Structure-dependence turns out to be a very important
We linked it to two ideas
these correspond to the two things Carnie
talks about at the outset of Chapter two.
We take up phrasehood first.
- Syntactic categories
- Syntactic structure (phrases)
The boy must seem incredibly stupid to that girl.
[The boy] must [seem [incredibly stupid] [ to [that girl]]].
Everybody find this absolutely uncontroversial?
Sometimes in traditional grammar there's notion of a verb group.
The above proposal misses this completely. In
general there will be a number of plausible candidates
intuitions won't decide among. And as you
will see, linguists will disagree.
In general, we will need arguments
for phrasehood. Intuitions won't do.
So phrasehood is the first component of what Carnie means
by structure in structure dependence. The other component
We have the same phrases as before exactly but
now they are labeled with labels like NP, M,
VP, AP, PP. As an alternative and completely
equivalent representation of the tree we have the labeled
bracketing in (5)
[S [NP [D the] [N boy] ] [T must ] [VP [V seem ][AP [Adv incredibly ] [Adj stupid ] ] [PP [P to ] [NP [D that ] [N girl ] ] ] ]]
In fact this is exactly the labeled bracketing that was used to generate the above
tree in the tree-drawing
The trees we'll be using then embody two notions,
constituency (phrasehood) and categoriality.
There's a third notion which isn't really made explicit
in Chapter 2 but which will become important later.
Headedness. Each of the phrases has a word that it
is its head. We'll argue for this in detail
later but it's the head of the phrase that determines
many of its properties. For instance,
The man with two Cadillacs has man as its
Here is some evidence:
For NPs, the head determines its number agreement properties
and what kind of entity the NP as a whole
describes. The man with two Cadillacs
has man as its head
and refers to a man, not a Cadillac.
- The man with two Cadillacs is over there. [singular agreement with man OK]
- * The man with two Cadillacs are over there. [singular agreement with Cadillacs not OK]
- * The men with a Cadillac is over there. [singular agreement with Cadillac not OK]
- The men with a Cadillac are over there. [plural agreement with men OK]
So we move on to arguments for kind of structure we're assuming.
Determining Parts of Speech
- Noun: table, destruction, family, theory ...
- Adjective: green, utter, delicious, syntactic
- Adverb: cleverly, very, quite
- Verb: walk, sleep, criticize...
- Modal: may, could, can, will...
- Preposition: of, about, on, on top of, with, to ...
- Determiner: the, every, few, many, more, seven, both, only,
Word-level phonological evidence for lexical categories:
Phonology is sensitive to category[p. 56, (8)-(10)]
This argument needs to be adjusted slightly
for American speakers.
Semantics is sensitive to category.
Ambiguity of phrases:
Notice headededness is changing as well as category.
- mistrust sores
- Be suspicious of wounds.
Morphology is sensitive to category. Verb inflection
These inflections go on verbs, not adjectives,
not nouns. Criticisms?
Modals do inflect for tense:
- can, could
- shall, should
- may, might
Modals don't inflect completely like verbs.
Some modals lack past tense forms:
What do we SAY here when we mean the past tense form
Modals never have an ing form or participle form, never have an
agreeing form inflected in -s.
Adjectives and adverbs take -er. (16),(17), p. 59.
Nouns take plural -s.
Prepositions take NO inflection. [some languages
DO have inflecting prepositions.]
Determiners have no single defining morphological
characteristic. Hmmm. Worry about this.
Why no consistent inflection? Do any determiners take any inflection at
all? Well maybe.
What about my, his, her? Maybe these are possessive forms?
If so, they would be possessive forms of I, he, she.
But these are not determiners, so they're not what we're looking for now,
morphological processes that apply to determiners. And
in the end, we're not even going to be sure that
this process produces determiners, because
we're going to have some questions about whether possessives should be
thought of as determiners.
Here's an example to think about.
More is sometimes treated as the
comparative of many. This is too complicated to
argue for now, but the intuition is on the
basis of analogous pairs like these:
- John bought an cheap book.
- John bought a cheaper book (than Mary).
- The lecture attracted many students.
- The lecture attracted more students (than teachers).
