The Syntactic Basis of Lexical Structure

Collected Essays by Joseph E. Emonds, Volume II



1 Preface: A Reader's Guide

Part I: The structure of the syntactic lexicon

7 The Invisible Category Principle (1987) Linguistic Inquiry 18, Number 4. (613-632)

27 Economy of Representation: the Realizations of X, +__YP (1991) In Proceedings of WECOL Volume 4. K. Hunt, T.A. Perry, V. Samiian, eds. Department of Linguistics, California State University, Fresno, CA. (102-116)

43 The Autonomy of the (Syntactic) Lexicon and Syntax: Insertion Conditions for Derivational and Inflectional Morphemes (1991) In Interdisciplinary Approaches to Language: Essays in honor of S.-Y. Kuroda. C. Georgopoulos and R. Ishihara, eds. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht. (119-148)

73 Complement Selection and the Syntactic Lexicon: Rereading Syntactic Structures (1992) In De la musique à la linguistique: Hommages à Nicolas Ruwet. L. Tasmowski and A. Zribi-Hertz, eds. Communication and Cognition, Ghent. (215-228)

87 Projecting Indirect Objects (1993) The Linguistic Review 10. (211-263)

141 Secondary Predication, Stationary Particles, and Silent Prepositions (1994) In Essays in Linguistics and Philosophy presented to Prof. Kinsuke Hasegawa. A. Baba et al., eds. Kenkyusha Press, Tokyo. (1-20)

161 Two Principles of Economy (1994) In Paths Towards Universal Grammar: Studies in Honor of Richard S. Kayne. G. Cinque, J. Koster, J.-Y. Pollock, L. Rizzi, R. Zanuttini, eds. Georgetown University Press, Washington, D.C. (155-172)

179 Deep Free, and Surface Bound Pronouns (1995) In Evolution and Revolution in Linguistic Theory. H. Campos and P. Kempchinsky, eds. Georgetown University Press, Washington, D.C. (110-137)

207 A Mapping Principle for Linking Language-particular Morphology with Universal Syntax (1995) Newcastle & Durham Working Papers in Linguistics Vol. 3. University of Durham. (57-76)

227 How Clitics Reveal the Flat Structure of Complex Verbs in Romance (1997) Lecture based on "How Clitics License Null Phrases: a Theory of the Lexical Interface" in Empirical Approaches to Language Typology: Clitics in the Languages of Europe. H. van Riemsdijk, ed. Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin (1999).

Part II: Two Essays on Diachrony

243 The Derived Nominals, Gerunds, and Participles in Chaucer's English (1973) In Issues in Linguistics: Papers in Honor of Henry and Renée Kahane. B.B. Kachru, R.B. Lees, Y. Malkiel, A. Pietrangeli, and S. Saporta, eds. University of Illinois Press, Urbana IL. (185-198)

257 A Reformulation of Grimm's Law (1973) In Contributions to Generative Phonology. M. Brame, ed. University of Texas Press, Austin TX. (108-122)

Preface: A Reader's Guide to The Syntactic Basis of Lexical Structure

As with its companion volume, the purpose of republishing these articles is to make more widely available a collection of essays that are or risk becoming unavailable. Half are contributions to Festschrifts, which, because of their cost, are unfortunately often not widely marketed or distributed.

Part I contains articles organized around two central themes of my work subsequent to A Unified Theory of Syntactic Categories in 1985. The primary theme is that particular grammars consist of only lexical entries for closed classes of "purely grammatical elements", whose most interesting properties emerge only within a framework that sharply distinguishes their derivationally late lexical insertion from the early or deep lexical insertion of open class items. A independent theme is that subcategorization frames are the only contextual information in lexical entries of both open and closed class items; item-particular theta grids or conceptual structures play no role in determining grammatical well-formedness. These two themes come together in a book published with Mouton de Gruyter (Berlin) in 2000, Lexicon and Grammar: the English Syntacticon.

