Structure-dependence is the theme of our course.
We have been arguing for it in terms of the trees
we draw for sentences, which capture
information of two kinds:
- Syntactic categories
- Syntactic structure (phrases)
The boy must seem incredibly stupid to that girl.
- [The boy] must [seem [incredibly stupid] [ to [that girl]]].
The trees we'll be using then embody two notions,
constituency (phrasehood) and categoriality.
Radford doesn't call these structures trees.
He calls them phrase-markers. The term
tree is actually more
popular among linguists and computer scientists
alike. But is isn't more popular
with one very important guy, Noam
Chomsky. For some reason
never made particularly clear to me,
Noam Chomsky never talks about trees.
He always talks about phrase markers.
Radford follows Chomsky here.
Defining basic Terms
graph, node, root node:
Whether you say tree or phrase-marker,
the structure can be formally thought of as a graph,
a mathematical term that's
particularly important in computer science.
A graph is just any structure with points
and lines between them, and a tree
is just a special kind of graph with a fussier definition.
The points in a graph are also called
nodes and that is the term linguists use
for the points in a phrase markers or a
tree. Some of the nodes in
tree (1) on p. 110 are the S-node (called
the root node, because it's the top),
the VP node, the NP node and the P node.
immediately dominates, dominates, exhaustively dominates, mother,
daughter, sister, precedes, immediately precedes
immediately dominates: In tree (1) on the left, TP immediately
dominates NP1, T, and VP. NP immediate dominates D, V1
and N. VP immediately
dominates V3 and NP2.
mother, daughter, sister: used to describe nodes in an immediate
dominance relation. A node M is the mother of a node D, if and
only if M immediately dominates D. In the same situation we say D is a
daughter of M. That is, a node D is the daughter of a
node M if and only if M immediately dominates D. Two nodes
that have the same mother are sisters. In tree
(1), NP1 is the mother of D, V1
and N2, and
and N2 are the daughters of NP1.
NP1 is NOT the mother of
V2 because NP1 does not immediately
dominate V2. In fact,
NP1 is what you might call the grandmother
of V2 (the mother of its mother).
exhaustively dominates: A node M exhaustively
dominates a set of nodes D1 through Dn if and only if
M is the mother of each D' and there are no other nodes
M is the mother of. In other words, the set
of nodes a mother dominates must include all her daughters.
In tree tree (1) on the left, TP does not exhaustively dominate
NP and VP. It exhaustively dominates NP, T, and VP.
dominates: Dominates is defined as follows:
- A node A dominates a node B if A immediately dominates B
- A node A dominates a node B if there is a node C such
C dominates B and A dominates C.
So this brings inheritance in. A dominates B not just when
A is the mother of B, but also when it's the grandmother,
or the great-great grandmother, or the great-great-great grandmother,
and so on. In tree tree (1) on the left, TP dominates NP, T, and VP
(because it immediately dominates them), but it also dominates
D, N1, V1, V2, and V3
(among other nodes).
immediately precedes: A node A immediately precedes a node B if it
is immediately to the left of B. In tree (1) on the left,
NP1 immediately precedes
T and T immediately precedes VP, but NP1 does
not immediately precede VP.
T also immediately precedes V3 M in tree (1). And
T also immediately
precedes VP and it also immediately precedes V.
Precedes is defined as follows:
- A node A precedes a node B if A immediately precedes B
- A node A precedes a node B if there is a node C such
C precedes B and A precedes C.
So NP1 precedes T because it immediately precedes T in tree (1),
but it also precedes VP, V3, and NP2.
Note that dominance and precedence are mutually exclusive.
A node X cannot both dominate and precede another node Y.
Essentially what this terminology does is break phrasehood
down into two parts, dominance and precedence. A phrase
is series of elements (words or phrases), dominated
by a single node, which come in a fixed order.
Constituent, constituent of, immediate constituent of:
A set of nodes form a constituent of some sentence structure
if and only if they are exhaustively
dominated by a single node in that structure.
A node A is a constituent of of some
other node B if and only if B dominates A.
