (1b) a yes–no question is under scrutiny. In yes–no questions in
English main clauses the auxiliary precedes the subject. The auxiliary is a head and its
base position is in I as is shown in the declarative version of the sentence in (3a). In
questions the auxiliary verb moves from I to C to mark C as interrogative, the way we
get the interrogative interpretation of the sentence as in (3b). The movement is headmovement and it is substitution as the auxiliary moves to an existing position, to C,
which is empty before the movement of the auxiliary.
(3)
a
you will meet Mary in Paris
b willi you ti meet Mary in Paris
In sentence (1c) the verb read is an active transitive verb that has a theme
complement. In the initial position the theme argument must be in VP as theta role
assignment is performed by the main verb in a very local domain (within the
projection of the verb) as in (4a). But the theme DP moves to the front of the sentence
(4b). This movement is called Topicalisation and it is an adjunction operation as we
can have several topicalised constituents.
(4)
a
I never read Linguistic textbooks
b Linguistic textbooksi I never read
ti
In sentence (1d) the negative marker is unified with the modal auxiliary in I. As is
seen in (5a) the canonical position for the negative head follows I, the D(eep)-structure
position of the modal auxiliary. In English negation can be adjoined to the auxiliary in
I as in (5b). This movement is adjunction as it is adjoined to a position that is already
filled with the modal auxiliary.
(5)
a I will not trust you
b I won’ti ti trust you
Sentence (1e) is an interrogative sentence in which the theme argument of the verb like
is an interrogative pronoun. Interrogative pronouns in English tend to move to the
front of the sentence followed by the movement of the (first) auxiliary to C. As the
pronoun is the complement DP of the verb, in D-structure it has to be in VP (6a). But
being an interrogative pronoun it has to move to the most initial position in the
sentence (6b) to mark the sentence interrogative. This is a substitution operation as
interrogative pronouns move to an existing empty position (to Spec,CP). The
movement of the auxiliary backs up this movement from I to C in accordance with the
Structure Preserving Principle.
408
Exercise 7
(6)
a
John -s
b Whoj doesi John ti
like who
like ti
That the movement of the interrogative pronoun is substitution is further supported
by the fact that in English only one interrogative pronoun can occur in sentence-initial
position, as the contrast between (7a) and (7b) illustrates.
(7)
a Who saw what?
b *Who what saw?
Sentence (1f) contains both negative fronting and passivisation. The negative word
never moves to iP from its adverbial base position, which is a position adjoined to vP.
The auxiliary have that has been inserted in the topmost vP, the tense vP to spport the
bound tense morpheme (remember, the thematic verb cannot move from the passive
vP, English is not an agglutinating language where the same verb form can “collect”
several inflectional endings) moves to I first and then to C. The subject, which is
understood as the theme of the verb treat moves from the specifier position of VP to
Spec,IP where it can be assigned Case. Finally, the the thematic verb itself moves from
V to v to support the bound passive morpheme.
Exercise 7
In the sentence Jane has been taken to hospital there are two chains, a DP chain and a
head chain. The DP chain is the result of the movement of the theme argument of the
passive verb taken to the subject position of the clause, to Spec,IP, the head of the
chain is the DP Mary in Spec,IP and the foot of the chain is the trace that follows the
verb as in (1). The other movement is the movement of the verb take to the vP
containing the aspectual morpheme -en. The aspectual auxiliaries have and be are
inserted as dummy forms to the appropriate positions.
(1)
[IP Janei has [vP been [VP takej +en ti tj to hospital]]]
In the sentence Everybody seems to speak two languages here the DP everybody is
the agent argument of the verb speak of the embedded sentence. It moves to Spec,IP of
the matrix sentence to get Case as it cannot get Case in the Spec,IP position of the
embedded sentence. The Inflection of the embedded sentence is non-finite and nonfinite inflection heads cannot assign Case. The head of the chain is the DP in Spec,IP
of the matrix sentence and the foot is in the Spec,VP position of the embedded
sentence. The V head also moves to vP that assigns the agentive theta role to the
subject. The verb seem also moves from its base position to tense v and then to I. The
derivation is in (2).
(2)
[IP Everybodyi seemsk [vP tk [VP tk [IP ti [vP to [VP ti speakj two languages tj
here]]]]]
In the sentence Have you ever been to Paris? the primary auxiliary have undergoes
head movement, as the sentence is a yes–no question. The auxiliary starts out from vP
headed by the auxiliary verb where it is inserted to support the tense morpheme as the
thematic verb cannot move there, then moves through I to C. The head of the chain is
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Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 7
the copy in C while the foot of the chain is in v as in (3). The thematic verb also
moves, to adjoin to the passive morpheme, which is the position it ends up in, as it
cannot support another bound morpheme.
[CP havej [IP you tj [vP ever[vP tj [vP bek+en [VP tk to Paris]]]]]]
(3)
In the sentence What did you give to John? we have an interrogative sentence. In
interrogative sentences there are usually chains, one formed by the movement of the
interrogative pronoun, the other one is the movement of the modal auxiliary verb to the
position immediately preceding the subject DP. The interrogative pronoun is
interpreted as the object DP of the verb, it is in VP in D-structure. The interrogative
pronoun has to move to the initial position of the sentence forming a chain whose head
is the pronoun in the first position of the sentence and the foot of the chain is its trace
in VP. In this sentence there is no modal auxiliary present, did does not move to C but
is inserted there as a dummy form, since the verb cannot move to that position. Other
movements, however, do happen: the subject DP moves from vP to IP to be assigned
Case, and the lexical verb moves to the light verb in vP and then to tense v and I. The
derivation is in (4).
[CP Whatj did [IP youk givel [vP tl [vP tk tl [VPtj tl to John]]]]]
(4)
In the sentence In the park, John met Mary the PP adjunct in the park is rightadjoined to VP in D-structure as in declarative sentences the PP follows the verb and
its complement(s). In this sentence the PP undergoes movement and gets adjoined to
some initial projection of the sentence leaving a trace in the vP-adjoined position as in
(5). The head of the chain formed by the movement of the PP is the copy of the PP
adjoined to IP. The foot of the chain is the base position of the PP adjoined to vP in Dstructure. The lexical verb meet moves to v, tense v and I, the subject DP moves to
Spec,IP.
[IP In the parki [IP Johnk metj [vP tj [vP tk tj Mary tj ti]]]]
(5)
Exercise 8
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
a.
b.
a.
b.
a.
b.
a.
b.
*Up the letter John tore.
The letter, John tore up.
*Whose did you meet mother?
Whose mother did you meet?
*Friends were financially supported of the President.
Friends of the President were financially supported.
*The fact surprised everybody that he had resigned.
The fact that he had resigned surprised everybody.
(i)
The contrast between sentences (1a) and (1b) suggests that the constructions
up and the letter do not form a constituent. Only those items can be moved as one unit
that form a constituent. The DP the letter and the particle up do not form a PP.
Otherwise sentence (1a) would be grammatical but the particle and the DP is part of
VP, which includes the verb, as well
410
Exercise 8
As the grammaticality in sentence (1b) shows the items the and letter form a
constituent, the reason why the and letter can undergo topicalisation as one unit.
(ii)
In sentence (2a) the problem is that the question words whose and the noun
mother are separated by moving the question word to a sentence-initial position and
leaving the noun in its original position, in situ. This is obvious as sentence (2b) is
grammatical as both the question word and the noun move to the sentence-initial
position. The hypothesis is that the question word and the noun form one constituent;
therefore they cannot be separated by movement. The common wisdom about the
whose-N construction is that the noun is the lexical head of the DP and whose is the
functional head of the DP as in (5). Wh movement moves a maximal projection,
therefore when whose moves, it cannot move alone but as a maximal projection, in this
case, as the DP containing whose. This DP includes the NP whose head is book.
(5)
DP
DP
whose
D'
D
NP
N'
N
book
(iii)
Sentences (3a) and (3b) are passive sentences in which the object of the active
sentence (They financially supported the friends of the President) becomes the subject
of the passive sentence. In (3a) the object is broken up into two parts: the determiner–
noun sequence and the preposition–determiner phrase sequence. The determiner–noun
sequence moves to the subject position while the preposition–determiner phrase
remains in situ. This is not possible as the sentence proves to be ungrammatical. In
sentence (3b) all the elements that constitute the object move to the subject position
and the sentence is grammatical. It seems reasonable to assume that all the elements of
the object form one constituent; therefore syntactic operations cannot separate them.
(6)
DP
D'
D
NP
the
N'
N
PP
friends
of the President
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Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 7
The sequence the-friends cannot move without the PP complement, as the DP that
includes the definite article and the noun contains the PP as well. Technically
speaking, there is no node that dominates the determiner and the noun head, but does
not dominate the PP complement.
(iv)
In sentences (4a) and (4b) the subject of the non-finite subordinate clause
moves to the subject position of the matrix sentence. In sentence (4a) only a part of the
subject moves, the complement clause of the head of the subject DP remains in its
original position and this gives us the wrong result. The complement DP cannot be
separated from the head and the determiner as they form one constituent.
(7)
DP
D'
D
NP
the
N'
N
fact
CP
that he had resigned
The complement CP is part of the phrases headed by the noun and the determiner,
respectively, while there is no common node that dominates D and N but does not
dominate the complement clause.
Exercise 9
passivisation – substitution: f, i; subject–auxiliary inversion – substitution: b, c;
topicalisation – adjunction: d, h; extraposition – adjunction: a, g; preposing –
adjunction: e, j
412
Check Questions
Chapter 8
Check Questions
Q1
Government is a structural configuratin under which e.g. case is assigned. A
head governs its sister and everything within its sister unless a barrier intervenes. The
notion ’barrier’ is introduced to prevent certain elements to be governed from outside
by a governor (i.e. to allow certain elements to remain ungoverned). VPs are not
barriers as the case-assigning light verb can govern into them. Non-finite IPs are not
barriers, as the prepositional complementizer for can govern into them and case-mark
the subject of an infinitival clause. CPs are barriers though, they block government by
a governor from outside.
Q2
Exceptional Case Marking occurs with a special group of verbs whose
propositional complement, contrary to other types of verbs, is not realised by a CP but
an IP, i.e. these verbs subcategorise for non-finite IPs with overt subjects which must
be case-marked. The subjects are case-marked by the case-assigning light verb
governing into the VP. The case assigned is accusative, the direction of caseassignment being leftward.
Q3
According to one view, clauses which consist of a subject and a predicate not
including a verbal element to express a proposition are analysed as ’Small Clauses’
which lack a categorial status (thus, these would count as exocentric projections).
Another view assumes that these clauses have the categorial status of their predicate
and their subjects occupy the specifier position within the projection of the predicate.
According to the third view these type of clauses contain an agreement element acting
as head (an I head). In this view the head of the predicate does not determine the
categorial status of the whole clause, the agreement element does.
Q4
There are two types of unpronounced subjects: the non-independent type and
the independent type. The non-independent type of subject has an antecedent with
which it shares a theta-role. It has to be lower in the structure than its antecedent. It is
always associated with a subject antecedent and it cannot refer outside of the subject
clause of another clause. The independent type of unpronounced subject has a thetarole of its own even if it is coreferential with another element. It does not necessarily
have to be higher up in the structure than the element it is associated with. It can be
coreferential with subjects and objects as well.
Q5
Raising is a type of movement that occurs with certain types of verbs. The
subject of the lower clause is moved out to the subject position of the higher clause.
The moved element must originate in the subject position of the lower clause which
must be a non-finite clause. There is no raising out of finite clauses or object positions.
The properties of verbs that may occur in a raising structure include lacking a light
verb that can assign a theta-role to the subject and case-mark it. Lacking a light verb
implies having a subject position available and vacant. Another property of verbs that
can be part of raising structures is that they take a propositional (clausal) complement,
which can be finite or non-finite. In raising structures the light verb cannot case-mark
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Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 8
the subject of the lower clause and when the lower clause is non-finite there is no
potential case-assigner within that clause either, hence the subject must move to a
position where it can get case. Thus, raising is another type of case-motivated
movement. The subject can move across any number of clauses as long as they are
non-finite or contain a raising predicate and have an available subject position.
Q6
Case-motivated movements are: subject-movement, movement of objects in
passive structures, movement of the internal argument of an unaccusative verb, raising.
Q7
The Extended Projection Principle requires that clauses must have subjects.
Pleonastic subjects (it and there) are made to appear by the EPP when the clausal
complement of a raising verb is finite, hence there is no reason for the subject of the
lower clause to move since it can get case-marked in its position in the lower clause. In
such cases a pleonastic subject (an element that does not require a theta-role) is
inserted into the structure to satisfy the EPP.
Q8
PRO is an empty (unpronounced) DP. It can only appear in the subject position
of non-finite clauses, not elsewhere (i.e. as subject of a finite clause or object or object
of a preposition). The subject positions of non-finite clauses where it can occur are
positions to which Null Case is assigned. PRO can have arbitrary reference when it is
interpreted as having some generic referent. However, it can also be coreferent with a
subject or an object. In some contexts both arbitrary reference and obligatory
coreference to an antecedent are allowed at the same time, e.g. They discussed growing
a moustache – this could be interpreted either as growing a moustache in general or
them growing a moustache.
Q9
Control is the property of PRO that when its interpretation is not arbitrary, it
can take reference either from a subject or an object. Whether PRO is controlled by the
subject or the object is determined by the governing verb, thus there are so-called
subject control verbs, e.g. promise and object control verbs like ask (They asked him
PRO to leave – it is ’him’, the object of the main clause who will leave vs. They
promised him PRO to leave – it is the subject of the main clause who will leave).
Q10 Anaphors are reflexive pronouns (myself, yourself, etc.) and reciprocal
pronouns (each other, one another). They must have an antecedent within some unit,
e.g. within a clause or DP that contains them and cannot refer outside it. On the other
hand a pronominal (him, her, etc) must refer outside the unit that contains them.
Q11 In derived nominals the –ing affix turns the verb into a noun and the unit
behaves like a noun syntactically. In gerunds the –ing element turns the verb into a
unit that has the external distribution of a nominal but the internal structure of it retains
verbal properties. With derived nominals the complement it takes is case-marked by
the preposition of while in gerunds no of-insertion is necessary, the complement of the
gerund is case-marked in the ordinary fashion verbs case-mark their complement DP.
Derived nominals can be pluralised and used with determiners while gerunds cannot
be pluralised and only tolerate what looks like a possessive determiner.