I first discuss those articles that develop the general hypothesis that syntactic subcategorizations are the only lexical co-occurrence properties of individual lexical items (of any class). Several articles presuppose this claim rather than supporting it with detailed argument. Also, to reduce price, I have omitted a more general theoretical essay which situates and argues for this hypothesis: "Subcategorization and Syntax-Based Theta-Role Assignment", Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 9 (1991), 369-429.

That article critiques competing approaches for assigning to NPs various Gruberian theta-roles of agent, theme, and location, arguing that item-particular semantic specifications of context (theta grids, etc.) are unnecessary and undesirable in terms of formal complexity and learnability. It contains some but relatively few arguments based on empirical accounts. Articles #2, #4, #5 and to a lesser extent #6 contain several more detailed analyses that strengthen the subcategorization hypothesis. I summarize them here in what seems to me logical rather than chronological order.

Throughout, this Preface assumes a bifurcated transformational derivation at “Spell-Out” into (a branch to) Phonological Form (PF) and Logical Form (LF). As the summaries show, all articles except #4 also support my primary hypothesis that key grammatical elements must be inserted late in transformational derivations, typically after what is known as Spell-Out or “the branch to PF”.

4. Complement Selection and the Syntactic Lexicon: Rereading Syntactic Structures (1992). J. Grimshaw's (1979) "Complement Selection and the Lexicon" is widely thought to establish the superiority of semantic over syntactic selection, even though fully half of her essay argues for retaining subcategorization. My essay claims that her proposal for semantic selection of concealed questions and exclamatory complements is logically flawed in the first case and empirically inadequate in the second.

2. Economy of Representation: the Realizations of X, +__YP (1991). This article undertakes to extend subcategorization, as outlined in Chomsky’s Aspects of the Theory of Syntax, to all phrasal selection. It argues for reformulating subcategorization in terms of features and proposes that open class items select their complements by ignoring contentless intermediate grammatical heads such as of, as, if, and infinitival to. Section 4 proposes a "two-sided" (PF and LF) extension of the Case Filter that severely limits the inventory of subcategorization frames, and shows that "all the possibilities allowed by the Two-sided Case Filter seem realized somewhere in the space of lexical predicates." (113) Competing theories of semantically based selection set no such predictive limits on lexical structure.

Two aspects of this article support late insertion of closed class elements. The empty heads ignored in satisfying open class subcategorization are inserted in PF-defined contexts (section 3). A final section applies the theory developed in the article to predicate attributes and predicts their distribution, the location of their understood subjects, and their most salient cross-linguistic morphological case properties. It claims that their Case and Agreement features are inserted in PF and absent in LF.

5. Projecting Indirect Objects (1993). Like recent transformationalist analyses of the English dative alternation, this account accepts the implications of Barss and Lasnik’s (1986) “Note on Anaphora and Dole Objects” in Linguistic Inquiry that in both English double object constructions, the first object asymmetrically c-commands the second. The literature reviewed shows the wide cross-linguistic validity of extending this account to “benefactive applicatives.” It is then argued that a single subcategorization frame +___NP^NP underlies all these alternations and that Case theory requires a syntactically empty P before the second NP. The article claims that the Projection Principle permits structure-preserving NP interchange, and that the difference between the two constructions (IO-DO vs. DO-overt P-IO) concerns when this P is lexicalized in PF and/ or how a feature on V (in some languages) licenses this P to be empty.

6. Secondary Predication, Stationary Particles, and Silent Prepositions (1994). Sections 1-3 establish that PP complements of PLACE systematically differ from PPs of PATH, in particular that only PLACE PPs are predicates in LF. Using data from English, French and Japanese, section 4 accounts for the differences by showing that the PATH PPs properly contain subcategorized PLACE PPs, which in turn are secondary predicates of objects (or subjects). The extra PATH PP shell is attributed to a general Revised Theta Criterion rather than to any lexical semantic specifications on individual verbs.

