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Basic English Syntax With Exercises

Basic English Syntax With Exercises

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Published by: Leslie Cooper on Nov 26, 2009
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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:

Raising and Control

295

(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:

Chapter 8 - The Syntax of Non-Finite Clauses

296

(57)

IP

DP

I'

e I

vP

may

v'

it

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 non-
finite, 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 non-
finite 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:

Raising and Control

297

(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 non-
finite 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

I'

the mouse2 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]]]

Chapter 8 - The Syntax of Non-Finite Clauses

298

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.

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