414
Exercise 1
Exercise 1
a- adjective, b-participle; c-participle/continuous aspect; d-participle/continuous
aspect; e-gerund; f-participle; g-gerund; h-gerund; i-gerund; j-gerund; k-looking:
continuous aspect, rising: adjective; l-participle m-talking:participle, having:gerund,
heating: noun; n-noun; o-participle; p-participle; q-participle; r-sitting:participle,
reading: continuous aspect; s-gerund; t-participle
Exercise 2
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
f
g
h
Bobby believes [Betsy to be beautiful].
non-finite clause
non-finite clause
Terry tried [to travel to Toronto].
Thomas thinks [that Ron runs too fast].
finite clause
Hetty hopes [for Hugh to hug her].
non-finite clause
finite clause
Alan asked [if Sam could stay longer].
Sam answered [that he had to leave].
finite clause
Bobby believes [that Betsy is beautiful]. finite clause
finite clause
Hetty hopes [that Hugh will hug her].
On the basis of the examples, it can be concluded that for some verbs (believe,
want and hope, respectively) both finite and non-finite complements are possible. In
other words, their clausal complement may or may not express tense: if tense is
expressed, the clause is finite, if it is not expressed, the clause is non-finite.
Exercise 3
In English, reflexive pronouns must have an antecedent, i.e. a DP that has got the same
reference, within the clause they occur. On the other hand, this is not true for personal
pronouns: there cannot be an antecedent within the same clause (or DP), however,
there is an antecedent outside the clause (or outside the DP). Whenever there are more
than one possible antecedent for a pronoun (either for a reflexive or for a personal
pronoun), the sentence becomes ambiguous: there are at least two ways of
interpretation for the pronoun, thus, for the whole sentence.
a he = John or he = another male
He is a personal pronoun therefore it does not have an antecedent within the clause
[that he would never kiss Jenny]. However, there is a possible antecedent (John) in the
previous clause [John said], since he requires a singular male referent, and John fulfils
these criteria. On the other hand, he can refer to another male, who is not present in
this sentence but has previously been mentioned during the discourse.
b himself = Jonathan
Himself is a reflexive, that is, it must have an antecedent within the same clause [that
Jonathan hates himself]. The antecedent must be male and singular, thus, Jonathan is
the only available DP that functions as its antecedent.
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Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 8
c them = Mary and Fanny or them = other people
Them is a personal pronoun therefore there is no need for an antecedent within the
clause [Jack and Bob were making dinner for them]. There is a possible antecedent
(Mary and Fanny) in the subordinate clause [while Mary and Fanny were sleeping],
since them requires a plural referent, and Mary and Fanny refers to two people.
However, them can have other, previously mentioned people as its antecedent, who are
not mentioned in this sentence.
d themselves = Jack and Bob
Themselves is a reflexive, that is, it must have an antecedent within the clause [Jack
and Bob were making dinner for themselves]. The antecedent of themselves must be
plural, thus, the only possible DP is Jack and Bob.
e she = Edith or she = Sarah or she = another female
She is a personal pronoun referring to a singular female person. Since it is a personal
pronoun, it does not have an antecedent within the clause [that she would never be able
to live alone]. Nevertheless, outside the clause there are two possible antecedents: both
Edith and Sarah are singular and female. What is more, we should not forget the
possibility that the antecedent of she is not mentioned in this piece of discourse, that is,
she refers to a third female person. Thus, the sentence is ambiguous: we cannot decide
whether she refers to Sarah or Edith or another female.
f he = Harry or he = another male
He is a personal pronoun referring to a singular male person It does not have an
antecedent within the clause [he always gets angry], however, Harry is an available
antecedent in the previous clause because it refers to a male person. On the other hand,
the possibility for referring to another male not mentioned in this sentence should not
be neglected.
g her = Mrs Green or her = another female
Her is a pronoun therefore it can have an antecedent outside its clause or, in the case of
her neighbour, outside its DP. Mrs Green has the properties of being female and
singular, so it can be an antecedent for her. On the other hand, the antecedent of a
pronoun may not be spelled out in the same sentence or DP, thus, her can have another
female antecedent that has been mentioned earlier in the discourse.
his = neighbour or his = another male
His is a pronoun, therefore it cannot have an antecedent within the DP it occurs.
Outside the DP, her neighbour is a possible antecedent for his, since his requires a
singular male antecedent and her neighbour is singular and is not marked for gender,
that is, it can be interpreted as male. However, it can be that his refers to another male
not present in this sentence.
he = neighbour or he = another male
He is a personal pronoun referring to a singular male person. It does not have an
antecedent within the clause [while he would be away], however, her neighbour is a
416
Exercise 4
possible antecedent in the previous clause because it can refer to a male person as
discussed above. On the other hand, the possibility for referring to another male not
mentioned in this sentence must be also mentioned here.
Exercise 4
The Case Filter states that all DPs must have case. Sentence (1a) is ungrammatical
because the DP John, which is the thematic subject of the embedded sentence, does
not have case. As the inflection of the embedded sentence is non-finite (infinitival), it
cannot assign case to the DP John. In sentence (1b) the embedded sentence is finite,
the finite inflection can assign nominative case, hence the subject DP ‘John’ gets
nominative case from the finite inflection and the sentence is grammatical.
Sentence (2b) is ungrammatical as the non-finite I cannot assign nominative case to
the subject DP of the subordinate sentence. The sentence can be improved when the
subject has accusative case, as the ECM verb believe can assign accusative case to the
DP in the specifier position of its complement.
In (3a) the DP John does not have case, as the non-finite I of the subject
subordinate clause cannot assign case. In (3b) the preposition for saves the sentence as
it can assign accusative case to the specifier of its complement.
Exercise 5
The Theta Criterion states that each argument can have only one thematic role and
each thematic role can be assigned to only one argument.
(1)
a
b
c
d
e
I want to leave now.
John persuaded Bill to leave.
I want Mary to leave now.
Mary, I really like her.
I expected Bill to win the race.
(i)
In sentence (1a) the DP John seems to have two thematic roles. Intuitively,
John is the ‘wanter’ and the ‘leaver’. This intuition can be supported by giving the
lexical entry of the two predicates of the sentence. want and leave. The predicate want
is a two-place predicate whose lexical entry is in (2):
(2)
want category: [–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <agent proposition>
subcat: clausal
The verb ‘leave’ is a one-place predicate whose lexical entry is in (3):
(3)
leave category: [–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <agent>
subcat: 0
The verb want assigns an agent theta role to its subject. The verb leave has an agent
theta role that is assigned to the DP John. As the DP has two theta roles the sentence is
predicted to be ungrammatical. But the sentence is fully grammatical, therefore
problematic for the Theta Criterion.
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Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 8
(ii)
In sentence (1b) there are two verbs, persuade and kill. Persuade is a threeplace predicate as is indicated in (4a), while kill is a two-place predicate as in (4b):
(4)
a persuade category: [–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <agent, theme, proposition>
subcat: nominal, sentential
category: [–F, –N, +V]
b kill
-grid: <agent>
subcat: nominal
It seems that the person, who is persuaded, is the theme of the verb persuade and
the subject of the verb leave is the DP Bill. The DP Bill has a ‘theme’ thematic role
assigned by the verb persuade and an agent thematic role assigned by the verb leave
contrary to the Theta Criterion.
(iii)
The relevant structure of sentence (in bold letters) (1c) is seemingly identical
with sentence (1b) as in (5).
(5)
DPnom – V – DPacc – V – (DP)
But the lexical entries of the verbs suggest that the two sentences have fairly
different structures. The lexical entries of the predicates in (i) are repeated here as (2)’
and (3)’.
(2)’
(3)’
want category: [–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <agent proposition>
subcat: clausal
leave category: [–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <agent>
subcat: 0
The verb want is a two-place predicate that has an agent DP argument I and a
clause, but no object DP. leave has one agentive argument. The DP Mary is assigned
agent theta role by the verb leave. The DP Mary has only one theta role, therefore the
Theta Criterion predicts that the sentence is grammatical.
(iv)
In sentence (1d) the verb like is a two-place predicate as indicated in its
lexical entry in (6).
(6)
like
category: [–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <experiencer, theme>
subcat: nominal
The verb has an experiencer subject I and a theme object her. The object DP and
the sentence-initial DP Mary have the same reference. The DP her is in the canonical
object position, in Spec,VP and gets thematic role from the verb there. But it is not
obvious what assigns thematic role to Mary. There are two options. One is that the
verb assigns the theme theta role both to the DP Mary and to the DP her. The Theta
Criterion does not allow this option. The other option is that the DP Mary is not the
argument of the verb, but an adjunct. It is adjoined to the highest node in the sentence.
418
Exercise 6
(v)
In sentence (1e) there are two predicates: expect and win. The surface
ordering of the constituents is identical with structure (5) repeated here as (5)’.
(5)’
DPnom – V – DPacc – V – (DP)
We have already seen that superficially the relevant part of sentences (1b) and (1c)
are identical, but it turned out that it is not. The question is whether the verb expect
behaves like the verb want or the verb persuade. To answer this question we need to
know the lexical entry of the verbs in the sentence.
(7)
a expect category: [–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <experiencer, proposition>
subcat: sentential
b win
category: [–F, –N, +V]
-grid: <agent, theme>
subcat: nominal
Exercise 6
DPs undergo DP movement for Case. DP movement can target Spec,IP under the
condition that this position is not filled by the thematic (deep) subject of the predicate
of the clause. DP movement must be local. DPs move in a cyclic manner. DPs have to
move to each Spec,IP on their way to the highest Spec,IP where they can get case.
There can be no DP that intervenes between the head and the foot of the chain formed
by the movement of the element.
In sentence (1a) the DP John is the thematic subject of the verb meet. The
inflectional head of the most embedded sentence is non-finite, it cannot assign case
therefore the subject of the embedded verb has to move to a case position. The
predicates likely and seem are raising predicates. They have no thematic subjects. The
Spec,IP positions of the sentences lexically headed by these raising predicates are
empty. The DP John can move to the Spec,IP position of the matrix sentence. This
movement is problematic, as it does not land in each Spec,IP position on its way up to
the highest Spec,IP. The expletive it occupies the intermediate subject position of the
clause lexically headed by the adjective likely. The expletive it intervenes between the
head of the chain formed by the moved DP and the foot of the chain, its trace. Locality
is not respected, hence the sentence is ungrammatical.
In sentence (1b) we seem to have the same problem as in sentence (1a). The verb
hate is a two-place predicate. It has an experiencer subject and a theme object. The
matrix sentence contains the raising verb seem that does not have a thematic subject,
therefore the Spec,IP position of the matrix sentence is available as a landing site for
the DP to move there for case. As can be seen the object DP of the embedded sentence
moves to the subject position of the matrix sentence. This movement is illegitimate as
the subject of the embedded sentence the DP Mary intervenes between the moved DP
and its trace in the VP of the embedded sentence. Locality is not respected. Also, John
is assigned Case in its base position, it does not have to undergo Case-motivated
movement at all.
In sentence (1c) as the derivation shows the moved DP is the thematic experiencer
subject of the predicate clever. This DP moves to the subject position of the matrix
419
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 8
sentence. It is obvious that in this sentence the problem is not that the movement of the
DP I is not local. I moves from the Spec,IP position of the embedded sentence to the
Spec,IP position of the matrix sentence. Still the sentence is ungrammatical. Notice
though that the verb believe is an ECM verb that can assign Case to the subject of its
infinitival complement, so no movement is necessary.
In sentence (1d) the DP John is the thematic object of the passive verb killed.
Passive verbs cannot assign case. The object DP must move to a case position where it
can get case. It moves to Spec,IP of the embedded sentence where it cannot get
nominative case because I is non-finite. Notice that the verb believe is an ECM verb,
that is it can assign case to the item in the Spec,IP position of its complement clause.
The problem is that the verb believe is in its passive form therefore it cannot assign
accusative case. Hence the DP John has no case. The Case Filter is violated.
Exercise 7
(1)
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
g.
h.
i.
j.
Johni seems ti to be clever.
Johni tries PROi to be clever.
Johni appeared ti to be clever.
Johni was believed ti to be clever.
Johni wanted PROi to come.
Johni was likely ti to come.
Johni was too tired PROi to come.
Johni was unable PROi to come.
Johni was certain ti to come.
Johni was happy PROi to come.
Exercise 8
a Jack wondered whether [PRO] to trust Jill.
subject control
b. The electrician promised the owner of the flat [PRO] to do a good job.
subject control
c The teacher told the student [PRO] to register for the course next semester.
object control
d It is important [PRO] to keep your word.
ambiguous between arbitrary and subject control interpretation: it can mean
that it is important for the listener to keep their word or the clause can be
understood to have a generic interpretation, it is important for people in
general to keep their word.
e I am glad [PRO] to be back home.
subject control
420
Exercise 9
f [PRO] To err is human.
arbitrary control
g Mary tried [PRO] to feed the elephants.
subject control
h The teacher plans [PRO] to write another study on causatives.
subject control
Exercise 9
(1)
a
b
c
d
John was believed to have stolen the book from the library.
Jane was assumed to be taken to the cinema by taxi.
The students wanted to pass the exam.
Which girl do you think John would like to dance with?
Believe is a two-place predicate selecting for an experiencer and a theme or
propositional argument. Here the v head is occupied by the passive morpheme -en,
which does not require an experiencer argument. So there will be only one argument,
which is a clausal argument occupying the specifier position of the VP. The head of
the upper vP is the base position for the passive auxiliary be. This moves to the I head
in the S-structure. The verb believe adjoins to the passive morpheme in v. In the
embedded clause, the main verbs takes two arguments: a theme DP in the specifier of
the VP and an agent DP in the specifier position of the light verb. The main verb steal
adjoins to the light verb, and this complex head moves on the aspectual morpheme -en,
being also a bound morpheme. The perfect auxiliary have occupies the head of the
upper vP projection. The PP from the library is an adjunct, since the verb steal requires
only two arguments: an agent and a theme. The DP the book can be assigned Case by
the light verb in v in its base position. The other argument, however, has to move in
order to receive Case. The first position where it has a chance to receive Case is the
first subject position in the specifier of the lower IP. If the verb in the upper clause is
not passive, then the light verb can assign accusative Case to the DP in the specifier of
the lower IP, as can be seen in (2).
(2)
Jane believed John to have stolen the book from the library.