The article extends late insertion to grammatical elements interpreted at LF, provided they lack purely semantic features. Sections 1-2 use this property to explain various syntactic properties of English post-verbal directional particles (up, in, away, etc.) and corresponding French motion verbs (monter ‘go up’, entrer ‘go in’, partir ‘go away’, etc.).

The remaining articles of Part I focus more on formalizing and justifying late lexical insertion for (only) closed class items. I first started systematizing the conditions governing late insertion in chapter 4 of A Unified Theory of Syntactic Categories. A long-term interest in local rules together with H. Borer’s hypothesis in her book Parametric Syntax that all language-particular grammar is in the lexicon had led me to rethink the fact that local transformations seemed to unite three properties: they affected only a very local domain, they typically had some specific morpheme(s) in their structural description, and they needed to apply late in a derivation. For example, the affix movement and do-support of Syntactic Structures must apply after a range of other more general transformational operations. I concluded that local transformations should be recast as subcategorization frames for the mentioned morphemes that are satisfied not at deep structure but later in a derivation.

Since local rules had been justified only for members of closed classes and certain highly grammaticalized open class items, I concluded that late lexical insertion affects only morphemes without purely semantic (= non-syntactic) features. From this emerged parallel claims about open class items with purely semantic features: they are limited to the four lexical classes and their insertion frames are always satisfied at the outset of a derivation (at deep structure).

Moreover, among morphemes which are bound rather than free, those whose distributions depend on transformational outputs seem to coincide exactly with those deemed inflectional in traditional treatments and “relevant to syntax” by Steven Anderson (“Where’s Morphology?”, Linguistic Inquiry 13, 571-612). Chapter 5 of A Unified Theory thus proposed that inflectional but not derivational morphology results from late insertion.

These are some of the main ideas both of the articles summarized below and of my book Lexicon and Grammar: the English Syntacticon.

1. The Invisible Category Principle (1987). This article proposes that (English) inflectional morphemes are not “lowered” into their surface positions but directly inserted in them in PF according to a condition of “Alternative Realization.” When inflections (e.g. the English past -ed) thus spell out complexes of grammatical features in “non-canonical” positions, the canonical positions interpreted in LF (e.g. [I, +PAST] may be empty if they satisfy a locality condition (the “Invisible Category Principle”). A number of free, closed class morphemes are also claimed to alternatively realize and thus license empty categories. In particular, a LOCATION feature on grammatical heads of “bare NP adverbials” (place, way, time, day, month) is argued to license an empty P that case-marks them.

3. The Autonomy of the (Syntactic) Lexicon and Syntax: Insertion Conditions for Derivational and Inflectional Morphemes (1991). The only Modern English inflection not treated in “The Invisible Category Principle” is the versatile -ing, which forms productive gerunds and participles (the progressive being a special case) as well as lexical derived nominals and adjectives. This essay argues that all four usages derive from a single lexical subcategorization [+N], +V___. With no further conditions, this frame leads to PF insertion. The “phrasal category changing” effect of -ing then follows from a definition of lexical head of a phrase, which ignores heads that are empty in the syntax (here, the suffixal category). When purely semantic restrictions are added to the same frame, the deep insertion typical of non-productive morphology leads to, the essay argues, a predictable lack of verbal syntax.

The second half of the essay ranges the three non-finite English clausal types on a scale of Economy and shows how obligatory control complements can all be selected by a frame +___V without diacritics. An economy principle, “Minimal Structure,” succeeds in choosing among the three types.

7. Two Principles of Economy (1994). Careful formulation of the rule raising English finite copulas and have into I (“V-raising”) reveals its highly stipulative character. A simpler system results from inserting these forms directly under I in PF; co-indexing of featureless I and V then permits V to be empty, and this eliminates V-raising in English. Economy of Derivation is reformulated to prefer porte-manteau morphs and inflections to sequences of separate words (“insert as few free morphemes as possible”). The last section uses this version of Economy, together with Alternative Realization and the Invisible Category Principle, to account for “pro-drop” in languages with richly inflected verbs.

