Linguistics 522


Lecture 9

NP Movement


We begin by dealing with the analysis of passive sentences like the following:

We argue for the following analysis:
  1. [NP e] will be put the car in the garage.
  2. The car will be put [NP e] in the garage.
We propose that such sentences are derived by a passive-transformation. The D-Structure is (1), the S-structure (2). Note that the subject is empty in D-structure. Unless something happens, this D-structure will produce an ungrammatical S-structure, since English does not allow empty subjects:
  1. * will be put the car in the garage.
Thus, Passive saves an otherwise doomed D-Structure.

This is supposed to be a universal theory. Is this structure motivated for any other languages? The answer is yes. Some languages, such as German, have what is called an impersonal passive in which something like the D-structure proposed above can be a surface form, with something like a dummy there replacing the original subject:

    There will be put the car in the garage.

Note that in our English sentence the D-structure is not the D-structure of any active sentence. We claim that every passive underlyingly has an empty subject. Active sentences, on the other hand, have overt NP subjects:

    [NP John] [Infl will] [VP put the car in the garage].

Consider a passive paraphrase of this sentence:

The D-Structure for the passive is quite different from the D-structure of the active:
    [NP e] will be [V' [V' put [NP the car][PP in the garage] ] [PP by John]].
Note the by-phrase is not put there by transformation; it's not derived at all. It's there in D-structure as an adjunct. Note also: At no point in the derivation of this passive is John represented as an "underlying subject." So Passives are not derived from actives in this theory. There are several differences between the D-structures of passives and actives:
  1. Passive sentences have an empty subject, actives do not.
  2. Passive sentences have a passive verbal form in D-structure, actives have an active verb form. This means that passive verb forms are found in the lexicon; they are not derived by transformation.
There is also one very important similarity:
    Passive verb forms have the same subcategorization frames as their active counterparts, and they are filled in exactly the same way in D-structure.
We turn to arguments for this apparently crazy analysis:

Finally, note that passive may occur in exceptional clauses and in small clauses

Raising (or NP Movement) Constructions

We now turn to sentences like:

The analysis we propose for these is the following:
  1. D-structure: [NP e ] seems [ [NP John ] [Infl to ] [VP be unhappy.] ]
  2. S-structure: [NP John ] seems [ [NP e ][Infl to ] [VP be unhappy.] ]
In other words, the NP John moves from being subject of to be unhappy to being subject of the main clause. Because John gets raised in the tree, these are called raising or NP-movement constructions.

One claim made is that, underlyingly, John is subject of the downstairs clause. Let's test this with some of our subjecthood tests. Then we'll look for evidence of connectivity. That means complementary distribution, selection restrictions, funny subjects:

  • John seems to me to have perjured himself.
  • * John seems to me to have perjured myself.
This is strong evidence that, at some level of structure, John belongs in the underlying clause as subject. The proposed analysis does this.
    [NP e ] seems [S [NP John ] [Infl to ] [VP have perjured himself.] ]
Moreover the fact that John moves lets us capture another kind of reflexive fact:
    [NP e ] seems to himself [S [NP John ] [Infl to ] [VP be smart.] ]
After movement we get:
  • John seems to himself to be smart.
So by being subject of the main clause as well, after movement, the NP is entitled to another reflexive.

Note that we could say that reflexivization operates across S-bar boundaries (just as we said about Passive]. But this would get the facts wrong:

    * John seems to me to have perjured myself.
Agreement   This, like the reflexivization argument, is based on a subject property limited single clauses. Subjects agree with predicate nominals in the sam clause:
  1. They expect he is the president/*presidents.
  2. He seems to them to be the president/*presidents.
Again assuming starts out in the same clause with the predicate nominal allows a uniform account.

  1. John seemed the understand the problem.
  2. * My pet amoeba seemed to understand the problem.
  3. My pet amoeba seems to be reproducing.
  4. ? My kettle seems to be reproducing.
  5. My kettle seems to be boiling over.
  6. ? My pet amoeba seems to be boiling over.
In each case it seems to be the embedded clause verb that determines what the subject can be. The main clause verb seem on the other hand seems to be selectionally promiscuous. Whatever is okay downstairs is okay with it.