In this sentence, however, the v head is occupied by the passive morpheme -en,
which cannot assign Case. So the DP has to move on to the next position where it can
get Case. This position is the subject position in the specifier of the higher IP. Here the
finite I head assigns nominative Case to the DP.
421
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 8
(3)
CP
C'
C
IP
DP2
John
I'
I
vP
was1
v'
v
vP
v'
t1
v
believe3
VP
v
-en
(IP)
V'
V
t3
422
Exercise 9
IP
I'
t2
I
vP
v'
v
vP
to
v'
v
vP
have t2
v'
v
v5
steal4
vP
v
v
-en
e
vP
t2
PP
v'
t5
from the library
VP
DP
V'
the book
V
t4
423
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 8
The structure of sentence (1b) is quite similar to that in (1a). The main verb
assume, being a passive verb, takes only one argument, which is a clausal theme
argument in the specifier of the VP. The verb take in the lower clause is a multiple
complement verb, but since it is also passive, it takes only two arguments: a theme DP
Jane, which occupies the specifier position of the VP in the D-structure, and a goal
argument PP, which occupies the complement position of the verb. The main verb
adjoins to the passive morpheme in both clauses. The PP by taxi is an adjunct, since it
is not selected by the verb take as a complement. The theme DP Jane needs to be
assigned Case. The specifier of the vP, its base position, is not a Case position, since
the passive morpheme in v is not able to assign accusative Case. The DP moves to the
specifier of the IP, which is the first position where the DP has chance for receiving
Case. The head of the IP is non-finite, thus it cannot assign nominative Case to the DP
in its specifier position. Since the head of the vP dominating the specifier of the IP is a
passive morpheme, no accusative Case can be assigned to the DP either. The DP
moves on to the next possible Case position, which is the specifier of the next IP.
Since the I head is finite, it can assign nominative Case to the DP.
(4)
CP
C'
C
IP
I'
DP4
Jane
I
vP
was1
v'
v
vP
t1
v'
v
assume2+-en (IP)
VP
V'
V
t2
424
Exercise 9
IP
I'
t4
I
vP
v'
v
vP
to
v'
v
vP
be
vP
PP
v'
v
by taxi
VP
take3+en
t4
V'
V
t3
425
PP
to the cinema
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 8
In (1c) want is a two-place predicate. It takes an agent and a propositional argument. The
agent has its base position in the specifier of the vP and it moves to the specifier of the IP
in order to get nominative Case from the finite I head. The proposition is a CP, which
occupies the specifier of the VP. This is a Case position, the light verb in v can assign accusative Case to this position. Since sentences avoid Case positions, it moves rightwards
and adjoins to the VP. The main verb pass selects for two arguments: an agent and a
theme. The theme DP the exam receives Case from the light verb in its base position.
The agent DP occupies the specifier of the vP in the D-structure. This DP is coreferential
with the students but it cannot be the trace of that DP since they both receive a separate
thematic role from one of the main verbs. Thus the agent DP in the lower clause is not
the trace of the students but it is a PRO, taking an independent thematic role.
(5)
CP
C'
C
IP
I'
DP1
the students I
vP
wanted2
v'
v
CP3
C'
C
t2
vP
t1
IP
PRO4
I'
I
v'
v
VP
t2
VP
vP
t3
v'
v
V
vP
to
V'
t4
t2
v'
v
VP
pass5+e DP
the exam
V'
V
t5
426
Exercise 9
In sentence (1d) the main verb think takes two arguments: an experiencer, which
occupies the specifier of the vP and a theme, which is a CP occupying the specifier of
the VP. Since CPs avoid Case positions and the specifier of the VP is a Case position,
the CP moves rightwards and adjoins to the VP. In the middle CP, the verb like selects
for two arguments: an experiencer occupying the specifier of the vP and a theme
occupying the specifier of the VP. The CP argument of the verb like moves rightwards
in order to avoid the Case position. It adjoins to the VP. In the lowest clause, the verb
dance takes only one argument: an agent in the specifier of the vP. The PP with which
girl is an adjunct since it is not required by the verb dance. The agent argument is a
PRO since it is unpronounced but has an independent thematic role. The DP which girl
is a wh-expression which has to move to the specifier of a CP with a [+Wh] feature. So
the DP moves first to the specifier of the lowest CP. Since the C head has a [–Wh]
feature, it has to move on to the specifier of the next CP. This again has a [–Wh]
feature, so the DP cannot stay there. It moves on to the specifier of the upper CP. The
head of the upper CP has a [+Wh] feature, so the DP can stay in that position. The
[+Wh feature] of the C head attracts the I head as well. Since the thematic verb cannot
move above the subject, dummy do is inserted into C.
(6)
CP
DP10
C'
which girlC
IP
do DP1
you
I'
I
vP
think3 t1
v'
v
vP
t3
v'
v
VP
t3
VP (CP4)
t4
V'
V
t3
427
Suggested Answers and Hints - Chapter 8
CP4
t10
C'
C
ø
IP
DP5
I'
John
I
vP
would
v'
v
vP
like6 t5
v'
v
t6
t7
VP
(CP7)
VP
V'
V
t6
428
Exercise 9
CP7
C'
C
IP
I'
PRO8
I
vP
v'
v
vP
to
vP
t8
PP
v'
P'
v
VP
P
dance9+e
V'
with
V
t9
429
t10
Glossary
A-movement: argument-movement, the syntactically motivated
movement of
arguments from argument positions to argument positions. The Casemotivated movement of DPs in passive and raising structures is a
typical example for this movement type. See also A'
-movement.
A'-movement: A-bar movement, non-argument movement, the
movement of
arguments or non-arguments to non-argument positions, e.g.
whmovement or focus fronting.
abstract Case: being Case-marked is assumed to be a universal property of overt
nominal expressions. Whenever there is no visible marking, we assume
there to be invisible Case on the given nominal expression.
abstract light verb: the
head position of a
vP can be occupied by a
phonetically empty light verb.
accusative Case: the case of DPs appearing after verbs, prepositions and visible
subjects of infinitival clauses. In English it is visible only on certain
pronouns, e.g. him/her.
active voice: a structure with no passivisation, where the subject of the clause
does not originate in the object position but in the specifier position of
the vP. Compare with passive voice, see also voice.
adjacency: according to traditional analyses Case assigner and Case assignee must
be adjacent, next to each other. This accounts for why the sentence *Mary
speaks fluently English is ungrammatical.
adjective: a constituent with the feature composition: [+N, +V, –F] modifying
nouns, e.g. mad in mad cow. These constituents cannot have nominal
complements, their semantically nominal complement must appear as a
Prepositional Phrase with the rescue strategy of of-insertion.
adjective phrase (AP): a phrase headed by an adjective. In the complement
position we can find PPs and finite and non-finite CPs. DPs and
exceptional clauses are excluded since adjectives are not
Case
assigners. APs are complements of DegPs.
adjunct: a constituent not selected by a head.
adjunct rule: one of the three rules of X-bar theory, a recursive rule of the form
Xn → Xn, Y/YP
This rule states that an
adjunct can be
adjoined to the head, the
intermediate projection or the maximal projection. Heads can be
adjoined to heads, phrases can be adjoined to the intermediate or maximal
projection.
The constituent an adjunct is adjoined to is doubled. The comma in the rule
indicates that the order of the two constituents is not fixed.
Glossary
adjunction: a type of movement where a new position is formed as a result of the
movement creating an adjunction structure, like the (simplified) movement
of the PP in the following tree structure representation where the S
node is doubled:
S
PP
S
on the shelf1 DP
VP
Petra
V'
V
PP
put
t1
adverb: a constituent with the feature composition [+N, +V, –F] used to modify a
verb (as in everything went smoothly) or a sentence (as in Unfortunately, I
did not pass the first exam). In this approach adverbs and adjectives
belong to the same category, the difference between them being what they
modify.
affix:
a bound morpheme added to the beginning or end of a word, a prefix or
a suffix.
Affix Lowering: the downward movement of the bound inflectional morpheme
-s, -ed or the zero inflectional morpheme onto the verbal head. This is the
only movement type where we move a
constituent down. Assuming
downward movement to take place is necessary in the traditional framework
because it is assumed that lexical verbs in English cannot leave the VP
and this way we can also account for the order of
sentence medial
adverbs relative to the verb: She often invites her friends.
agent:
one of the thematic or theta-roles, where the argument deliberately
performs an action, as Jamie in Jamie sang a song or Robert in Robert
kicked the cat. In terms of the UTAH the agentive theta-role is assigned
to the specifier position of vP, similarly to experiencer arguments.
agglutination: stems are allowed to support more than one bound morpheme and
hence there are complex words being formed from a series of inflectional
morphemes.
agreement: a syntactic process whereby certain constituents must share certain
features, e.g. subjects must agree with the inflection on the verb in
person and number.
aktionsart: see lexical aspect.
ambiguity: a structure is ambiguous if it can be interpreted in more than one way. We
differentiate lexical ambiguity from structural ambiguity.
anaphor: a reflexive (e.g. himself) or a reciprocal (e.g. each other). A DP without
independent reference needing an antecedent.
432
Glossary
anaphoric operator: an
operator that behaves like an
anaphor, one that is
referentially dependent on another constituent in the sentence, like a whelement in relative clauses.
antecedent: a constituent another constituent without independent reference (such
as an anaphor or a trace) takes reference from/is coreferential with.
In the sentence ‘Mary is enjoying herself’ the antecedent of herself is Mary.
We indicate coreference with coindexation.
AP:
see Adjective Phrase
arbitrariness: based on the phonological form of a certain word we cannot predict its
meaning. The same word can mean different things in different
languages.
arbitrary reference: in certain contexts PRO does not need an antecedent, it has
a generic interpretation similarly to the pronoun one:
[CP PRO to be] or [CP PRO not to be], that is the question
arguments: the participants minimally involved in an action defined by the
predicate. The complements and the subject, the latter also called an
external argument.
aspect: a semantic property of verbs expressing how a certain event is viewed.
See lexical aspect and grammatical aspect.
aspectual auxiliary verb: those dummy auxiliary verbs that participate in forming
the progressive (different forms of be as in They are waiting.) or the
perfective aspect (different forms of have as in I have read this book.).
They are not generated in the head position of
IPs (as opposed to
modal auxiliaries) but in vP, and can undergo upward movement to
the head position of IP. Feature composition: [–N, +V]
aspectual morpheme: the morphemes -ing and -en responsible for the progressive
and perfective aspectual meanings, respectively.
asterisk: a) a symbol used to indicate an ungrammatical structure.
b) in a rewrite rule it indicates that there can be any number of the
constituent marked with this symbol
bare infinitive: an infinitive without to, a non-finite verb form appearing after
auxiliaries, not to be confused with the base form of the verb which can
also be finite.
barrier: certain nodes in a tree form barriers to government, they ‘protect’
their constituents from government from the outside. A governor may be
able to govern up to a barrier, but not through a barrier. Case assignment
is impossible through a barrier. CPs are barriers to government.
base form: the (at least apparently) uninflected form of the verb. it can be finite
(like in I like chocolate where a zero form of the inflection indicates SG1
agreement) or non-finite (like in I may invite Jamie where a verb form
also called the bare infinitive is used, no inflection whatsoever is present
on the verb, the inflectional head position is occupied by the
modal
auxiliary may).
base position: the position where a
constituent first appears in the generative
process.
433
Glossary
base-generate: to insert constituents into a position reflecting the basic semantic
relationships. The arguments of the verb appear within the Verb Phrase
but they may be forced to leave that position by different principles of
grammar.
binary features: abstract representations of a contrasting linguistic unit such as
[±Tense]. These units can have one of the two values + or –.
binder: a nominal expression that gives reference to another nominal expression
without independent reference. In the sentence Mary knows that she will
pass the exam the constituent Mary can be the binder of the pronoun she
(mind you, it is not necessarily so, the interpretation of the pronoun can be
some other female character determined by the context)
binding: an element that can be coreferential with another element (the most
typically
pronouns and
anaphors) is bound by that element. This
relationship is called binding. In the sentence Peter and Mary love each
other the constituent Peter and Mary binds each other.
binding domain: the domain within which anaphors must be, pronouns cannot be
bound. E.g. in the sentence Peter knows him the constituent Peter cannot
be coreferent with the pronoun him since they are in the same domain. In
the sentence Peter knows himself the anaphor has to be coreferent with
Peter since it is the only available antecedent for it in the same domain as
required by the binding principles.
binding principles: principles that refer to the interpretation of nominal expressions:
a) An anaphor must have a binder within the binding domain
b) A pronominal cannot have a binder within the binding domain
c) An R-expression must be free everywhere
bound morpheme: a morpheme that has to attach to another morpheme, it cannot
stand on its own, e.g. -ed, -ment, un-. See also free morpheme
bracketed representation: a representation of grammatical structure by bracketing
those constituents that belong together, an alternative to tree diagrams.
branch: lines connecting the nodes in tree-structure representations.
Burzio’s Generalisation: verbs which assign no theta-role to their subjects do
not assign accusative Case to their objects.
canonical subject position: the specifier position of the IP. This is the position
where subjects are assigned
Case. The canonical subject position,
however, is not equivalent with the base position of the subject, as was
assumed for a long time, see the VP-Internal Subject Hypothesis.
Case:
see abstract Case and morphological case.
Case assigner: a head that has the ability to assign
Case, like V(erb),
P(reposition) and finite I(nflection).
Case avoidance principle: Clauses avoid Case positions.
Case Filter: every overt DP must be assigned abstract Case.
Case position: a position where ( nominative or
accusative)
Case can be
assigned.
Case Theory: one of the modules of GB defining Case-assignment to DPs.