A node A is an immediate constituent of of some
other node B if and only if B immediately dominates A.
The following table summarizes these points:
is a(n immediate) constituent of
We now have four ways of expressing the relation
between nodes that is exemplified in tree (2):
These all mean the same thing.
- A immediately dominates C.
- A is the mother of C.
- C is a daughter of A.
- C is an immediate constituent of A.
Defining traditional grammatical terms, pp. 112, 113
Not important at this stage
We've talked about mothers, grandmothers, great grandmothers,
and so on, which I'll write
great ... grand mothers. Now it's time to talk about nieces
and great ... nieces.
A node is branching if and only if there are at least
two nodes in the set of nodes it exhaustively dominates.
X C-commands Y if and only if the lowest branching
node dominating X also dominates Y and X does NOT dominate
Y nor does Y dominate X.
In (10) on p. 115,
Consider the following example:
B C-Commands C, D, E, F, and G.
C C-commands B [so C and B C-command each other.]
NOT C-command D,E,F,G, because it dominates all of them.
Here is where the nieces and great ... nieces come in:
A node C-commands its sisters and its nieces and its
great .... nieces, that is the daughters and grandaughters
and great- .... granddaughters of its sisters. Note that sisters
C-command each other.
Anaphora and C-command
Reflexives and reciprocals are special forms that occur only in
special syntactic contexts:
- John shaves himself often.
- John and Mary like each other.
The claim made in the text is reflexives and reciprocals are dependent
in a special way. Like pronouns they require antecedents. Unlike
pronouns they require
those antecedents to be in a special syntactic configuration:
Parallel facts for each other.
- Mary liked him.
- * Mary liked himself.
- John's mother likes him.
- * John's mother likes himself.
- His mother likes John.
- * Himself's mother likes John.
- * Himself likes John.
- Mary and Sue liked each other.
- * Mary and Sue's mother likes each other.
- * Each other likes Mary and Sue.
Words like reflexives and reciprocals that have this special
dependency property are called anaphors.
The following proposal is made for anaphors:
This accounts for all the ungrammatical examples above. For example:
There is no semantically acceptable antecedent that both precedes
and C-commands himself.
- C-Command condition on anaphors.
- An anaphor must have an antecedent that both precedes
and C-commands it.
Here there is a semantically acceptable antecedent that
precedes himself but it does not C-command
himself. The first branching node above
John does not dominate himself.
This example shows that precedence alone is not enough
to predict the distribution of anaphors.
- * John's mother likes himself.
The following example shows that C-command alone is not anough:
- * We gave pictures of each other to John and Mary.
The account also accounts for the ambiguity of examples like this
It could be that each arrow shooter is shooting at the
other. Or it could be that they are shooting each arrow at the other's
arrow. In other words, the antecedent of the reciprocal could
be We or it could be arrows. Both NPs C-command
and precede the reciprocal. Therefore both are candidate antecedents by
- We shot arrows at each other.
Questions to Think About
Now think about the following example:
Is there an analogous ambiguity? More importantly,
is there a problem for Principle A? Think about the tree for this example.
- Sarah and Sue talked to Mark and Hubert about each other.
Now think about this one:
- Mary and Sue thought those pictures of each other were great.
- Mary and Sue's pictures of each other were flattering.
- Those pictures of themselves pleased Mary and Sue.
Phrase-Structure rules and lexicon
We now move to a more precise statement of what the
grammar looks like.
We need a finite set of rules that can "generate"
an infinite set of sentences.
We're going to have two kinds of "rules"
Phrase-structure rules state immediate dominance
and precedence relations. The phrase-structure
rule for TP says a TP can immediately dominate a VP preceded
by an T preceded by an NP.
- Phrase-structure rules, which are used
to "admit" or "license" phrase-marers (trees)
and look like this:
- Lexical entries, which for the moment, just
assign categories to words. They look like this:
The lexical entry for "boy"
says "boy" is a noun.
We'll call the categories that belong to
some lexical entry lexical
We call the nodes in a tree that dominate
words or nothing terminal nodes.