In any case this lack of morphology for determiners seems
to be a peculiarity of English. In many
languages, detrminers inflect quite freely for
number and gender. Spanish, for example. Examples?
All of this was INFLECTIONAL morphology. There is
another kind of morphology called DERIVATIONAL.
What is the difference between derivational and inflectional
morphology? Some diagnostics for inflectional affixes
- Attach outside of derivational affixes
try + -al => trial
try + -al + -s => trials
try + -s + -al => * triesal
- Productive over the entire category; doesn't change category
- Limited set of abstract semantic concepts: tense,
number, mood, comparative...
- Meaning change compositional and predictable. This is why
the dictionary conventions tend to
include all inflectional forms within the same
dictionary entry. Inflectional forms can be thought of
as being different form of same word. We can't always trust dictionary
entries because they include a lot of Miss Grundy
grammar (prescriptive grammar), but in this case they
seem to correspond to a deep linguistic fact.
We can also find derivational morphological evidence.
-ly example from text
adj + ly => adv
-ness example from lecture 1
adj + ness => noun
Summarizing the evidence thus far:
We've argued for lexical categories on the basis
of phonological, semantic, and morphological evidence.
The morphological evidence was of two kinds, derivational
At the same times we've been developing a set of
diagnostics, or tests, for each category
Thus, taking the affix -ness AND -ly is a good
test for adjectivehood.
A very important kind of evidence for
categories is distributional evidence.
________ can be a pain in the neck
Anger/*angry/*angrily can be a pain in the neck
For a distributional argument for category X we need a context
in which only things of category X can occur.
For example, is this a good distributional
context context for argueing for adjectives?
Heights/*off can be a pain in the neck
John thought of something very ____.
No, adverbs go here too. For adjectives We need something more like:
John became very ____.
For adverbs how about:
John became very neat/*neatness/*scrub/*off.
John worded the letter ______.
John worded the letter carefully/*careful/*care.
John put the book ____ the table.
John put the book on/under/on top/*top the table.
John put the book right ____ the table.
John put the book right on/under/on top/*top the table.
Phrases: Argueing for constituency
Thus far structural evidence for parts
of speech. Moving on to phrases.
Remember there are two kinds of information in representations
of structure (trees), phrasal information, what words
make meaningful units, and category information, what
the categories of phrases are. So we'll be looking for
evidence of both kinds, evidence that the things we
hypothesize to be phrases are actual linguistic units,
and evidence that they have the categories we say they have.
We're going to call phrases constituents, because we generally
consider them in a syntactic context, so they are
constituents of the sentences they occur in.
Morphological evidence. (parallels the word-level morphological argument).
The possessive affix: 's.
Observation 1: The possessive affix attaches at end of entire phrase, not
onto the head.
This is in contrast to what we saw before, inflectional and
derivational morphemes attaching onto words. What seems to be going
on is that the affix has a particular structurally defined position it
goes on to. This so different from other affixes that people have
argued that this should be treated as a different kind of thing
altogether. Sometimes the English
possessive is called a clitic. Rather than attaching to particualr
kinds of words like other affixes, clitics
attach to phrases or have structurally
defined positions. There's a discussion of a Serbo-Croatian
clitic near the end of Chapter 1.
Observation 2: Possessive only attaches to NPs
- The king of france's haircut
- * The king's of france haircut
* a very handsome's crown (Adj)
We have something that attaches to phrases of a specific category,
namely, NP, so we have morphological evidence for phrase-level
categories, just as we had morphological evidence for word-level
categories. At the same time time, we have evidence for
the phrase-boundary, because the possessive affix pays attention to
where the noun phrase ends.
Semantic evidence (parallels the word-level semantic argument)
Mary looked very hard (Adj and Adv reading).
This sentence is ambiguous. It has two readings.
Ambiguities are very important in syntactic argumentation.
Just as there different sources for acceptability so there are
different sources for ambiguity. An ambiguity
means has a sentence two or more ways of being
interpreted. But the rules of the language
are suppose to account for meanings. Where
does that difference comes from.
We assume that the rules can provide
meaning differences in two ways. Different words are
chosen. Or different structures:
Adj reading: Mary looked merciless.
Adv reading: Mary put a lot of effort into her looking.
Their flight from Egypt was remarkable.