434
Glossary
category variable: in X-bar theory and the rules of X-bar theory X is a category
variable that can be substituted by any of the categories. XP can be
NP, VP, PP, DP, etc.
central determiner: traditionally these are determiners following pre-determiners
and preceding post-determiners. In GB central determiners occupy the
head position of DP this way defining the definiteness of the phrase
(e.g. a man/the man)
chain:
a moved element and its associated traces functioning as a single object
made up of several parts. See also head of the chain, foot of the chain.
clause: a structure containing a (visible or invisible) subject and a predicate.
cognate object: objects that are strongly related to the verb (mostly intransitive),
usually they repeat the meaning of the verb: smile an evil smile, live a happy
life.
coindexation: an indication of coreference between two constituents by giving
them the same subscript index symbol. In Peteri knows that Mary likes himi
the i index indicates that in the sentence him is to be understood as referring
to Peter, though in theory it could also be understood as referring to a third
party previously mentioned.
comment: it forms a full sentence together with a topic. The comment is the new
information in the information structure of the sentence.
comparative form of adjectives: this form is used for comparison to a higher (or in
the case of less lower) degree when two constituents are compared: He is
taller than I am. This sentence contains inflectional comparative, but
there is another,
periphrastic way of comparison: This car is more
expensive than that one.
complement: an argument which follows the verb, or, more generally, a phrase
selected by a head.
complement rule: one of the three rules of X-bar theory of the following form:
X'→ X YP
which states that the intermediate category X'can be rewritten as X
(the head) and YP (the complement, always a full phrase of some
kind), in this order.
complementary distribution: two constituents are in complementary distribution if
one of them never appears in any of the environments where the other
appears. If two constituents are in complementary distribution it indicates
that they compete for the same structural position. E.g. we cannot have both
an inflectional ending and a modal auxiliary in the same clause as
these two occupy the head position within an
IP, thus the
ungrammaticality of *She can dances.
complementiser: a
constituent introducing a sentential complement. The
complementisers in English are that, if ,and for. They occupy the head
position of
CP and have selectional restrictions on the
force and
finiteness of the clause. Feature composition: [+F, –N, –V]
complementiser phrase (CP): a phrase headed by one of the three complementisers
that, if or for (in structures like It is important [for Jim to pass this exam]
435
Glossary
preposition but as a
prepositional
where for is used not as a
complementiser.) The complement of a CP is an
IP, the
specifier
position is occupied by moved wh-elements or whether.
complex transitive verb: a verb with a nominal and a prepositional complement,
e.g. put (the newspaper on the desk)
compound noun: two nouns put together to form a single noun, e.g. homework.
constituency test: a test for deciding whether a certain string of words is a
constituent or not, e.g.
coordination,
preposing,
extraposition,
substitution etc.
constituent: a linguistic expression that functions as a unit in grammatical structure. A
group of words that undergo syntactic processes together.
control: a term related to the interpretation of
PRO. E.g. in the sentence I
promised [PRO to visit her] the constituent I controls PRO, gives reference
to it. See also subject control, object control, arbitrary reference.
coordinating conjunction: elements connecting clauses or phrases on the same
level: and, or and but
coordination: one of the constituency tests where two elements of the same type are
put together to form a single element using a coordinating conjunction.
The coordinated element acts like the two coordinated elements would
individually.
coreference: when two or more referential phrases pick out the same entity in the
world they are said to be coreferential. Coreference is indicated by
coindexation: Peteri thinks that hei has every reason to be proud of
himselfi.
count noun: a noun that shows number distinction, e.g. one book/two books.
covert: invisible, without phonological realisation but still having grammatical
function
CP:
see Complementiser Phrase
dative alternate: see dative construction.
dative construction: an alternative to the verb–indirect object–direct object
construction where the indirect object appears in the form of a PP: I gave
an apple to Peter as opposed to I gave Peter an apple.
daughter: an immediate constituent of a node which then is the mother node.
declarative clause: a positive or negative statement mainly used to convey
information.
D(eep)-structure: the structure before movement takes place, a representation of
thematic relations.
defining relative clause: see restrictive relative clause.
definite determiner: a determiner like the or this that turns a nominal expression
into a definite DP.
definiteness: a category expressing whether a nominal expression is identifiable or
not. In the sentences A man was walking in the park with a dog. The man
sat on a bench and the dog ran away first we have indefinite individuals but
in the second sentence they can already be identified from the context.
Identification can also come from the situation or our knowledge of the
world (the Sun).
436
Glossary
DegP:
the functional projection on top of APs (similarly to DPs taking NP
complements) hosting degree modifiers like the superlative and comparative
morpheme.
degree adverb: a subclass of adverbs which specifies the degree to which some
property applies, e.g. very and extremely. Feature composition: [+F, +N,
+V]
derivational morpheme: it forms a new word from an existing one in the lexicon
with its own lexical properties. The meaning of the new word may differ
from the original word. Lexical process
derived noun: a noun derived from a word belonging to another word category. See
deverbal noun.
determiner: the head of a Determiner Phrase, a closed class item taking an NP
complement defining its definiteness. Feature composition: [+F, –N, +V]
determiner phrase (DP): a phrase headed by a central determiner or the possessive
’s morpheme. The complement of a DP is an NP, the specifier the DP
the possessive ending attaches to.
deverbal noun: a noun derived from a verb, e.g. a bite from the verb to bite.
direct object: the DP complement of a verb most often bearing the theta-role of
patient or theme.
distribution: the set of positions that the grammar determines to be possible for a
given category. Words that distribute in the same way will belong to the
same categories, words that distribute differently will belong to different
categories.
ditransitive verb: a verb with two nominal complements, e.g. give.
do-insertion: see do-support.
do-support: a last resort operation when neither the auxiliary nor the lexical verb
can move. We find it in the following structures:
(a) the VP has fronted:[crash the car] he did
(b) the inflection itself has inverted in a question: did he – crash the car?
(c) there is a negative between the I and the VP: he did not use the
windscreen wipers
double-object construction: the special construction when the verb give selects two
objects, an indirect object and a direct object, in this order, like in
the sentence Peter gave Mary a teddy bear.
Doubly Filled COMP Filter: no CP can have both an overt specifier and an
overt complementiser generated in C.
DP:
see Determiner Phrase.
DP-movement: the movement of DPs in passive and raising structures. In both
cases the DP is base-generated in a position where it cannot be assigned
Case. In terms of the Case Filter it has to move to a position where it
can be Case-marked.
dummy auxiliary: a certain form of the auxiliary do, its main function is to support
the tense morpheme when it cannot appear on the main verb
echo question: a question in which a previously uttered sentence is more or less
repeated and a part of it that was either not heard or not believed is replaced
437
Glossary
by a wh-element. The meaning is quite clear: it is a request for someone
to repeat or confirm the previous statement.
A: At the exam, I was asked about Zantedeschia.
B: You were asked about what?
ECM:
see Exceptional Case-marking.
E-language: the language that is external to the speaker – the infinite set of
expressions defined by the I-language – that linguists have access to
when formulating their grammars
embedded clause: a clause that is part of a larger constituent (I know [that you
like him], the man [that you like].
endocentric structure: one that gets its properties from an element that it contains,
this element can function by itself as a whole phrase. Such phrases have a
head that determines their categorial nature. It is a requirement in X-bar
theory that phrases be endocentric. A noun projects a noun phrase, a verb
a verb phrase etc.
ergative language: a language where the subject of an intransitive verb and the
object of a transitive verb have the same Case form.
ergative verb: a verb that can appear in a VP either (a) with a single theme
argument functioning as the subject of the
clause (The ship sank),
similarly to unaccusative structures or (b) in the presence of a light verb
together with an agentive subject (They sank the ship), when the structure is
similar to the structure of transitive verbs. As opposed to unaccusative
verbs, ergative verbs cannot appear in the existential there construction
(unless they are
ambiguous between the two readings), and they are
typically verbs expressing a change of state, like break, explode, grow.
event structure: verbs can express simple or complex events. Event structure
describes what sub-events an event expressed by a certain verb is made up
of. This has an effect on the syntactic organisation of elements within the
VP. There is supposed to be an isomorphism between event structure and
the structure of the VP: a VP breaks up into sub-vPs/VPs in a one-to-one
correspondence with the sub-events.
Exceptional Case-marking (ECM): in the normal case the Case assigner and the
constituent which is assigned Case are in the same clause. There are
structures, however, where it is impossible, e. g. in I believe him to be
disappointed. The
embedded clause contains non-finite
Inflection,
which is not a Case assigner. The only option for the subject DP to be
assigned Case is by an outside governor, hence the term, ECM. The verb
believe is a potential Case assigner since it can also take a DP complement
to which it assigns accusative Case: I believe him.
exceptional clause: clauses selected by exceptional verbs such as believe. What
makes them exceptional is that the clauses introduced by them are not
CPs as clauses in general are, but IPs. Evidence for this comes from
ungrammatical structures like *I believe for him to be the best. It is the
insertion of the prepositional complementiser that makes the sentence
ungrammatical indicating that the position to host it (head of CP) is not
projected, the clause is not a CP.
438
Glossary
exceptional verb: verbs selecting not a CP but an IP complement when their
complement is clausal. The most typical representative is believe, which is
an exceptional verb when it takes an infinitival complement (when its
clausal complement is finite, it is a full CP).
existential there-construction: a structure where there is used as an expletive,
introducing a nominal expression as in There were three girls waiting for
me. In such structures the emphasis is on the existence (or non-existence) of
the situation/the participants.
exocentric structure: one that contains no element that can have the same function as
the whole phrase, it appears to have properties that are independent from the
elements it contains. E.g. small clauses for a long time were assumed to
be exocentric structures.
experiencer: one of the thematic or theta-roles where the argument experiences
some physical or mental state, like Mary in Mary was afraid of dogs. The
specifier position of
vP,
experiencer theta-role is assigned in the
similarly to the agent role. If both an agent and an experiencer argument
are selected by the verb there are two vPs projected and the experiencer
occupies the specifier position of the lower vP.
expletive subject: a subject without reference, its presence is merely required by the
EPP. Expletive subjects have no theta-roles but they do receive Case
from finite Inflection. The expletives in the English language are there
introducing nominal expressions as in There lived a cruel dragon in the
forest and it introducing clauses as in It occurred to me too late that he
had not been invited. Both there and it have referential uses too!
extended projection: a Verb Phrase has an extended projection into IP and CP
in a clause. Similarly to it a noun phrase has an extended projection
into DP which may further project into a PP.
Extended Projection Principle (EPP): every
clause must have a (visible or
invisible) subject.
external argument: the subject, occupying a position external to the verb, [Spec, IP]
extraction site: the position from which elements move.
extraposition: a constituent ( PP, CP) moved from the phrase where it belongs
to a sentence final position: The rumour t has been circulating [that we will
have an oral exam this semester].
[±F]:
one of the three basic binary features on which all categories can be
defined. With the help of these features we can explain why we have the
categories that we do and also describe how these categories are related.
With the help of the three binary features we can predict what kinds of
categories are possible in human language, we can give an exclusive list of
them. [±F] is a feature used to distinguish between functional and thematic
categories. [–F] categories have thematic content and [+F] categories do
not. The categories with [+F] feature are the following:
inflections,
complementisers,
determiners and
degree adverbs. Certain
categories are unspecified for the [±F] feature, see underspecification.
finite clause: a clause containing a finite verb.
439
Glossary
finite verb form: a verb form that is inflected for tense in a visible or invisible
form. In English this inflection is visible only in the past tense or in SG3
in the present tense.
finiteness: whether a constituent (a clause or a verb) is understood as finite
or non-finite.
focus:
the stressed element in a sentence that carries new information.
focus fronting: focus can be indicated either by stress alone or by movement in
which latter case we speak about focus fronting, as the constituent that bears
focus stress moves to the front of the clause, as in Peter I wouldn'
t trust
foot of a chain: the lowest position an element has been moved from containing the
trace of the moved constituent; the extraction site of the moved element.
force:
the distinction between a declarative and an interrogative interpretation
of sentences.
free morpheme: a morpheme that can stand on its own, e.g. flower, walk. See also
bound morpheme
functional category: categories without lexical content, fulfilling some grammatical
function in a given structure:
inflections,
determiners,
degree
adverbs and complementisers.
gender: the contrast between masculine and feminine, or (in some languages)
animate and inanimate nominal expressions.
generative grammar: a grammar containing rules with the help of which we can
generate all and only the well-formed expressions of a
language
(therefore excluding the ungrammatical structures).
genitive Case: in traditional terminology the ’s ending on a nominal expression (e.g. in
Peter’s dog) is assumed to be the marker of genitive Case.
gerund: a verb form with a noun-like role in the sentence retaining characteristics
of both verbs and nouns as in [The patient'
s refusing of the medicine]
worried the doctors.
government: a structural relationship between a head and its complement.
Government is a necessary condition for case-assignment.
Government and Binding Theory (GB): a version of Noam Chomsky'
s universal
grammar according to which linguistic expressions, though infinite in
number, can be generated with the help of a restricted number of rules.
Grammatical expressions are the result of several interacting modules
within this system.
gradable adjective: an adjective that has comparative and superlative forms, e.g.
nice/nicer/nicest.
grammar: (a) a (finite) set of rules which tell us how to recognise the infinite number
of expressions that constitute the language that we speak. (b) a linguistic
hypothesis about these rules.
grammatical aspect: refers to how the event is viewed as a process: whether it has
stopped ( perfect aspect) or is still going on ( progressive aspect).
head:
a word level or zero level category. It projects its properties to the
phrase (XP) via the X'
, so that the category of X is the same as X'and XP.
The head defines the properties of the phrase. Heads also impose
restrictions on the type of the complement that can follow them.
440
Glossary
headless relative: a relative clause that does not appear to be a modifier inside a
nominal phrase as it appears without a noun, however it can be argued to
function as such, like in I spoke to [whoever I met].
Head Movement Constraint (HMC): a head must move to the next head position.
head of a chain: the position an element moves to, its final landing site.
heavy DP-shift: when the DP is particularly long and complicated, it may undergo
extraposition: You can post today [all the letters you have written in the
past five days]./*You can post today them.
HMC:
see Head Movement Constraint.
idiosyncratic: not predictable. The idiosyncratic properties of e.g. words are those that
are specific to that word, such as its phonological form, meaning and
subcategorisation frame. These properties cannot be described with the
help of rules, so they must be encoded in the lexicon.
I-language: the language which is internal to the mind; a finite system that linguists
try to model with grammars.
immediate constituent: the immediate constituent of a node is the node that is
lower than the given
constituent and is connected to it by a single
branch. It is the constituent directly below the node it is the immediate
constituent of.
imperative: a structure used to express a request or command. An imperative sentence
usually has no visible subject: Eat your breakfast, please.
implicit argument: an argument that is not present in the syntactic structure but
understood. In the sentence I am eating the transitive verb eating has no
visible object, still, the sentence means that something is eaten.
indefinite determiner: a determiner like a or some turning a nominal expression
into an indefinite DP.
indirect object: one of the objects of e.g. the verb give in the double object
construction assigned the theta-role of beneficiary.
infinitive: a non-finite, uninflected verb form either with or without to.
inflection: (a) a morpheme added to the end of words of a given category in
sentence structure as required by the given structure, e.g. -s in Peter like-s
his dog or -er in Peter is clever-er than Tony.