It's useful to compare seem with try

  1. My kettle seemed to boil over.
  2. ? My kettle tried to boil over.
Kettles can boil over but they can't try to boil over. The verb try really places selection restrictions on its subject. In contrast the verb seem seems not to.
Verbs that
swing two

Note that some verbs that are raising predicates take exceptional clauses and some take small clauses:

  1. John needs to be happy.
  2. John became happy.
  3. * John needs happy.
  4. * John became to be happy.
But some verbs are BOTH:
  1. John seems [S ti to be happy]
  2. John seems [SC ti happy]
The right way to describe this is to say that seem subcategorizes both an exceptional S and an SC.

The promiscuity of seem with respect to subjects is further brought out when we look at idiom chunks:

  1. The jig seems to be up.
  2. The cat really seems to be out of the bag.
  3. Tabs seem to have been kept on this gentleman for quite a while.

Again the key idiom words have limited distribution:

  1. The jig has reached its endpoint. [No idiomatic meaning.]
  2. ? I wish you would stop divulging that cat.
  3. * Tabs is/are a tricky business.

It's again useful to compare seem with a verb like try:

  1. * The jig try to be up.
  2. The cat really tried to be out of the bag.[no idiomatic meaning.]
  3. * Tabs tried to be kept on this gentleman for quite a while.
None of these subjects are compatible with trying, which does assign some kind trying role to its subject.

Looking at the sentences with seem again:

  1. The jig seems to be up.
  2. The cat really seems to be out of the bag.
  3. Tabs seem to have been kept on this gentleman for quite a while.
In all cases the construction that licenses the idiom is the downstairs one.

Ditto for dummy subjects.

  1. It seems to be obvious that no one will come. [obvious takes dummy it.]
  2. It seems to be raining.[rain takes dummy it.]
  3. It seems to be time to leave.[time takes dummy it.]
  4. There seems to be a problems here.[be an X takes dummy there.]
Again, trying try doesn't work:
  1. * It tried to be obvious that no one will come.
  2. * It tried to rain.
  3. * It tried to be time to leave.
  4. * There tried to be a problem here.

So what we're finding is evidence of the following:

  1. seem (unlike some other verbs with infinitivals) places no selection restrictions on its subjects.
  2. seem assigns no theta role to its subjects.
Our movement analysis of seem captures exactly these facts. We assume theta-roles are assigned and selection restrictions are applied at D-structure. But seem has no subject at D-structure in our analysis:
    D-structure: [NP e ] seems [ [NP John ] [Infl to ] [VP be unhappy.] ]
S not Sbar  

We assume that in raising constructions the lexical head subcategorizes for an S. So seem is "exceptional" like believe in that it goes with an S, not an Sbar. One reason: no complementizer allowed.

  1. * John seems for to be a fool.
Another more theory-internal reason is that we have in mind a general restriction, that will hold for both passive and NP movement, that movement doesn't cross Sbar boundaries.

All of these tests should remind you of the exceptional clause cases:

  1. We believe [S [NP John ] [Infl to ] [VP be unhappy.] ]
  2. [NP e ] seems [S [NP John ] [Infl to ] [VP be unhappy.] ]

In both cases the NP John seemed at first belong to the main clause, in both cases we proposed an analysis that denied it, and claimed that it was subject of the embedded clause. In the exceptional clause case, it was evidence such as passivization that made John appear to belong to the upstairs clause:

    John was believed to be happy.
So it can end up separated from what we think of as its true verb Be.

In the raising construction case, our principle evidence that John belonged to the main clause was that it started out separate from the embedded verb:

  • John seemed to be happy.
It came right before the main verb seem, not right before be.

In both cases, we decided the underlying truth differed from the appearances.

