Linguistics 110 Class 21 (12/9/02) Subcategorization


(1) What is missing in phrase structure rules? *Agnes slept Larry. (cf. Agnes hit Larry) *Agnes put. (cf. Agnes ran.) *Agnes put the book. (cf. Agnes bought the book.) *Agnes put in her pocket. (cf. Agnes stared at the TV screen.) • These are not bad because they violate phrase structure rules. The structures in question are acceptable. They’re bad because they violate the requirements of the verbs which have been inserted in the structures. • I.e., there are constraints on the syntactic contexts in which different words can occur. E.g., verbs tend to be picky about how many (and what kind of) dependents they occur before. • These constraints are idiosyncratic (i.e. not based entirely on semantics): I looked at the man. *I watched at the man. *I looked the man. I watched the man. • This shows that there’s more to sentence structure than phrase structure (what can combine with what, and in what order). • Phrase structure rules capture facts about linear and hierarchical structure, but they fail to capture the distribution of verbs and other elements, which also contributes to the grammaticality of sentences. (2) Solution: • Lexical heads fall into different classes, depending on the kind of dependent(s) (if any) which they must occur with. • We say that a head subcategorizes for the dependent(s) which it must occur with. • Dependents which are subcategorized for are called complements. Prepositions: Daniel put the magazine [PP away]. *Daniel put the magazine [PP into]. Daniel put the magazine [PP into the wastebasket]. away: [PP __ ] (these are sometimes called subcategorization frames.) into: [PP __ NP] Verbs: Daniel [VP died ]. *Daniel [VP found ]. Daniel [VP found the body ]. Daniel [VP put the book on the table ]. Adjectives: Daniel is [AP tall ]. *Daniel is [AP fond ]. 1

Daniel is [AP fond of music ]. Subcategorization options: Daniel [VP ate ]. Daniel [VP ate sushi ]. *Daniel [VP handed ]. *Daniel [VP handed a pencil ]. Daniel [VP handed a pencil to John ]. Daniel [VP handed John a pencil ]. Daniel threw the ball [PP over ]. Daniel threw the ball [PP over Jason’s head ]. Transformation (3) A problem for subcategorization: (a) Felicia will [VP discuss this book in class ]. (b) *Felicia will [VP discuss in class ]. (c) This book, Felicia will [VP discuss in class ]. • Why is sentence (b) bad? • Why is sentence (c) good? (4) Solution: The sentence is arrived at via a two-step process: • The verb was originally in a VP structure containing an NP complement of the appropriate type. • After the phrase structure rules (restricted by subcategorization) have applied to create the basic sentence structure, the complement is then moved to the front of the sentence. ➥ This solution solves the problem with subcategorization (not violated because the NP complement was there at the stage when subcategorization is evaluated). ➥ Also captures the intuition that ‘this book’ fulfills the same semantic function in (a) and (c). Transformational rules: rules which manipulate phrase structures following the application of phrase structure rules, but prior to pronunciation. Deep Structure = input to transformation Surface Structure = output of transformation (5) Yes/No questions (a) David will run. (b) Will David run? • The transformational rule: Subject-Auxiliary Inversion (SAI), or I-to-C Movement.


Deep Structure: CP | C’ ru C IP ru NP I’ | ru N’ I VP | will | N V’ David | V run (6) Affix-hopping and do-support (a) David ran. (b) Did David run?

Surface Structrue: CP | C’ ru C IP will ru NP I’ | ru N’ I VP | | N V’ David | V run

• Affix-hopping is restricted to adjacent affix and verb. • “Do” is inserted to save a stranded tense affix—do-support. do+{past} = did (7) Do-support in negative sentences (a) David will run. (b) David will not run. • Consider the negation of a VP to be a NegP, with the negation word as the head (Neg), and the VP as the complement. What’s the tree structure of (b)? • Did the structure you came up with agree with the following data? (c) David ran. (d) David did not run. (e) *David not ran. WH-Movement (8) Another subcategorization problem (a) I wonder who John likes. (b) *I wonder John likes. (c) *I wonder who John likes Mary. (d) I wonder whether John likes Mary. (e) (f) (g) (h) Karla knows what Leila found. *Karla knows Leila found. *Karla knows what Leila found the dog. Karla knows that Leila found the dog.


• Why do sentences (a) and (e) pose a problem for subcategorization if they are generated by brute force? • What do sentences (b) and (f) tell you? • What do sentences (c) and (g) tell you? • What do sentences (d) and (h) tell you? (9) Solution—WH-movement • WH-words in English: who, what, where, when, why, how, which • WH-phrases belong to different categories: who, what NP which book, what book NP how tall AP in which year PP where, when, why, how AdvP (PP) • WH-elements can occupy normal dependent positions, acting as complements and other dependents (i.e. no movement transformation involved): Echo-questions: You bought what? Quiz-show questions: Tchaikovsky was born in what year? • Constituents containing WH-elements often occur in moved positions: IP ru NP I’ | ru N’ I VP | {pres} | N V’ I ru V CP → CP wonder ru ru Spec C’ NP C’ ru g C IP N’ ru g NP I’ N | ru [+WH] N’ I VP who | {pres} | N V’ John ru V NP → NP like | [+WH] N’ t | N [+WH] who


(10) Why not to C? • Direct questions: (a) Who does John like? (b) Which book did John buy? (c) In what year was Tchaikovsky born? • Sentences (a)—(c) provide two reasons why WH-elements don’t move to C, what are they? • Restrictions on movement: head-to-head, XP-to-XP.