(b) the head of an Inflectional Phrase. It can be realised as a modal
auxiliary or a zero agreement morpheme. Information about tense can be
found in a separate vP directly under IP.
inflectional comparison: the comparative and superlative forms of the adjective are
expressed with the help of the inflectional endings -er and -est. E.g.
hungrier/hungriest. See also periphrastic comparison.
inflectional morpheme: it does not change the category of the lexical element to
which it is added, it provides another form of the word, e.g. the past
inflectional morpheme -ed. The meaning of the original word does not
change. Syntactic process.
inflectional phrase (IP): in traditional grammars the IP is a phrase headed by an
inflectional element which can be a modal auxiliary (e.g. may, should,
will), infinitival to or the bound morphemes expressing tense (-ed, -s)
the latter undergoing Affix Lowering to form a unit with the verb. In the
441
Glossary
present approach, however, it has been argued that the head position of the
IP contains only the modal auxiliaries and the (in English) invisible
agreement morpheme, information about Tense can be found in an
independent vP hosting infinitival to, and the bound morphemes -ed and -s
also appear here. The
specifier position of an IP is occupied by the
subject (see canonical subject position), the complement of an I is usually
a
VP or
vP (but see
small clauses for an exception). IPs are
complements of CPs or ECM verbs.
intermediate projection: the X-bar level projection connecting the zero-level (or
word-level) projection X and the maximal (or phrase-level) projection
XP.
interrogative clause: a structure mainly used to ask for information, either in the form
of a yes–no question or a wh-question.
intransitive verb: a verb without a nominal complement (the object), e.g. ski. Its
subject is either an agent or an experiencer, i.e. one of the theta-roles
assigned to the specifier of a vP. Occasionally intransitive verbs appear
with a cognate object.
IP:
see Inflectional Phrase.
irregular: cannot be described with the help of a rule, exceptional.
isomorphism: a one-to-one correspondence between the members of two sets.
I-to-C movement: the generative equivalent of the descriptive notion of subject–
auxiliary inversion attested in questions like ‘Can you swim?’, where the
auxiliary is assumed to move from the head position of IP to the head
position of CP.
landing site: the position elements move to.
language: a system that enables people who speak it to produce and understand
linguistic expressions.
lexical ambiguity: the source of
ambiguity is a lexical constituent which is
associated with more than one meaning in the lexicon, e.g. bank, hot.
lexical aspect or aktionsart: aspect internal to the meaning of the verb, e.g. some
verbs describe events with an endpoint (eat), as opposed to others without a
natural endpoint (sit).
lexical entry: a collection of the idiosyncratic properties of lexical items.
lexical verb: a verb with lexical content as opposed to one having grammatical
function in the structure.
lexicon: a mental dictionary where we store information about all the words we use
focusing on the idiosyncratic properties such as pronunciation, meaning,
etc.
light verb: a verb occupying the head of a vP used in combination with another
element, typically a noun or verb, where the light verb’s contribution to the
meaning of the whole construction is less than that of a fully thematic main
verb, e.g. to take a shower=to shower. Certain verbs expressing aspectual
(be, have) or modal (let) meaning also belong here. According to the
proposals in the present book the following constituents can appear within
the vP in a visible or abstract form (see also vP-shells):
442
Glossary
– agentive arguments in the specifier positions
– experiencer arguments in the specifier position
– goal arguments in the double-object construction as specifiers
– the passive -en morpheme in the head of vP
– the aspectual morphemes -en and -ing in the head of vP
– the tense morpheme in the head of vP
linguistics: the scientific study of language.
Locality Restrictions on Movement: a head cannot move over the top of another
subject cannot move over the top of another subject – a
head, a
constituent cannot move over the top of a like constituent. See also
Relativized Minimality.
Locality Restriction on Theta-role Assignment: a predicate assigns its
-roles
to either its complement or its specifier.
locative inversion: a structure where a PP locative argument apparently sits in
subject position while the DP theme sits behind the verb, as in In the
corner sat a shadowy figure.
main clause: a clause that is not embedded in another clause. In the sentence I
know that you are clever the main clause is I know selecting an embedded
CP.
mass noun: a noun that does not show number distinction, e.g. tea/a cup of tea. See
also partitive construction.
matrix clause: very often used as a synonym for main clause. However, in the case
of multiple embeddings there is a difference between the two. In the
sentence I know that she thinks she is hopeless the main clause is I know,
which also functions as the matrix clause for the first embedding that she
thinks she is hopeless. The matrix clause for she is hopeless is the clause
selecting it that she thinks, but it is not a main clause.
maximal projection: the phrase-level projection, XP, where X is a
categorial
variable.
measure noun: a non-thematic, non-functional noun indicating quantity, e.g. loaf in a
loaf of bread.
missing subject: in terms of the EPP every clause must have a subject, so clauses
cannot have a missing subject. In certain structures it seems to be the case,
however, it can be argued that these clauses only have a missing visible
subject, there is an abstract element occupying the subject position in
these clauses as well, either in the form of a trace or PRO.
modal auxiliary verb: an auxiliary verb expressing modal meanings like necessity,
possibility, permission, e.g. may, should, can, will, etc.. They are always
finite so they occupy the head position of IP and take vP or VP
complements.
module:
GB is made up of different but interacting components called modules,
e.g. Theta Theory, X-bar Theory, Case Theory. The interaction of
these modules generates the grammatical structures of language.
morpheme: the smallest meaningful unit. Words can be made up of one or more
morphemes. See also bound morpheme, free morpheme.
443
Glossary
morphological case: there is a morphologically visible indication of Case on the
nominal expression ( DP). In English case is not visible on lexical DPs,
only in the pronoun system with several examples of case syncretism
(he/him, she/her, but it, you)
morphology: the study of words and how words are structured.
mother: a node directly above another node.
Move : move anything anywhere. Further restrictions on movement come from
factors independent from the formulation of the movement rule.
movement: S-structure constituents do not always appear in the position where
they are base-generated in D-structure, they often move from their
base positions to other structural positions. There can be various reasons
motivating movement, see wh-movement and DP-movement.
multiple light verb: the internal structure of the VP and the structure of the event
expressed by the verb are
isomorphic. If the event structure of the
predicate is complex we have multiple light verbs in the structure. Light
verbs can also express tense and aspect
multiple wh-question: a single question that asks for more than one piece of
information hence contains more than one wh-element, e.g. Who did you
say said what?
[±N]:
one of the three basic binary features on which all categories can be
defined. With the help of these features we can explain why we have the
categories that we do and also describe how these categories are related.
With the help of the three binary features we can predict what kinds of
categories are possible in human language, we can give an exclusive list
of them. Since we want to define verbs and nouns as polar opposites the
abstract binary features [±N] and [±V] were introduced, though obviously
they do not mean noun and verb and are used to define other categories
besides nouns and verbs. A property linked to the [–N] feature is the ability
to have a nominal complement. The categories with [+N] feature are the
following: a.
thematic: nouns,
adjectives; b.
functional:
determiners,
degree adverbs; unspecified for the [F] value: postdeterminers, measure nouns.
negative fronting: a movement type where a negative element is placed at the
beginning of the clause as in Never have I met such a talented musician!
node:
a symbol defining syntactic units ( heads,
intermediate constituents,
phrases) connected by branches in a tree structure representation.
nominative Case: the Case assigned to DPs in the subject position of finite
clauses. The Case assigner is the finite Inflectional head.
non-defining relative clause: see non-restrictive relative clause.
non-finite clause: a clause in which no finite verb is present.
non-finite verb form: a verb form without independent tense interpretation. In the
sentences I want to walk and I wanted to walk the embedded clause to
walk is non-finite, its tense interpretation depends on the matrix clauses.
non-referential: without reference. In the sentence There are 24 students in the group
the expletive there is non-referential as opposed to there in She was
standing there.
444
Glossary
non-restrictive relative clause: this clause-type is used to add extra information
rather than to restrict the application of the noun. They only have the whrelative form (as opposed to restrictive relatives): Yesterday I met your
father, who is a very intelligent man.
noun: a word that names people, places or things that can have a plural form. Feature
composition: [+N, –V, –F]
noun phrase (NP): a phrase headed by a noun. Noun heads can take PP or CP
complements, DP complements are excluded since nouns are not Case
specifier position of an NP is occupied by what are
assigners. The
generally called post-determiners. NPs are complements of DPs.
NP:
see Noun Phrase.
NP-movement: see DP-movement.
Null Case: the Case assigned to PRO in the subject position of non-finite
clauses.
number: a contrast between singular and plural as in a shirt/several shirts. The
English regular plural marker is -s.
object: a DP complement immediately following the verb. It can move to the
subject position in passive sentences. See also direct object, indirect
object.
object control: PRO can be coreferent either with the subject or the object of the
preceding clause depending on the main verb. The verb tell is an objectcontrol verb, in the sentence I told him [PRO to go] PRO is coreferent with
the object.
object position: the specifier position of VP.
of-insertion: a rescue strategy to avoid a Case Filter violation. APs and NPs
are unable to assign Case to their complements, so their semantic DP
argument is realised as a PP and the preposition of is inserted: to be
envious of Mary (compare with to envy Mary)
one-place predicate: a predicate with one argument, e.g. walk.
operator: constituents affecting the interpretation of the sentence indicating a
process that is needed to work out the meaning of the sentence that contains
them; quantifiers and wh-elements.
overt:
visible, having phonological realisation
participle: a
non-finite verb form, can be past or present: Singing (present
participle) always out of tune, I got on the nerves of my music teacher./I
have never met most of the people invited (past participle) to the wedding.
partitive Case: Case that can be born only by indefinites, available in the postverbal position in there-constructions.
partitive construction: if we want to count mass nouns we can do so by inserting
an appropriate term expressing some unit of the given mass noun which will
result in a partitive construction: two bars of chocolate, a glass of milk.
passive structure: a verb with the -en ending often (but not always) preceded by an
inflected form of be. Passive verbs do not have a vP-projection similar to
vPs in active structures. The vP in passives is headed by the passive -en
morpheme which does not assign theta role to the subject and for this reason
it is unable to case-mark its nominal complement (see Burzio’s
445
Glossary
Generalisation), so the DP has to move from its base-position to a
Case-position.
passive voice: the subject of the passive sentence is interpreted as the object of the
verb.
patient: one of the thematic or theta-roles where the argument is affected by the
action described by the verb, e.g. in Peter stroked the cat the cat is directly
affected by this activity.
perfect aspect: an action is viewed as being completed, e.g. in I have written my
homework.
periphrastic comparison of adjectives: the comparative and superlative forms of the
adjective are expressed with the degree adverbs more and most. E.g.
more indignant/most indignant
phonologically empty: not having phonological, visible realisation, but still present,
syntactically active in an abstract, unpronounced form, e.g. PRO is a
phonologically empty category, similarly to traces.
phonology: the study of the sound patterns of language.
phrasal category: a category of phrases as opposed to words.
phrasal verb: see verb–particle construction.
phrase: a group of words that can undergo syntactic operations (e.g. movement)
as a unit.
pied-piping: one of the strategies of wh-movement when the wh-element is part
of a PP. The wh-element does not move alone, it takes the preposition
along with it: [With who]i did you go to the cinema ti yesterday? See also
preposition stranding.
pleonastic subject: see expletive subject.
plural noun: a noun denoting more than one entity, e.g. three teddy bears. Count
nouns can be used either in the singular or the plural form.
positive form of adjectives: the
base form of the
adjective appearing in
structures expressing comparison to the same degree, like in He is as tall as
I am.
post-determiner: traditionally it is a determiner following a central determiner
but within the framework of Government and Binding Theory it can be
claimed that it is actually an AP that acts to quantify over a noun, and
occupies the specifier position of NPs, e.g. many, few.
PP:
see Preposition Phrase.
pragmatics: a branch of linguistics concerned with the meaning of sentences as they
are uttered in a given context. E.g. the sentence It'
s very hot in here can be
understood as a request to open a window.
pre-determiner: traditionally pre-determiners are those determiners that appear in
front of central determiners within a nominal expression. These are three
in number: all, both and half. In the present approach, however, they are
analysed similarly to central determiners, they also occupy the head position
of DP to account for why they can also be followed by a PP beginning
with of as in all the girls/all of the girls.
446
Glossary
predicate: the part of the clause excluding the subject giving information about the
subject: Mary [is clever/likes chocolate/is waiting for Jamie/was in bed/is a
university student].
prefix: a
bound morpheme added to the beginning of a word, e.g. un- in
unimportant.
preposing: the movement of PPs, VPs, negative expressions to the beginning
of the sentence: Under no circumstances would I read another novel by him.
preposition: a syntactic unit preceding its complement, the most often a
DP
semantic relationship between the
defining a special syntactic and/or
complement and another constituent: cat in the bag/grapes of wrath/tea
without sugar/a reduction of taxes. Feature composition: [–F, –N, –V].
preposition phrase (PP): a phrase headed by a preposition. It usually takes a
DP complement but certain types of CPs can also appear in the
complement position of PPs. PPs themselves can be complements of
different constituents such as verbs, nouns and adjectives.
prepositional complementiser: the
complementiser for, introducing non-finite
declarative clauses. Due to its
prepositional origin it can assign
accusative Case to visible subjects of infinitival clauses, e.g. in It is
important for Jane/her to win the game. It is very easy to make a difference
between for used as a preposition and for used as a complementiser: when
for is followed only by a DP it is a preposition (I bought a bar of
chocolate for my kids on Saturday.), when it is followed by a DP and a toinfinitive it is a prepositional complementiser introducing an IP. The DP
appears in the specifier position of this IP as subjects in general do (It is
advisable for you to prepare well for the syntax exam.).
prepositional object: the complement DP of a preposition.
prepositional verb: a verb with a prepositional complement, e.g. look at sg
preposition stranding: one of the strategies of
wh-movement when the whelement is part of a PP. The wh-element moves alone and leaves the
preposition behind: Whoi did you laugh at ti? See also pied-piping.
Preposition stranding can also be found in passive structures when a verb
taking a PP complement is passivised, in this case preposition stranding is
obligatory: The new student was talked about.