8. Deep Free, and Surface Bound Pronouns (1995). This essay derives five different empirical properties of free and bound pronouns (cf. T. Reinhart’s distinction in her volume Anaphora and Semantic Interpretation) respectively from whether pronouns (i) actually refer to conceptual elements in a universe of discourse and are not c-commanded by their (pragmatic) antecedents, or (ii) only co-refer to a c-commanding linguistic antecedent, which additionally must be exterior to their “governing category”. (This essay rejects the claim that pronouns with c-commanding antecedents are ambiguous.)

Articles in this volume typically don’t distinguish late insertion of grammatical elements that contribute to LF (pronouns, prepositions) from PF insertion of morphemes whose features play no role in LF (copulas, alternative realizations). Both are typically contrasted with deep insertion of open class elements. But here in section 4, free pronouns agree with antecedents at deep structure, bound pronouns are assigned antecedents in the syntax, and bound pronouns are specified for agreement features in PF (as are the agreement features of predicate attributes in article #2). This three-way division of labor foreshadows the structure of the insertion model in Lexicon and Grammar: the English Syntacticon.

9. A Mapping Principle for Linking Language-particular Morphology with Universal Syntax (1995). This essay, prepared for communications specialists outside linguistics, formulates transformational derivations as mapping sets of language--particular lexical choices into LFs that obey universal well-formedness conditions. It suggests that a significant function of derivations is to “eliminate or make invisible” such lexical differences in identical LFs. Like this volume’s other works, it locates all language-particular grammar in closed class lexical entries (those lacking purely semantic features). It exemplifies this thesis using the accounts of inflectional morphology in articles #1, #3, and #7, arguing that “a procedure which heuristically ‘erases’ or ‘by-passes’ bound morphology and other closed class items...fails to capture the actually combinatory properties of the individual languages.”

10. How Clitics Reveal the Flat Structure of Complex Verbs in Romance (1997). This detailed hand-out analyzes the multiple verb structures sometimes described as “clause union”: restructuring or like-subject constructions, causative or unlike-subject constructions, and auxiliary or single-subject constructions. It summarizes large parts of my 1999 essay, "How Clitics License Null Phrases: a Theory of the Lexical Interface," in H. van Riemsdijk, ed., Empirical Approaches to Language Typology: Clitics in the Languages of Europe, Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin. It argues that they all these constructions exemplify “flat structures” in which the matrix and complement verbs are sisters, and claims such structure are possible only when the matrix verbs are late-inserted closed class elements. This handout schematically presents a theoretical account of how a single subcategorization frame selecting a V-headed complement can yield two types of complement: a full phrasal complement with no clitic-climbing results from deep insertion while a flat structure complement permitting clitic-climbing results from late insertion in the syntax or in PF.

Part II contains two early articles on diachronic linguistics, one in syntax and one in phonology.

11. The Derived Nominals, Gerunds, and Participles in Chaucer's English (1973). This empirical study of a Chaucer text assigns a quite late date to the emergence of the productive English gerund V-ing. This dating implies that in Chaucer's speech, "the participle and the derived nominal had become phonetically identical" (194) even though the Modern English gerund had not yet emerged. This article can be read as an empirical appendix relevant for article #3, which uses this discrepancy to support my account of the historical emergence and proper synchronic analysis of the gerund.

12. A Reformulation of Grimm's Law (1973). This essay, unrelated to the others in the volume, proposes a novel reconstruction of Indo-European stop series. It gained a certain currency when named as the source of a "revisionist trend" whereby proto-Germanic and Armenian are taken to reflect the earliest states of two series of Indo-European stop consonants. Nine independent arguments are provided favoring the revised IE system, termed New Indo-European (“NIE”).

I would like to thank Lída Veselovská, who has made this project a reality.

Joseph E. Emonds

Department of English Language and Linguistics

University of Durham

September 1998