Both analyses share the property that the NP John receives no theta-role from the main verb. This explains how the distribution of funny elements is determined exclusively by the embedded verb.

In both cases, passivizing the embedded clause shouldn't make much of the meaning difference, because none of the roleplayers in the embedded clause play a role in the main clause:

  1. John expected the doctor to examine Mary.
  2. John expected Mary to be examined by the doctor.
  3. The doctor seems to have examined John.
  4. John seems to have been examined by the doctor.

Firtst, we get raising out of small clauses as well:

  1. John seems angry at himself.
  2. * John seems to me angry at myself.
What is angry at himself here? Well it contains a reflexive controlled by John, so want an analysis on which it is a clausemate with John. We also know there are two clauses here because of (2).

This leads to the small clause analysis:

    [NP e ] seems [SC [NP John ] [AP angry at himself.] ]
That is, John angry at himself is a verbless, infl-less ("small") clause.

Note we can also use "funny" subject arguments: here:

    It seems obvious the analysis is right.
PRO vs.

We now have two different competing analyses for simple(-looking) infinitival constructions:

  1. PRO (or control) analysis (try)
    [NP John] [VP tried [S' [Comp e ] [S [NP PRO] [Infl to] [VP be brave]]]]
  2. Raising analysis (seem):
    [NP e ] seems [SC [NP John ] [AP angry at himself.] ]
Remember they differ in two ways: in whether they involve movement (the raising analysis does, the PRO (or control) analysis doesn't); and in whether there is an S or S' complement after the verb.

Take a brand new construction:

  • John is apt to smile inappropriately.
Now how do we know which it is, raising or control?

If you have to apply one quick and dirty test to leap to a conclusion, use the there construction:

  1. There is apt to be an earthquake.
This is a funny subject, licensed by the verb "to be" in the embedded clause. So it should work with a verb that assigns no role to its subject, which indicates a raising verb.

As expected, this doesn't work with a control verb:

    * There tried to be an earthquake.

You should also be able to use idiom chunks and other dummy subjects:

  1. Tabs are apt to be kept on Commie sympathizers.
  2. It is apt to be obvious that John is drunk.
  3. * Tabs tried to be kept on Commie sympathizers.
  4. * It tries to be obvious that John is drunk.
And keep in mind the passive test:
  1. My dog is apt to attract fleas.
  2. Fleas are apt to be attracted by my dog. [paraphrases]
  3. My dog tries to attract fleas.
  4. ? Fleas try to be attracted by my dog. [ not paraphrases]
In drawing your final analysis, be sure to remember apt is an adjective:
    [NP e ] [VP [V' is [AP[A' apt [S [NP John ] [Infl to] [VP attract fleas]]]]]]

You can also see what's coming after the last homework. The final is apt to involve long complicated strings of words with long complicated derivations.

Take an example:

    John is certain to be considered a genius.
What's the answer?

First we want the S-structure. We know John is the subject. We next consider the relationship of that NP to certain

Remember that certain may be a raising or a control preidcate. For a quick guess, try a dummy-there test:

  • There is certain to be an earthquake.
Guess: This is a raising predicate. A dummy subject is okay! Tentative structure:
  • [Johni] [Infl isj ] [VP tj [AP certain [S ti [Infl to ] .....
Note that I have indicated the verb movement for the verb be.

We now move to a downstairs clause. Next we note that be considered is a passive form of the verb:

  • BE + Passive Particple
  • be + considered
Can consider be followed by an NP? Which is what passive needs to operate? Yes:
  • They considered John a genius.
Note that in order to decide the properties of a verb in complex sentences I ALWAYS look at it in simple sentences.

But what is this structure? This is a small clause structure. Evidence:

  • They considered John alone a genius.
Recall that alone works best with subjects. Structure for simple example:
  • They considered [SC John a genius]
Final structure for entire example:
  • [Johni] [Infl isj ] [VP tj [AP certain [S ti [Infl to ] [ be [VP considered [SC ti a genius]]]]]