PRO:
the phonologically empty DP appearing in the subject position of
non-finite clauses. It bears
Null Case and takes the
theta-role
assigned by the non-finite verb to its subject.
productive morpheme: a
morpheme that can be attached regularly to any
appropriate stem. The formation of the past tense with the -ed ending is a
productive process, a new verb that enters the English language will be
formed with this morpheme, thus, the -ed ending to express past tense is a
productive morpheme.
progressive aspect: the event is viewed as being in progress, e.g. I was having a bath
when my sister arrived. Having a bath was an activity in progress when the
other past activity happened.
Projection Principle: lexical information is syntactically represented.
447
Glossary
pronominal: those DPs that cannot have a binder within the binding domain.
See also anaphor.
pronoun: a DP that usually refers to another DP, but contains only the grammatical
features ( number, person,
gender) of it (I, you, he, she, etc.). Its
interpretation depends on linguistic factors or the situation. Within the DP
pronouns occupy the D head position, as they cannot be modified by
determiners even on very special readings (as opposed to grammaticality
of the John I met yesterday)
proper noun: a name, e.g. John, Wendy Smith, the Beatles. Within the DP it
appears as an NP (as opposed to pronouns)
quantificational operator: an
operator that is interpreted like quantificational
pronouns like every, all, some, e.g. wh-elements in questions. See also
anaphoric operator.
quantifier: a
determiner that expresses a
definite or
indefinite amount or
number of the nominal expression it modifies, e.g. all, both, some, many,
four.
quasi-argument: the subject of weather-verbs (it in It'
s raining) and potentially there
in existential there-constructions.
raising: a process whereby the subject of an embedded infinitival clause moves to
the subject position of the verb selecting the clause. In such structures
the selecting verb is a one- argument verb selecting a clause (like seem). If
the clause is non-finite, the subject of the embedded clause is not
assigned Case within the clause, but since the subject position of the
selecting verb is empty it can move there to be case-marked.
raising adjective: an adjective inducing raising, e.g. likely in Peter is likely to
win.
raising verb: a verb inducing raising, e.g. seem, appear.
recoverable: a constituent is recoverable if it can be identified even if it has undergone
deletion. Recoverability is a condition on syntactic processes.
recursive rule: a rule where the definition refers to what is being defined, e.g. the
adjunct rule. The same symbol appears on the left and on the right of the
rewrite rule, so the rule can be applied indefinitely. The application of
such a rule is optional for this reason.
referential: something that refers to something. Lexical DPs are referential, e.g.
anaphors are not, they gain reference by coindexation with a referential
element.
reflexive pronoun: a DP without independent reference, e.g. himself. Reflexives
always need an antecedent.
regular: can be described with the help of a rule, e.g. the regular plural form of
nominal expressions is formed by adding the plural morpheme -s.
relative clause: relative clauses are adjoined to NPs, they give information about
the nominal expression. See restrictive and non-restrictive relative clause.
Relativized Minimality: a rule expressing the locality conditions on movement, see
also Locality Restrictions on Movement.
X
Y
Z
where X, Y and Z are of the same type
448
Glossary
restrictive relative clause: a
clause which modifies a noun by restricting its
application to one of a number of possibilities. Restrictive relatives come in
three forms: that-relative, wh-relative and zero relative.
rewrite rule: a phrase structure rule defining what the immediate constituents of
e.g. a phrase are. On the left of the rule we find the phrase-type being
defined followed by an arrow. On the right side of the arrow we can find the
immediate constituents of the given phrase, which may be further rewritten.
Bracketed
constituents indicate optionality, the presence of a comma
means that the order of the constituents is not restricted to the order found in
the rule. See also adjunct rule, specifier rule, complement rule.
R-expression: referential expression, a nominal with independent reference, e.g.
Peter as opposed to he or himself.
semantics: the study of meaning. It covers both lexical meaning and the meaning of
sentences with special emphasis on their truth conditions (under what
circumstances a sentence is true/false).
sentence medial adverb: an adverb modifying the meaning of a verb appearing in a
position adjoined to the VP. In traditional approaches it is used as a
diagnostic test to decide whether a
constituent moved upwards or
downwards. If the sentence medial adverb precedes the inflected verb the
inflectional head lowered onto the verbal head, e.g. in She ti always
enjoy-edi going to parties. If the sentence contains an inflected aspectual
auxiliary this constituent precedes the sentence medial adverb indicating
that the verbal head moved up to the inflectional head position: She is (bei
+s) always ti singing./She has (havei+s) always ti enjoyed going to parties.
sentential adverb: an adverb which modifies the meaning of the sentence, e.g.
fortunately.
singular noun: a noun denoting one entity, e.g. a teddy bear. Count nouns can be
singular or plural.
sister nodes: two nodes that have the same mother.
small clause: a clause where a subject– predicate relationship is established but no
inflectional element is present. The predicate can be expressed by an
AP (I consider [her reliable]), a DP (I consider [her the best student]),
or a PP (I want [these news in press]). Small clauses are often called
verbless
clauses but it is misleading since small clauses can contain
VPs in certain cases like in I saw [him run away]. Such clauses are
analysed as IPs where the zero agreement morpheme can be found as in
several languages we find agreement markers on the subject and the
predicate in these structures.
specificity: a nominal expression is specific if the speaker knows the identity of its
reference. The sentence I am looking for a pen is ambiguous between a
specific and a non-specific interpretation: the pen may be a certain pen the
speaker has in mind or any pen may do.
specifier position: a position defined by X-bar Theory. The specifier is sister to
X'
, daughter of XP. It is a phrasal position, the nature of the phrase
depends on what it is the specifier of. E.g. the specifier of IP is the
subject, the specifier of DP is the possessor in possessive structures.
449
Glossary
specifier rule: one of the three rules of
XP
X-bar Theory of the following form:
YP X'
specifier is the phrase-sized
constituent preceding the
where the
intermediate projection. The order of YP and X'is fixed.
structural ambiguity: the source of
ambiguity is not
lexical. The different
interpretations can be explained by assigning different structural
representations to the ambiguous expression, e.g. in the DP an analysis of
sentences with mistakes the PP with mistakes can be interpreted either as
referring to the analysis or sentences. The structural difference between the
representations will be the placement of the adjunct PP: in the former
meaning the PP is the adjunct of the DP analysis, in the latter case it is
the adjunct of the DP sentences.
Structure Preservation Principle: no movement can alter the basic X-bar nature of
structure, structures are projected from the lexicon at all levels.
subcategorisation frame: that part of the lexical entry that states the categorial
status of the complement.
subcategory: a category under a main category, e.g. the category of intransitive
verbs is a subcategory of the verbal category.
subject: the argument that precedes the VP in the sentence. Also called the
external argument since it occupies the specifier position of IP, the
canonical subject position.
subject control: PRO can be coreferent either with the subject or the object of the
preceding clause depending on the main verb. The verb promise is a
subject-control verb, in the sentence I promise [PRO not to destroy my
brother'
s castle again] PRO is coreferent with the subject.
subject movement: the
movement of the
subject from its
base position
(Spec,vP or Spec,VP) to a Case position (Spec,IP).
subject position: the position where subjects appear in the tree. The base position
of the subject depends on its theta role. Agents and experiencers are
generated in Spec,vP. Theme subjects appear in Spec,VP. These positions
are not Case positions, so the subjects move to the canonical subject
position, Spec, IP.
subject–auxiliary inversion: a descriptive cover term for the reverse order of the
subject and the auxiliary in questions like Can you dance?, see also I-to-C
movement.
substitution: a) one of the
constituency tests to define whether a certain
constituent is the same type as another. If a constituent can be substituted
by another one it is assumed to be of the same type. E.g. lexical nominal
expressions can be substituted by
pronoun forms, so they are both
assumed to be DPs: The girl I met yesterday/She will visit her family
tomorrow.
b) a type of movement where a constituent is moved into an empty position
already existing prior to movement, see also adjunction.
suffix:
a bound morpheme added to the end of the word, e.g. -ful in mouthful.
450
Glossary
superlative form of adjectives: comparison to a higher (or in the case of least lower)
degree when there are more than two agents involved: He is the tallest of
us. The periphrastic way of forming the superlative is with the help of
most: He is the most sophisticated man I have ever met.
S(urface)-structure: post- movement structure containing the traces of moved
constituents.
syntax: the study of sentence structure
tense:
a syntactic category with the help of which we can locate an event or
situation in time. In syntactic representation information about tense can be
found within the vP appearing directly under the IP in the form of -s, -ed
or the zero tense morpheme.
that-relative: a relative clause that is introduced by the complementiser that: The
cat that I found yesterday.
thematic category: categories with lexical content: verbs, nouns, adjectives,
prepositions.
thematic hierarchy: the hierarchy of the assignment of thematic roles. Agents
are higher than experiencers, which in turn are higher than themes. The
theta-roles lower on the hierarchy have to be assigned first (if present).
thematic role: see theta-role.
theme: one of the thematic roles where the argument is not affected by the
action described by the verb e.g. in Peter saw John nothing directly happens
to John as a result of being seen. In terms of the UTAH the theme thetarole is assigned to the specifier position of the VP.
there-construction: see existential there-construction.
Theta Criterion: – a
-role must be assigned to one and only one argument
– an argument must bear one and only one -role.
theta-grid: that part of a predicate’s lexical entry which informs us about what
theta-roles the predicate has.
theta-marking: the assignment of theta-roles.
theta role: the semantic role of the participants as required by the predicate. E.g.
verbs define what kind of semantic relationship is to be established between
the verb itself and the arguments of the verb, and arguments are selected
accordingly. The verb kick calls for an agent subject, so its subject
position cannot be occupied by e.g. my CD-player.
Theta Theory: a module of GB accounting for how verbs assign theta-roles to
their arguments.
three-place predicate: a predicate with three arguments, e.g. give.
to-infinitive: an infinitive appearing with to, a non-finite verb-form.
topic:
an element appearing in front of the subject with a special interpretation
(something like ‘as far as topic is concerned’). Topics have either already
been mentioned before in a conversation or can be interpreted as easily
accessible due to the context.
topicalisation: a process which moves an element interpreted as a topic to the front
of the sentence.
451
Glossary
trace:
moved constituents leave traces in the position where they have been
moved from. Once a trace is present in a structure, no other constituent can
land in the position occupied by it.
transitive verb: a verb with a nominal complement, e.g. read, buy. The agentive
subject occupies the specifier position of vP, the theme object
occupies the specifier position of VP.
tree diagram: a representation of grammatical structure containing nodes connected
by branches.
two-place predicate: a predicate with two arguments, e.g. write.
unaccusative verb: a verb taking one argument to which it assigns a theme
theta-role in the specifier position of a VP. They may also optionally
PP. Some of the
take a location or path argument expressed by a
unaccusative verbs in English are arrive, appear, sit, they are typically
verbs of movement or location. Unaccusative verbs can appear in the
existential there construction or locative inversion structures. They do
not take objects of any kind, see also cognate object.
underspecification: a feature can have values which are not determined. [±F] is
supposed to be such a feature in the classification of word categories. The
categories with underspecified features are the following:
aspectual
auxiliaries [–N, +V], measure nouns [+N, –V], post-determiners [+N,
+V], the non-thematic, non-functional uses of the prepositions of and by
[–N, –V]
ungradable adjective: an adjective that has no comparative and superlative forms.
The absence of these forms is due to semantic reasons. E.g. polar, atomic
Uniform Theta-role Assignment Hypothesis (UTAH): a
-role is assigned in the
same structural position in all structures in which it is present.
unpronounced: see phonologically empty
verb:
a word used to describe an event or situation that can appear in one of the
five verb forms. Feature composition: [–N, +V, –F].
verb forms: base form, past tense form, the third person singular present form,
the perfective (same as passive) form and the progressive form.
verb phrase (VP): a phrase headed by a verb. It is in the VP together with the vp(s)
that the basic argument structure of the clause is formed, thus, thetarole assignment takes place here. The specifier position of the VP is
occupied by the constituent bearing the theme/patient
theta role. In
passive structures this constituent has to move from the specifier position of
the verb to the specifier position of IP in order to get Case. A VP can
have different types of complements such as a DP, CP, IP, PP.
verb–particle construction: a structure where the particle appearing together with the
verb does not function as a preposition, which forms a unit with its DP
complement. Rather, the particle seems to form a unit with the verb. Several
differences between verb–particle constructions and prepositional verb
structures follow from this, e.g. a preposition can be moved together with its
DP complement, a particle cannot: in this hut, he lived for ten years/*off this
hat, he took in an instant.
452
Glossary
[±V]:
one of the three basic binary features on which all categories can be
defined. With the help of these features we can explain why we have the
categories that we do and also describe how these categories are related.
With the help of the three binary features we can predict what kinds of
categories are possible in human language, we can give an exclusive list
of them. Since we want to define verbs and nouns as polar opposites the
abstract binary features [±N] and [±V] were introduced, though obviously
they do not mean noun and verb and are used to define other categories
besides nouns and verbs. The categories with [±V] feature are the following:
a.
thematic:
verbs,
prepositions; b.
functional:
inflections,
degree adverbs, aspectual auxiliaries; unspecified for the [F] value:
aspectual auxiliaries, post-determiners.
voice: a distinction between active voice and passive voice. It applies only to
sentences containing transitive verbs.
voiced sound: a sound produced with the vibration of the vocal cords, e.g. d, z, g.
voiceless/unvoiced sound: a sound produced without the vibration of the vocal cords,
e.g. t, s, k.
VP adverb: an
adverb which modifies the meaning of the verb, e.g. always,
already, never.
VP-Internal Subject Hypothesis: the hypothesis according to which subjects are not
base-generated in the specifier position of IP but move there from
within the vP or VP where they are selected and theta-marked by the
verb (see also canonical subject position). The movement of the DP is
case-motivated.
VP:
see Verb Phrase
vP (pronounced: little vP): a phrase headed by a light verb taking a VP
complement hosting
agent or
experiencer
arguments in its
specifier position. For a list of elements that can appear in vp see light
verb.
vP-shell:
vP-projection(s) on VP: if the event structure of the verb is complex,
the structural representation of the verb will be complex, too. The number
of vP-shells surrounding the VP core depends on the theta-role of the
arguments. If there is an agent or an experiencer selected by the verb
one vP-projection is needed. If both an agent and an experiencer are present
there are two vPs, the lower hosting the experiencer.
whether: though in certain cases whether is interchangeable with if, which is a
complementiser, whether cannot be regarded as such since it does not
impose selectional restrictions on the finiteness of the clause following it.