These two examples represent different
kinds of ambiguity.
We saw the Eiffel Tower flying to Paris.
The first ambiguity hinges on the meaning of the
word flight. This
is a lexical ambiguity.
The second case is different.
No word changes meanings between
the two readings. It's a question
of what the relationships among the lexical meanings are.
This is a syntactic or structual
ambiguity. In one case flying to Paris
modifies we (we are doing the flying),
in the other (slightly silly) reading,
it modifies the Eiffel Tower (the Eiffel
tower is doing the flying). [The question
of how we would reprsent this difference in trees
is a complicated one we set aside for now).
Next we look at semantic evidence based
on a structural ambiguity.
The president could not ratify the treaty.
- not-possible reading: It is not possible for the
president to ratify the treaty.
Even if he wanted to, the president could not ratify
the treaty, because he doesn't have the authority to do so.
- possible-not reading: It is possible for the president
not to ratify the treaty.
If he really wanted to come out strong against
disarmament, the president could not ratify the treaty.
By not ratifying it, he would make his position clear.
The structures we will assume:
- not-possible reading: [The president] [could not] [ratify the treaty].
- possible-not reading: I[The president] [could] [not ratify the treaty].
VP = not ratify the treaty
Now assume an adverb goes before the VP constituent. Then these
two different structures would predict different adverb placements.
And this works. (1) has only the not-possible reading;
(2) has only the possible-not reading.
- [The president] [could not] simply [ratify the treaty].
- [The president] [could] simply [not ratify the treaty].
Form of argument:
- A structural distinction posited which accounts
for one phenomenon. (the ambiguity)
- The same structural difference is independently
motivated. That is, the account in (1) is
not ad hoc. Other phenomena are accounted for by the
same structural distinction.
Further independent evidence:
These syntactic variations on the first sentence are called
(1) has only the not-possible reading;
(2) has only the possible-not reading.
- What the president could not do is ratify the treaty.
- What the president could do is not ratify the treaty.
- [The president] [couldn't] [ratify the treaty].
- * [The president] [could] [n't ratify the treaty].
Distributional Evidence for Phrases
Call this second sentence a case of pre-posing.
- I can't stand your elder sister.
- Your elder sister, I can't stand.
Lots of elements prepose:
NP: This kind of behavior, I simply will not tolerate.
VP: I went to the new James Bond film, and very exciting it was.
ADVP: Very shortly, he'll be leaving for Paris.
PP: Down the hill John ran, as fast as he could.
VP: Give in to blackmail I never will.
Some things do not.
Hypothesis: only a whole phrase (and not just PART of
a phrase)can be preposed.
- *Your elder, I can't stand sister.
- *Elder sister, I can't stand your.
- *Sister, I can't stand your elder.
- *Your, I can't stand elder sister.
Things which are not constituents do not prepose
Jean rang up her mother.
Jean stood up her date.
Jean looked up his phone number.
* Up her mother Jean rang.
* Up her date Jean stood.
* Up his phone number Jean looked.
Why do we say that strings like
up her mother in these sentences are
One: word order flexibility of up
Jean rang her mother up.
John ran up the hill.
*John ran the hill up.
Two: When the particle precedes
the NP, the particle and verb
must be adjacent, in contrast
to prepositions and verbs:
* Jean rang right up her mother.
This suggests the verb and particle form a constituent
in these phrasal verbs. If the verb and particle form
a constituent, then the particle and NP do not.
Is the argument clear here?
John ran right up the hill.
Jean reluctantly rang up her mother.
*Jean rang reluctantly up her mother.
Jean ran reluctantly up the hill.
[-PV ring up]-PV her mother
The particle can't belong to BOTH constituents.
ring [-PP up her mother]-PP
*[-PV ring [-PP up]-PV her mother]-PP
Only phrasal constituents (i.e., whole phrases)
can undergo preposing.
He explained to her all the terrible problems he had encountered.
* He explained all the to her terrible problems he had encountered.
Only phrasal constituents (i.e., whole phrases)
can undergo preposing or postposing (movement).
Sentence fragments must be phrasal constituents:
Who was he talking to?
To his elder sister.
His elder sister.
Who are you ringing up?
* Up my sister.