Consider the following partial tree:
The nodes D,N,T, and VP are all terminal nodes
in this tree.
Phrase structure-rules and phrase markers
A phrase-structure rule admits local trees:
A tree is well-formed with respect to a grammar G if and only if
it meets two conditions:
- All the local trees are admitted by phrase-structure
rules in G.
- All the terminal nodes dominate words of the appropriate
lexical category as defined by the lexicon of G.
Definition of grammaticality
We call the words admitted by some well-formed
tree the yield of that tree.
Now we can say what strings are generated by a grammar G.
A string is grammatical if and only if
it it is the yield of some tree admitted by
Determining when a sentence is grammatical
accoding to a grammar
Our job in this course is not so much to find the right
grammar of English as to find ways of
evaluating candiadtre grammars. As a result,
the most important skill you learn in this course
will be determining whether or not some proposed
grammar characterizes an example sentence
If the grammar says the sentence is grammatical
and our intuitions tell us it's grammatical,
good for the grammar.
If the grammar says the the sentence is
grammatical and our intuitions
tell us it's ungrammatical, we
say the grammar overgenerates.
If the grammar says the the sentence is
ungrammatical and our intuitions
tell us it's grammatical, we
say the grammar undergenerates.
It's pretty safe to safe all the grammars we consider
in this course will do both. It will undergenerate
because there are lots of constructions we won't consider.
John grew happier, the more he ate.
The italicized constituent begins with a determiner,
like a noun phrase, but lacks a head noun. None
of the rules we consider in this course will generate
this sort of thing.
Our rules will overgenerate because even for the constructions
we DO consider there are all kinds of constraints we are
ignoring. For example:
(= 26, PS rule 6), p. 134, generates NPs like
But it also allows
So determiners and nouns have number,
and they must agree, and we haven't yet found a way to account for this.
The skill we need for this course is to be able to take a set of rules
and a set of data and decide whether the rules account
for the data. If not, we need to be able to decide on
the simplest change to our rules that will extend
them to cover the data.
Execrcise V, p. 160 is about this.
Particles and conjunctions
The question raised is whether we need to recognize new lexical
categories for particles and conjunctions.
What syntactic category that
we already recognize seems
like closest fit for these particles?
Some argue they should be assimilated to
prepositions, partly because they can (often)
be replaced with PPs.
- He put on his hat.
- If you pull too hard, the handle will come off.
- He was leaning too far out over the side and fell out.
- He went up to see the manager.
Radford notes prepositions can also function
as subordinating conjunctions:
- He put his hat on his head.
- If you pull too hard, the handle will come off the door.
- He was leaning too far out over the side and fell out the window.
- He went up the stairs to see the manager.
- After he ate he fell asleep.
- After the meal, he fell asleep.
- Matilda was envied for being such a good syntactician.
- Matilda was envied for her talent.
- I should wait until you return.
- I should wait until your return.
- There has been no trouble since you left.
- There has been no trouble since your departure.
And sometimes a single word can be a preposition, a particle, and a conjunction:
See also examples with after, before, p. 134.
- There has been no trouble since.
- There has been no trouble since your departure.
- There has been no trouble since you left.
So what Radford argues for (Emonds's analysis) is that there are
three uses of prepositions, the canonical preposition
use (where they take an NP complement), the conjunction
use (they take a clause complement) and the particle use (they
take no complement). This is just the kind of variation
we see with verbs.
Some prepositions take only the transitive and transitive
option and not sentential complements:
- John knows.
- John knows the answer.
- John knows that Columbus landed in the West Indies.
Again there are verbs that show THIS pattern:
- John went out.
- John went out the door.
- * John went out Mary exited.
- John ate.
- John ate the apple.
- * John ate Mary ate.
Another argument, essentially a distributional
argument, is that prepopositions, conjunctions,
and particles may all take the same modifiers:
- John left immediately before the party started.
- John left immediately before that.
- John left immediately before.
Now what about restrictions on all this behavior?