Both I wonder whether to invite him and I wonder whether I should invite
him are grammatical. Rather, whether is assumed to occupy the specifier
position of CP similarly to wh-elements. An argument in favour of this
approach is that whether also introduces only interrogative clauses.
wh-movement: the movement of a wh-element to the beginning of the clause.
This movement is obligatory in English.
wh-question: a question containing a wh-element. It cannot be answered with yes or
no.
453
Glossary
wh-relative: a relative clause introduced not by a complementiser but a whelement: The girl [whom I invited].
wh-element: question word. Question words often but not always begin with these
letters, e.g. where, what, when, who, whom. The question word how is also
considered a wh-element. Whether, although a word beginning with wh is
not considered to be a wh-element in this sense.
word category: a set of expressions that share certain linguistic features, a grouping of
words that cluster together, e.g. noun, verb. See also functional category,
thematic category.
X-bar theory: a module of GB containing three very simple rules to describe the
structure of the expressions of a
language. See also specifier rule,
complement rule, adjunct rule.
yes–no question: a question that can be answered either with yes or no, formed either
by inverting the auxiliary with the subject as in Would you like to go to the
dummy do as in Did you enjoy the
cinema? or the insertion of
performance?.
zero inflectional morpheme: as the morphology of the English language is rather
impoverished very often we have no visible markers of person and
number agreement on the verb (the exception being the third person
singular -s morpheme in the present tense). In the other cases the
inflection is assumed to be present in an invisible form. The zero
inflectional morpheme is one without phonological realisation but it
has syntactic functions to fulfil in the structure.
zero level projection: the head of a phrase, X in an XP.
zero relative: a relative clause that could be but is not introduced by an overt
complementiser: The man [- I told you about yesterday].
-role: see theta role.
454
Bibliography
Baker, Mark C. (1988): Incorporation: A Theory of Grammatical Function Changing.
University of Chicago Press. Chicago, IL.
Belletti, Adriana (1988): The Case of unaccusatives. Linguistic Inquiry 19.1. 1–35
Burzio, Luigi (1986): Italian Syntax. Reidel. Dordrecht.
Chomsky, Noam (1957): Syntactic Structures. Mouton. the Hague.
Chomsky, Noam (1970): Remarks on nominalistion. In R. Jacobs and P. S.
Rosenbaum (eds.): Readings in English Transformational Grammar. Ginn and
Co. Waltham, Mass.
Chomsky, Noam (1991): Some notes on economy of derivation and representation. In
Robert Freidin (ed.): Principles and Parameters in Comparative Grammar.
MIT Press. Cambridge, Mass. 417–545. First published in 1989 in MIT
Working Papers in Linguistics 10. 43–74.
Chomsky, Noam and Howard Lasnik (1977): Filters and Control. Linguistic Inquiry 8.
425–504.
Chomsky, Noam and Howard Lasnik (1993): Principles and parameters theory. In J.
Jacobs, AS. von Stechow, W. Sternefeld and T. Vennemann (eds.): Syntax: An
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69.
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edition. Blackwell. Oxford, England.
Jackendoff, Raymond (1977): X-Bar Syntax: A Study of Phrase Structure. MIT Press.
Cambridge, Mass.
Jesperson, Otto (1965): A Modern English Grammar on Historical Principles Part IV:
Morphology. George Allen and Unwin Ltd. London.
Pollock, Jean-Yves (1989): Verb movement, Universal Grammar and the structure of
IP. Linguistic Inquiry 20. 365–424.
Radford, Andrew (1988) Transformational Grammar. Cambridge University Press.
Cambridge, England.
Radford, Andrew (2004): English Syntax: An Introduction. Cambridge University
Press. Cambridge, England.
Rizzi, Luigi (1990): Relativized Minimality. MIT Press. Cambridge, Mass.
Stowell, Tim (1981): Origins of Phrase Structure. PhD. dissertation. MIT. Cambridge,
Mass.
Stowell, Tim (1983): Subjects across categories. The Linguistic Review 2. 285–312.
Travis, Lisa (1984): Parameters and Effects of Word Order Variation. PhD.
dissertation. MIT. Cambridge, Mass.
Webelhuth, Gert (1995) X-bar theory. In Gert Webelhuth (ed.): Government and
Binding Theory and the Minimalist Program. Blackwell. Oxford.
Index
A.
adjacency 221
adjective 11, 13, 14, 17, 25, 28, 30–38,
39, 46–9, 53, 54, 74, 80, 105, 106,
108, 109, 144, 157, 160, 206, 223,
329, 330, 336, 337
comparative form of adjectives 31,
32, 34, 35, 38, 46, 49, 54
positive form of adjectives 31
superlative form of adjectives 31,
32, 35, 38, 46, 49, 54
ungradable adjective 31, 32
adjective phrase (AP) 73, 79, 86, 88,
98, 105–108, 144, 155–58, 223,
224, 289, 297, 319–21
adjunct 95, 105–10, 114, 129, 141–46,
155, 170, 220–24, 247, 260, 286,
297, 299, 318
adjunct rule 95, 105
adjunction 105–10, 110, 114, 115,
129, 130, 144, 145, 165, 179, 181,
196, 204–206, 208, 212, 220–27,
247, 252, 253, 260–61, 289, 290,
297, 298, 300, 302
adverb 25, 30–38, 48, 54, 71, 98, 155,
156, 205–207, 220–23, 234, 252,
253, 260, 287, 288, 297, 298, 337
degree adverb 11, 14, 32, 34, 46,
47–49, 54, 273
sentential adverb 220, 253, 260,
261, 297
VP adverb 220, 221, 247, 252, 260,
261
Affix Lowering 248
agglutination 246
agreement 20, 21, 43, 75, 76, 143, 150,
180, 181, 238, 245, 246–51, 253,
258, 259, 265, 274, 277, 280–87,
291, 302, 303, 305, 320, 321, 326,
327, 336
aktionsart see lexical aspect
ambiguity 44, 78, 89, 90, 143, 169,
170, 175, 176, 218, 226
anaphor 305, 333, 334, 335
anaphoric operator 295
antecedent 99, 100, 128, 148, 295,
324, 325, 333–36
AP see Adjective Phrase
arbitrariness 4, 6, 335
arbitrary reference 334, 335
argument 15–30, 37, 40, 41, 53, 63,
65, 66, 74–79, 82, 97, 103, 104,
106, 110, 111, 113–20, 124, 128,
146, 160, 165, 168–203, 209–13,
221–25, 265, 269, 277, 319, 322–
25, 339
implicit argument 323
quasi-argument 186
aspect 21, 40, 165–68, 172, 196, 214,
215, 218, 220, 241, 245, 336, 340
grammatical aspect 167, 168
lexical aspect 167
perfect aspect 21, 22, 40, 52, 167,
196, 217–19, 241, 242
progressive aspect 21, 22, 38, 40,
52, 167, 217, 241, 242
asterisk 65
B.
Baker, Mark C. 117
barrier 315, 333
base form 22, 242, 248
Basque 176
Belletti, Adriana 184
binary features 12–15
binding 181, 281, 340
binding domain 333–35
binding principles 334
biner 334, 335
boundedness of movement 132
bracketed representation 18, 40, 63, 72
branch 71, 221
Index
233–37, 250, 254–261, 265–67,
268–70, 274–302, 305, 311–36
conditional clause 272
declarative clause 19, 51, 209, 214,
265, 267–70, 273, 274, 279, 291
embedded clause 41, 64, 72, 121,
235, 250, 257, 267, 268, 274,
280–83, 285, 288, 298, 300, 302,
312, 326, 327
exceptional clause 270, 311–21,
333, 341
interrogative clause 19, 39, 51, 88,
111, 209, 214, 261, 265, 267,
270–88, 291–96, 303, 305
main clause 50, 121, 225, 235, 250,
268, 270, 281–86, 291, 298, 299,
302, 334
purpose clause 185, 186, 225–27,
299
coindexation 276, 277
comment 300
complement 100–103, 141–49
complement rule 95
complementary distribution 10, 34, 39,
40, 42, 45–47, 52, 146, 151, 154,
155, 182, 233, 249, 250, 272, 298,
300, 302, 304, 332, 333, 339
complementiser 11, 14, 18, 19, 39, 41,
47–49, 55, 85, 96, 122, 234, 235,
261, 265–70, 272, 274, 279–85,
291–93, 297–303, 311–16, 318,
326, 332, 338
complementiser phrase (CP) 73, 265–
305, 311–18, 319, 321, 326, 333
constituency test 86, 87, 91
constituent 71, 72, 83, 84, 87, 89–91,
95, 96, 97, 105, 110, 112, 115, 205,
265, 266, 290, 315
control 225, 226, 227, 322–36, 341
object control 226, 336
subject control 226, 227, 336
coordination 86, 87–90, 205, 266, 267,
283, 289, 290
coreference 324, 335
covert 270, 279, 282, 293
CP see Complementiser Phrase
Burzio, Luigi 178
Burzio'
s Generalisation 178, 185, 189,
255
C.
canonical
structural
realisation
principles 269
canonical subject position 151
Case 123, 257, 326
abstract Case 41, 76, 80, 81, 120–
24, 152–55, 159, 174, 177, 182–
90, 194, 197, 202–204, 210–14,
219, 221, 234, 237, 254–59, 265,
313–18, 322, 327–33, 337–39
accusative Case 41, 50, 76, 81, 120–
23, 152, 159, 171, 174, 178, 182–
86, 189, 194, 204, 212, 237, 255,
256, 258, 259, 312–18
Case position 121–23, 152, 159,
171, 182, 189, 202, 212–14, 224,
255, 257, 273, 326–28, 332, 333
morphological Case 122, 123
nominative Case 41, 50, 76, 120–
23, 171, 174, 181–84, 204, 237,
258, 259, 312, 317, 326, 327
partitive Case 184, 186
Case assigner 160, 221, 258, 313–17
Case avoidance principle 213
Case Filter 123, 124, 159, 177, 213,
254, 257, 273, 277, 317, 326, 327,
331, 333
Case Theory 120–24
category variable 95
chain 128
foot of a chain 128
head of a chain 128
Chinese 4
Choctaw 245
Chomsky, Noam 12, 115, 215, 286,
332, 474
clause 39–42, 48–51, 54, 55, 68, 70,
77, 79, 81, 85–89, 97–100, 107,
111, 121, 128–31, 165, 171, 174,
175, 183, 185, 196, 204, 205, 210–
13, 216, 219, 220, 224, 225, 228,
457
Index
D.
ECM see Exceptional Case Marking
E-language 2, 64, 65, 100
endocentric structure 97–100, 236
ergative language 176
event structure 165–68, 171–79, 192–
94, 199, 201, 211, 213, 265
Exceptional Case-marking (ECM) 316
existential there-construction 169, 171,
182–86, 214
exocentric structure 98, 100, 234, 236
extended projection 191–92, 196, 197
Extended Projection Principle 322,
327, 330
extraction site 124, 126, 127, 130
extraposition 112
dative alternate see dative construction
dative construction 82, 201, 202
daughter 71, 74, 107, 110
Deep-structure 111–14, 124–27, 130,
159, 171, 179, 183, 213, 214, 234,
240, 255, 277, 322, 325, 326, 327
defining relative clause see restrictive
relative clause
definiteness 44, 45, 145, 148
DegP 73
derived noun 27, 28, 337
determiner 11, 12, 14, 43–47, 53, 54,
66, 67, 72–74, 83, 92, 95, 96, 103–
106, 141–49, 151, 153–61, 237,
238, 268, 273, 274, 289, 337–40
central determiner 45, 156
definite determiner 44, 45, 149, 150,
151
indefinite determiner 44, 149, 150,
151
post-determiner 45, 54, 156, 157,
158
pre-determiner 156, 158–61
determiner phrase (DP) 73, 74, 79, 81,
83, 84, 85, 86, 88, 89, 91, 95, 96,
104, 113, 121–24, 141–61, 168,
169, 184–86, 201, 204, 205, 208,
210–14, 224, 237, 254, 269, 271,
274, 277, 288, 311, 320–39
distribution 8–10, 13, 14, 22, 27, 34,
40, 48, 66, 67, 72, 73, 83–85, 87,
90, 92, 98, 106, 115, 116, 120, 124,
141, 143, 155, 168, 220, 223, 236,
271, 273, 274, 288, 290, 299, 302,
304, 331–34, 337
do-insertion see do-support
do-support 216, 217, 242–46, 252, 286
double object construction 82, 201,
202, 210, 214
Doubly Filled COMP Filter 285
DP see Determiner Phrase
DP-movement 273
F.
[±F] 12, 14, 15, 18, 19, 25, 30, 33, 36,
38, 39, 40, 47, 48, 49, 51, 52, 54,
101, 237, 268, 301, 321
finite clause 41, 42, 50, 75–77, 120–
22, 131, 182, 209, 219, 235–38,
258, 268, 273, 293, 312, 322, 325–
27, 331
finiteness 50, 51, 314
Finnish 4, 245, 303
focus 300–303
focus fronting 299–03, 305
force 19, 51, 165, 216, 265, 267, 270,
272, 274, 279
French 4
functional category 11, 12, 14, 15, 19,
39, 40–51, 150, 161, 301
G.