We started out looking for arguments for
phrasal constituents but really
Two notions emerging as important:
Complete phrases ( a special sublass of constituents)
An argument for categoriality. The other kind
of information our trees is category. To motivate
syntactic category as part of our notion
of structure we need some linguistic phenomena
that are sensitive to
Two kinds of adverbs:
- Sentence adverbs: certainly, fortunately,
Sentence adverbs attach to S
- VP adverbs: carefully, completely, quickly,
S positions: The team * can * rely on my support *.
VP positions: The team can * rely * on my support *.
Why is this not an S position?
The team can rely * on my support.
Why is this not a VP position?
The team * can rely on my support
Why are these positions both?
The team can * rely on my support *
Can you articulate a property that these
positions share that makes them ambiguous?
Extend this. Why not:
*Jean rang up her reluctantly mother.
*Jean rang reluctantly up her mother.
More arguments for constituency
Jean climbed down the firescape or down the ivy.
* Jean rang up her mother and up her sister.
- Shared constituent coordination (Right Node Raising)
John walked and Mary ran up the hill.
John walked up the hill and Mary ran up the hill.
* Mary rang and Jean picked up Mary's sister.
Coordination is possible only between contituents.
Shared Constituent Constraint:
Shared constituent coordination is possible
only when the shared phrase is a possible phrasal
constituent of both clauses.
Problems with Coordination. As we noted at the beginning
of the chapter, not all the diagnostics we come up
with are going to converge on the same result.
Here's a case in point:
The professor gave her favorite student a book on syntax and her nephew a surfboard.
What is being coordinated here? Do these strings
form a constituent? What do the other tests say?
? Her nephew a surfboard the professor gave.
In general coordination is a less reliable test.
The man who wrote the book on Transformational
Grammar was greeted at Kennedy Airport today by massive
crowds, cheers, and fainting. He is universally adored.
He refers to the same individual as the entire Noun
The man who wrote the book on Transformational
We call this the antecedent of the pronoun..
Pronoun takes entire NP as antecedent and syntactically behaves
like entire NP.
It's really a pro-NP not a pro-noun.
* The he who wrote the book on Transformational
Grammar was greeted at Kennedy Airport today by cheers
Pro-VP (so, as):
Mary will never agree to secession, as I've told you repeatedly.
It now appears that Mary might agree to secession, and
so might Jean.
Many consider John extremely rude, but I've never found him so.,
Pro PP (there):
Mary wants to go to Florence.
Gina already lives there,
But what about this?
Mary loves Florence,
but she lives there anyway.
Refined hypothesis: The pronominal form there has
the distribution of a PP, but it's antecedent
can be anything that denotes a place,
either a PP or an NP.
General pronominalization Claim:
An adequate description of pronominalization
needs to refer to both constituents and categories.
See examples (100) and (101) in the text, pp. 82,83.
John won't put the vodka into the drink but his brother will.
Another process that takes all of a phrase, nbot part of it,
limited in this case to VPs. We have a diagnostic for
Word versus phrases
Sentences of the following kind:
We argue now that the italicized words are phrases
as well as being words. Cars is an NP.
Useful is an AdjP. So
there are single-word phrases.
The first idea is that all the processes that we claimed
applied to FULL phrases apply to these single-word
Preposing: Cars, most Londoners can't stand.
Pronominalization: Jane is rude, as is her sister.
Conjunction: Sara is intolerant and very rude.
Shared constituent coordination: John truly loves and Mary truly detests
VP ellipsis: John can't ski, but Mary can.
We noted that conjunction is a somewhat unreliable test.
But conjunction does seem to require parallelism.
That is, the things conjoined need to be alike.
Notice that in our a example a phrase is coordinated
with a single word intolerant. Examples illustrating
the need for like things in coordination:
John buys very new cars and very old paintings.
*John buys very new cars and very.
*John buys very new cars and old.
John buys cars and very old paintings.
The second idea is that wherever we have full phrases,
these one-word strings can occur too.
John is keen on very fast cars.
Thus these one-word strings have the same distribution
In other words, these one-word strings are passing the distributional
test for phrasehood.
John is keen on cars.
Cars can be extremely useful.
Cars can be useful.