Phrase-structure rules Complements and adjuncts
We assume the following PS-rules (phrase-structure rules):
Read N'' as N-double-bar, N' as N-bar. N-double-bar is going
to be a synonym for what we've been calling NP.
- N'' => (D) N'
- N' => N' PP (Adjunct rule)
- N' => N PP (Complement rule)
The first thing these rules do is claim that there is a constituent
intermediate between an NP and lexical N. This will be a constituent
containing the head noun and its modifiers,
the italicized sequences in
the following NPs.
So far we only have rules for PP modifiers. Rules for other
types of modifiers will be given below.
- the king of France
- the yellow bird
- the letter carrier
- the unattractive hippotamus in the living room
The other thing the 3 PS-rules do is distinguish between two kinds
of PP modifiers, complements and adjuncts.
Here are the examples Radford uses to motivate the distinction:
There is a semantic intuition here which is not always
clear but can roughly explained as follows. The adjunct
and the noun express two distinct properties of the individual
described. It can be paraphrased in two separate clauses:
- complement: the student of physics
- adjunct: the student with red hair
The complement and the noun function together to express one property,
which can be expressed in one clause, and not in two:
- He is a student and he has red hair.
This semantic intuition is not very solid and the more you think
about it, the slipperier it gets. We are going to rely
on some suntactic facts to back us up.
- He studies physics.
- * He is a student and he is of physics.
We introduce a set of tests for the complement/adjunct distinction.
As a set of properties that all converge on making the same
distinction they constitute an argument for it. Some of them
are also simple predictions that follow directly from making this
If you look closely at the complement and adjunct rules
you will see that in any tree containing both a complement and an
adjunct, the complement must always occur closer to the noun.
This predicts the following facts:
Consider another example.
- a student of physics with red hair
- * student with red hair of physics
Let's test whether in Switzerland is a complement
or an adjunct, given the little we know so far.
- John's desire for justice
The second NP is certainly more marked, so we have
some evidence for the claim that
for justice is a complement.
- John's desire for justice in Switzerland
- ? John's desire in Switzerland for justice
The adjunct rule has the interesting property that it can be applied any
number of times. It has an N' as both the mother and the daughter.
In contrast, the Complement rule can only be applied once:
- the boy with red hair
- the boy with red hair with long arms
- the boy with long arms with red hair
- the with red hair with long arms in the den
- * the student of physics of astronomy
Note: Do not confuse this with the claim that there can only be one complement.
This is wrong:
There are clearly verbs that take two obligatory complements, which
must both be sisters to the lexical head:
- John handed Mary the ball.
- * John handed Mary.
- * John handed the ball.
This is not two applications of the complement rule. It is
one application of a single rule that allows two complements:
V' -> V NP NP
But only some heads, like hand, are eligible for this
rule. The noun student is clearly not one of them.
One is an anaphoric element that seems to be able to take
an entire N-bar as its antecedent.
- Bill has a yellow car with green racing stripes. Sue wants
a blue one. (one = car with green racing stripes)
We see the following contrast
- The student with red hair was smarter than the one with blue hair.
- * The student of astronomy was smarter than the one of biology.
We can coordinate adjuncts with adjuncts and complements
But we cannot mix.
- The student with red hair and with green eyes was quite striking.
- A student of astronomy and of physics must be smart.
Something bogus about this test?
- * The student with red hair and of physics
So far we've talked about predictions made
by our structural assumptions. Now we just point to
a syntactic fact that seems to be sensistive to
our complement/adjunct distinction,
without being able to say exactly why
Given our rules, a modifier may have more than one head to its left that it
can attach to:
To make sure you've got the idea, draw the trees for
the readings of example 1 (they are different) and
the trees for example 2 and example 3. (Hint: Problems
like this will show up on the midterm and final).
- The man with the wooden Indian in the corner.
- Reading one: The man standing in the corner who
has a wooden Indian.
- Reading two: The who
owns the wooden Indian that is in the corner.
- The store with the wooden Indian in the corner
- The store with the wooden Indian on the corner
Other kinds of complements and adjuncts
Sentential complements of nouns do occur:
- the claim that John left his post without permision
- the realization that he had failed his men
- the discovery that the universe was expanding
for the sake
of argument that
infinitival phrases are
VPs, here are some examples of verb phrase complements:
Note that if to leave is a complement, the PP to the
troops in III must also be a complement. Why? What kind
of PS-rule do we need?
- the decision to evacuate the city
- John's eagerness to explain his actions
- the order to the troops to leave
We will distinguish the sentential noun complements for
nouns like claim, realization, and
discovery from relative clauses like
- the book that John gave to Mary
- the box Ellen hid in the laundry room
- the claim that John refuted
Notice in the third example, even though
the noun claim is the head, the clause following
that is not a full clause on its own. Something
is missing from it that can semantically be identified with the claim.
Similarly in the first and second examples, that introduces
clauses with something missing.
- relative clause: the claim that John refuted
- complement clause: the claim that the world is round
Complements and adjuncts prenominally
We have the following order facts for some prenominal NP modifers.
Again we see a distinction in order, and we see
the same semantic relation that we saw filled
by an of phrase filled by a prenominal NP. That is,
the following are paraphrases:
- the Cambridge physics student
- * the physics Cambridge student
Other tests agree:
- the physics student
- the student of physics
- iteration A Cambridge high quality middle class student
- free order with adjuncts A high quality Cambridge middle class student
- Several Cambridge and Oxford students
- Several physics and astronomy students
- * Several Cambridge and astronomy students