Many prepositions cannot be used as particles:
Many conjunctions (what Emonds would call
prepositions that take S complements) do not take NP complements:
- * He left until.
- * He left during.
But Emonds's story is going to be that these restrictions
are not categorial. They are lexical restrictions.
That is, these differences among what Emonds call prepositions
are like the differenvces between ordinary verbs.
Some verbs take S- but not NP-complements:
Some take NPs but not Ss:
- John hopes Mary will arrive soon.
- * John hopes Mary's arrival.
Some take no complement at all:
- * John enjoyed that Mary danced.
- John enjoyed Mary's dance.
So on the old analysis, Prepositions only
took NP complements; they were
a defective category.
The new analysis makes Prepositions look much more like
- John fell.
- * John fell the stairs.
Notice all the argumentation is about parsimony here.
Let's have fewer lexical categoires, because
overall that gives us a simpler picture of grammar.
Why is simpler better? Well if we constrain
the class of grammars (by constraining the class of
categories they can use), then maybe we are
on the way to explaining why children
learn them so easily.
Continuing along the same lines. Now we try to constrain
the class of categories by collapsing several categories together.
First we try to collapse adjectives and adverbs.
- Morphological: Both adjectives and adverbs have comparative
and superlative forms
- Objection: Many adverbs form their comparative and
superlative forms not with -er and -est but with more
- Response: So do many adjectives like expensive
- Often the same comparative form will be shared by
an adjective and its -ly counterpoart.
- She was happier than he was.
- * She works happilier than he does.
- She works happier than he does.
- Syntactic: Adjectives and Adverbs have similar premodifiers
like very, really, and extremely.
New official treatment: Adj and Adv get collapsed.
We call the new category A (rather than advective or adjerb).
Questions to Think about
Now think of an objection to collapsing adverbs
and adjectives. What's the first problem
that comes to mind?
Not conflating categories
The argument for conflating
Adj and Adv was really based on something
you may have learned about in previous
linguistics classes called
The idea is basically the Superman/ Clark Kent idea.
If there are two entities you
never see in the same place
at the same time, then maybe underlyingly
they're the same entity. It's just that
sometimes they're wearing glasses.
So the idea was that adverbs are just adjectives
In this particular case, the idea was that there's
one category which "surfaces" as an adjective
when it's modifying a Noun,
and as an Adverb everywhere else.
Compare this to the treatment of
allomorphy in the case of plural s
Three different ways of pronouncing plural s.
These forms occur in complementary distribution.
That is, they not only occur in environments that
mutually exclude each other, but the environments
taken together, exhaust the possibilities.
- fox: /f aa k s/ + /ax z/
- dog: /d ao g/ + /z/
- duck: /d uh k/ + /s/
Why not do more of the same?
Why not collapse adjectives and determiners?
There are a variety of facts that argue against
The basic morphological argument is that there
is no shared morphology between determiners and adjectives:
- Adjectives have comparative and superlative forms; determiners do not
- Adjectives take -ly to become Adverbs; determiners do not
- Adjectives take -ness to become noun; determiners do not.
- And so on...
- Different distributions. Determiner must always
precede adjective in an NP:
- The red book
- * Red the book
- Adjectives can iterate or "stack up" to the left of a
noun; determiners can not
- * a the book
- the big green machine
- More important (in my book). Adding a determiner
can an NP "complete". Adding an Adjective cannot:
- * book
- a book
- * favorite book
- my favorite book
- Determiners and Determiners can be conjoined;
adjectives and adjectives can be conjoined; determiners and
- each and every way
- a lazy and inconsiderate man
- *each and lazy man
- Selection between Adjectives and Nouns on semantic grounds
- Selection between
Sample exercise answers
Excercise VI. Example answers.
a: central determiner
no: central determiner
- a few books: CENDET + POSTDET
- an additional book: CENDET + POSTDET
- half a book: PREDET + CENDET
- * a the book: * CENDET + CENDET
no two books: CENDET + POSTDET
no additional book: CENDET + POSTDET
* no the book: * CENDET + CENDET
problem: *all no book: PREDET + CENDET