GB see Government and Binding
Theory
general ordering requirements 288
generative grammar 3, 10, 25, 65, 188
genitive Case 121, 151, 154
German 4, 199
gerund 311, 336–41, 341
government 259, 314–17, 333, 336
Government and Binding Theory (GB) 1
grammar 1–3, 8, 9, 64, 65, 74, 81, 100–
103, 111, 113, 120, 186, 209, 235
E.
echo question 275
458
Index
H.
language 1–5, 8, 10, 21, 63–65, 88, 90,
95–100, 113, 152, 176, 179, 196,
199, 236, 245, 251, 279, 284, 335
Lasnik, Howard 286, 332
lexical entry 6, 8, 16–19, 23–25, 28,
30, 37, 40, 42, 43, 47, 49, 51–54,
81, 102, 104, 116, 118, 237
lexicon 4–5, 8, 9, 33, 43, 101, 102,
110, 120, 125
light verb 172–81, 182, 184–204, 207,
210–12, 215, 217–19, 221, 222,
226, 233–35, 239, 244, 246–49,
255–57, 259, 265, 313–18, 326,
328, 329, 332, 337–40
abstract light verb 178, 185, 191,
192, 194, 195, 213
multiple light verb 194–97, 203
linguistics 1–3, 12
Locality Restriction on Theta-role
Assignment 117, 120
Locality Restrictions on movement
130–32, 330
locative inversion 169, 175, 176
Haegeman, Liliane 132, 320
head 100–103, 108–10, 141–49
Head Movement Constraint (HMC)
243, 244, 278, 330
heavy DP shift 224
HMC see Head Movement Constraint
Hungarian 4, 21, 41, 76, 152, 180,
181, 251, 291
I.
idiosyncratic 102, 118, 209
I-language 2, 4, 5, 65, 100
immediate constituent 71, 72, 74, 75,
95, 96, 105
imperative 99, 100, 127, 148
infinitive 236, 311
inflection 11, 19, 20, 31, 32, 35, 38,
40–43, 46, 49, 52, 180, 205, 218,
223–24, 233–38, 257–61, 268, 277–
79, 301, 312, 313, 317, 321, 326,
327, 329
inflectional comparison 49
inflectional phrase (IP) 73, 233–61,
265–74, 277, 284, 286, 287, 294,
297–02, 305, 314–18, 319–21, 326–
28, 333, 338
IP see Inflectional Phrase
irregular 19, 22, 26, 31, 33, 34, 167,
215, 233, 235, 251
isomorphism 166, 177–79, 192, 193,
201, 213
I-to-C movement 277, 278, 287
M.
Maltese 4
maximal projection 97, 101
mood 341
morpheme 7, 8, 20, 22, 31–33, 43, 49,
75, 151–55, 181, 183, 190, 194,
215–19, 233, 235, 238–42, 245–51,
265, 274, 278, 279, 303, 316, 317,
327, 329, 336, 340, 341
aspectual morpheme 218–20, 222,
233, 241, 242, 244, 246–48, 265,
326, 336, 340, 341
bound morpheme 181, 187, 190,
195, 204, 214, 240, 241, 245–52,
278–82, 326, 327
derivational morpheme 32, 33, 35,
43
free morpheme 238, 248, 252
inflectional morpheme 33, 43, 217,
246
productive morpheme 32–34
zero inflectional morpheme 249, 251
J.
Jackendoff, Raymond 223
Japanese 4, 245, 279
Jesperson, Otto 172
K.
Korean 303
L.
landing site 124, 126–28, 130, 257,
258, 302, 330
459
Index
O.
morphology 31, 33, 43, 75, 76, 217
mother 71, 74, 107
Move 113, 111–14
movement 80–82, 87–90, 110–32,
148, 153, 166, 169, 171, 175, 179,
181, 184, 202–204, 207, 208, 211–
14, 221–24, 233, 238, 240, 243,
247, 248, 273, 276–80, 286, 295,
297–304, 305, 316, 318, 325–31
A movement 277
A'movement 277
multiple wh-question 276
object 79–81, 82, 84, 87–91, 100,
110–13, 116, 117, 119, 121, 125–
28, 130, 159, 160, 170, 176–78,
184–94, 198, 201, 204, 206, 207,
209, 210, 213, 218, 221, 224, 225,
227, 236, 255, 256, 258, 259, 284,
286, 294, 305, 316, 318, 322, 324,
325, 328, 333, 335, 336
cognate object 170, 171, 198, 199,
214, 256
direct object 82, 201, 204
indirect object 79–81, 201, 202, 204
object position 80, 88, 111, 112,
116, 117, 121, 122, 126–28, 188,
273, 325, 327, 331
prepositional object 80
of-insertion 160
Old English 284
one-place predicate 16, 17, 22, 24, 116
operator 275, 276, 277, 283, 284, 285,
294, 295, 305
overt 75, 122, 182, 196, 199, 217, 241,
266, 269, 270, 279, 281, 282, 285,
286, 293, 318, 323, 324, 331–33
N.
[±N] 12–15, 19, 25, 28, 30, 33, 36,
38–40, 47–55, 101, 237, 268, 301,
321
negative fronting 301–4, 305
node 71, 72, 108, 110, 251, 315
non-defining relative clause see nonrestrictive relative clause
non-finite clause 41, 42, 50, 76, 77,
121–23, 131, 209, 225, 235–37,
258, 266, 269, 270, 283, 293, 305,
311–41
non-referential 294, 295
noun 6, 11, 25–30, 141–49
compound noun 27, 108, 109, 129,
206
count noun 26, 45, 141
deverbal noun 27, 28, 172, 191, 198
mass noun 26, 45, 150
measure noun 53, 160, 161
plural noun 25–27, 143, 149
proper noun 26, 27, 66, 141, 147,
149
singular noun 25, 27, 143
noun phrase (NP) 73, 85, 86, 89, 103,
106–108, 141–51, 155, 157, 158,
161, 237, 268, 288–96, 294, 321,
337–39
NP-movement see DP-movement
Null Case 332, 333, 340
number 20, 26, 44, 45, 76, 143, 150,
151, 238, 251, 274
P.
particle 204–208, 279, 280
partitive construction 26
passive structure 81, 186–88
periphrastic comparison of adjectives
32
phonologically empty 99, 100, 127,
147, 154, 155, 158, 266, 269, 323,
325, 331
phonology 8, 23, 127, 153, 181, 285,
341
phrasal category 92
phrasal verb 204–9, 214, see also
verb–particle construction
phrase 65–74, 90–93, 95–113, 142–45
pied-piping 293
pleonastic subject see expletive subject
PP see Preposition Phrase
pragmatics 336
460
Index
predicate 15–18, 19, 22, 25, 29, 30, 38,
65, 77, 86, 103, 104, 116–19, 130,
165, 179, 185, 186, 188, 200, 234,
282, 319–21, 324, 330, 334
preposing 114, 128, 129
preposition 11, 13, 14, 18, 23, 25, 28,
35–37, 38–40, 49, 50, 53–55, 67,
73, 74, 76, 80, 81, 84, 85, 90, 95,
98, 102, 103, 121, 122, 142, 143,
159, 160, 171, 174, 202–208, 213,
271, 273, 293, 331, 337, 338, 339
preposition phrase (PP) 73, 74, 81–85,
88–92, 95, 97, 98, 103, 110, 112,
114, 128, 129, 142, 155, 160, 168–
170, 200–12, 223–24, 269, 271,
293, 319–21
preposition stranding 293
prepositional complementiser 50, 122
prepositional verb 24
Projection Principle 125, 126, 127,
130, 179, 322
pronominal 46, 84–86, 121, 122, 155,
238, 333, 334, 335
pronoun 14, 36, 41, 46, 47, 51, 71, 76,
77, 81–86, 92, 99, 111, 120–23,
127, 128, 141, 144, 146–49, 152,
154, 155, 183, 266, 273, 283, 291,
294, 295, 318, 324, 325, 331, 333,
334, 335, 336
reflexive pronoun 99, 118, 119, 148,
225, 295
relative clause 107, 108, 288–96, 305
headless relative 292
non-restrictive relative clause 289,
290
restrictive relative clause 289, 290
that-relative 292, 293, 294
wh-relative 291, 292, 293
Relativized Minimality 330
rewrite rule 74, 95–97, 105
Rizzi, Luigi 330
Russian 4
S.
semantics 7, 17, 23–33, 40, 53, 76–78,
99, 100, 104, 109, 111, 118, 119,
127, 130, 141–43, 148, 155, 159,
160, 165, 167, 168, 172, 173, 179,
183, 184, 191, 198, 206, 214–18,
227, 233, 235, 265, 270–72, 275–
77, 288, 289, 295, 304, 322, 323,
331, 341
sister node 71, 110, 221, 259
small clause 311–21, 341
Spanish 4
specificity 44
specifier position 96, 97, 100–103,
105–107, 110, 111, 113, 115, 117,
118, 141–46, 151–56, 158, 168,
171, 173, 177, 178, 184, 185, 187,
190–94, 197, 198, 200, 202, 206,
208–12, 223–26, 234–39, 254–59,
260, 265, 271–76, 284–87, 292,
295, 297–303, 312–17, 320, 325–
27, 337, 339
specifier rule 96, 105
Stowell, Tim 212, 221, 319, 321
Structure Preservation Principle 113,
124, 125, 130
subcategorisation frame 23, 24, 25, 28,
37, 38, 43, 46, 52, 77, 102–104,
110, 267, 268, 317, 320, 321
subcategory 10, 22, 25, 27, 28, 150,
168, 186
subject 74–79, 192–94, 286–88
expletive subject 77, 78, 183–86,
322, 323, 324, 327–29
Q.
quantificational operator 295
quantifier 45, 53, 156, 160, 224, 275,
276, 305
R.
Radford, Andrew 36, 132, 221
raising 130, 131, 183, 322–36, 341
raising verb 183, 328, 330
recoverable 295
recursive rule 65, 105, 107, 108, 109
referential 127, 185, 294, 295, 323–25,
331, 333–36
regular 8, 11, 19, 22, 26, 28, 43, 68
461
Index
patient 16, 23, 29, 65, 78, 116, 117,
186, 187, 189
theme 16, 30, 78, 82, 97, 104, 110,
118, 141, 165, 168–78, 182–87,
190, 193–206, 210, 219, 221,
222, 226, 227, 269
Theta Theory 115–20, 124, 165
theta-grid 16, 18, 19, 23, 25, 40, 43,
46, 53
theta-marking 258
three-place predicate 16, 17, 23
to-infinitive 238, 251
topic 44, 87, 90, 112, 114, 209, 297,
298, 299, 300, 302, 305
topicalisation 87, 89, 112, 213, 297–
99, 301, 304, 305
trace 120–24, 148, 284, 292, 325, 330
Travis, Lisa 243
tree diagram 71, 72, 74, 92, 315
two-place predicate 16, 17, 23, 116
missing subject 100, 190, 225, 227,
238, 269, 283, 322–25, 331
PRO 325, 331–36, 340
subject position 77–80, 112, 113,
116, 121–31, 143, 169, 170, 174,
177, 183, 184, 189, 190, 197,
204, 213, 214, 219, 220, 234,
256, 257, 273, 316–32, 340
subject movement 171, 234, 255, 257,
287, 321, 330
subject-auxiliary inversion 112, 271
substitution 68, 83–87, 129, 276
Surface-structure 124–127, 159, 179,
214, 223, 234, 239, 240, 322
Surfice-structure 111–14
Swahili 4
syntax 8, 168, 261
T.
tense 7, 8, 10, 19–22, 33, 37, 41, 43,
50, 52, 75, 121, 165, 167, 180, 181,
187, 216–20, 233, 235, 238, 240,
242, 244, 246–54, 255, 258, 260,
265, 277, 278, 287, 288, 311, 326,
327, 336, 340
thematic category 11–40, 43, 161
thematic hierarchy 196, 197
thematic role see theta role
there-construction see existential
there-construction
Theta Criterion 120, 128, 323
theta role 16, 17, 19, 23, 30, 78, 82,
104, 106, 116–20, 123, 126, 128,
165, 168, 171, 174, 177–79, 183,
185, 187–90, 192, 194, 196, 197,
200, 210, 219, 237, 239, 248, 255,
256, 258, 313–17, 323–29
agent 16, 17, 22, 23, 29, 30, 55, 65,
78, 116, 169, 171, 173, 174, 177,
178, 180–82, 185–94, 196, 197,
200, 201, 217, 222, 226, 227,
239, 256, 316, 339
experiencer 16, 29, 30, 63, 78, 79,
110, 186, 187, 192–94, 196, 197,
222, 313, 316, 317
U.
underspecification 15, 51–56
Uniform
Theta-role
Assignment
Hypothesis (UTAH) 117, 118, 120,
165, 171, 174, 177, 178, 188, 192,
194, 197, 199, 202, 211, 213
unpronounced see phonologically
empty
Urdu 196, 218
V.
[±V] 12–15, 19, 25, 30, 33, 36, 38–40,
47–49, 52, 54, 55, 101, 237, 268,
301, 321
verb 11, 19–25, 168–214
aspectual auxiliary verb 40, 52,
214–20, 234, 243, 246, 248, 277
complex transitive verb 25
ditransitive verb 24
dummy auxiliary 215–18, 219, 240,
242, 244, 253, 278, 286, 287
ergative verb 175–86, 188, 191
exceptional verb 270, 315, 316, 318,
326, 328, 329, 332
finite verb form 42, 75, 76, 235, 253
462
Index
intransitive verb 24, 34, 39, 46, 66,
77, 85, 107, 119, 126, 141, 168,
170, 176, 182, 186, 197–99, 255
lexical verb 20
modal auxiliary verb 11, 12, 18, 19,
40, 41, 42, 43, 50, 129, 214, 220,
233, 235, 238, 249, 250, 258, 265
non-finite verb form 235, 341
transitive verb 24, 25, 34, 35, 66,
81, 110, 125, 126, 159, 171, 176,
177, 182, 186–88, 209, 210, 255
unaccusative verb 168–72, 173–78,
181–86, 191, 197–200, 222, 325
verb phrase (VP) 73–75, 79, 83–92,
95–100, 104, 114, 161, 165–228,
233–37, 239, 244, 247–49, 252,
254, 257, 259, 261, 265, 268, 288,
297, 314, 315, 316, 319, 321, 322,
325, 328, 337, 338
voice
active voice 55, 117, 188, 190, 191
passive voice 112
voiceless sound 8
vP 173, 175, 214, 222, 228, 233–37,
241, 244, 248, 252–54, 268, 317,
321, 338, 340
VP see Verb Phrase
VP-Internal Subject Hypothesis 174,
247
W.
Webelhuth, Gert 132
wh-element 88, 90, 271, 272–77, 280,
282–305
whether 283, 284
wh-movement 90, 273–86, 295, 298,
301, 302, 305
wh-question 271, 272, 275, 284, 286,
300
word category 4–56, 73, 84, 91, 92,
95–98, 100, 102, 104, 105, 110,
115, 127, 145, 148, 158, 161, 179,
223, 233, 249, 269, 301, 303, 320,
337
X.
X-bar theory 95–110, 120, 130, 151,
165, 221, 236, 288, 320
Y.
yes-no question 112, 271, 272, 278,
279, 283, 284, 294, 295
Yupik 176
Z.
zero level projection 97
zero relative 292, 293, 294
.
-role see theta role
463
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