Presentation on theme: "Syntax Lecture 2: Categories and Subcategorisation."— Presentation transcript:
Syntax Lecture 2: Categories and Subcategorisation
Recap Last week we saw that there is just on general kind of structure, the instances of which differ only in that they have different lexical heads Lexical heads have idiosyncratic properties (such as syntactic category) which are projected into the phrase structure So phrases differ depending on how lexical heads differ in their syntactic properties
Differences in lexical heads So how syntactically different can lexical heads be? There are two way heads differ – They have different categories – They differ in what complements they select
How many different categories are there? If phrases differ depending on what the category of the head is, but there can be an unlimited number of categories, we don’t have a very restrictive theory So is there a restrictive theory of categories?
Observation: we don’t need many categories for description Most syntactic descriptions work with a relatively small number of different categories Noun Verb Adjective Adverb Preposition Pronoun Determiner Particle Subordinator Coordinator Auxiliary verb Degree adverb In fact, some of these collapse into single categories
Collapsing categories: pronouns and determiners Many determiners work as pronouns – This book was bannedThis was banned – Some people are sadSome are sad – Few aeroplanes crashFew crash Some pronouns work as determiners – We humans – Them rocks (dialectal) – You lot
Collapsing categories: pronouns and determiners Those that cannot behave like the others are in complementary distribution with each other: – This map is wrongThis is wrong – The map is wrong* The is wrong – * It map is wrongIt is wrong This suggest they belong to the same category (like transitive and intransitive verbs)
Collapsing categories: subordinators and adverbs Some subordinating particles behave exactly like adverbs Obviously, he had gone He, obviously, had gone He had gone, obviously However, he had gone He, however, had gone He had gone, however They differ only in meaning – subordinating particles link sentences to other sentences But this is no reason to give them different syntactic categories
Collapsing categories: subordinators and adverbs Some subordinating particles don’t behave like adverbs Obviously, he had gone He, obviously, had gone He had gone, obviously... that he had gone *... he that had gone *... he had gone that These are clearly of a different category We call them Complementisers
Collapsing Categories: adverbs and adjectives Many adverbs and adjectives have the same root: – obvious: obviouslyfast: fastgreat: greatly This morphology is more like inflection than derivation – It is productive and semantically uniform like: smile: smiledwalk: walked not like: give: giftgrow: growthwear: ?
Collapsing Categories: adverbs and adjectives Adverbs and adjectives are in complementary distribution – Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives modify nouns – So we might see them as different subcategories of a general category of ‘modifier’ We refer to this category as A
Conclusion So it seems that the number of categories we need to describe language is very small Why is that? Without a theory of categories, we can’t explain this.
Different categories sometimes have things in common Verbs and prepositions take ‘bare’ objects: – visited Londonsaw the manshot him – to Londonfor the manwith him Nouns and Adjectives take objects with ‘of’: – Picture of Marygrowth of the trees – Fond of Marymindful of the trees
Different categories sometimes have things in common Phrases headed by determiners and prepositions can appear in ‘cleft’ position: – It was the map that was wrong – It was on the street that I met him Phrases headed by verbs and adjectives cannot: – * it was drive the car that he could – * it was melted that the ice cream was
Different categories sometimes have things in common How can we explain these facts if categories are completely unconnected?
A theory of categories We know that all categories fall into one of two main types Functional Determiners Auxiliary verbs Complementisers Etc. Thematic Nouns Verbs Adjectives/ adverbs Etc.
A theory of categories This suggests a ‘binary feature’ analysis – (like distinctive features in phonology: ±voice, ±long) Suppose we assume a feature ±F – Functional categories are +F – Thematic categories are -F
A theory of categories
But this still isn’t very restrictive One way to restrict the system is to assume that all categories are defined by binary features This would also account for similarities between different categories – Distinct categories can share one or more features (like different phonemes can be +voice)
A theory of categories Clearly we need more than one more feature as there are more than four categories needed But if we have too many features the number of categories they predict grows: – 1 feature = 2 categories – 2 features = 4 categories – 3 features = 8 categories – 4 features = 16 categories – 10 features = 1024 categories
A theory of categories Suppose we suggest two extra features: – ±N(things which are ‘nounlike’) – ±V(things which are ‘verblike’) Assuming nouns and verbs to be opposites to each other we get: – Noun = [-F, +N, -V] – Verb = [-F, -N, +V] This is supported by the fact that nouns and verbs share very little in common The system also predicts 6 more possible categories
-F categories There are two more –F categories: – [-F, +N, +V] – [-F, -N, -V] The first seems appropriate for A – They modify both nouns and verbs – Adjectives are often used as nouns The good, the bad and the ugly – In some languages adjectives are used as verbs – Nouns and adjectives don’t take bare objects – Verbs and adjectives can’t appear in cleft position
-F categories [-F, -N, -V] seems appropriate for prepositions: – Prepositions have no morphological properties They can’t be tensed They can’t be plural – Like verbs, they take bare objects (both are –N) – Like nouns, they head phrases which can be clefted (they are both –V)
-F categories We predict the following possible categories We also predict that there are no other thematic categories
+F categories The theory predicts four functional categories These are the functional equivalents to: – Nouns([+F, +N, -V]) – Verbs ([+F, -N, +V]) – A ([+F, +N, +V]) – Prepositions ([+F, -N, -V])
The functional noun equivalent The most obvious choice is the determiner – This is the functional category which plays a role in the nominal system Determiner = [+F, +N, -V]
The functional verb equivalent Similarly, the choice is obvious: the auxiliary – These are functional verbs Auxiliary = [+F, -N, +V]
The functional A equivalent As determiners precede nouns and auxiliaries precede verbs, the degree adverb precedes adjectives and adverbs: – so tallso quickly – as stupidas accurately – too coldtoo frequently Degree adverbs (Deg) = [+F, +N, +V]
The functional preposition equivalent Prepositions introduce nominal arguments Complementisers introduce clausal arguments One complementiser is very much like a preposition in that it appears to be able to be followed by a ‘bare object’ – I was anxious [for him to pass the exam] Complementisers = [+F, -N, -V]
+F categories We predict the following possible categories We also predict that there are no other thematic categories
A theory of categories
Subcategories The subcategories of a category are determined by what follows them – E.g. Verbs can be transitive (i.e. they are followed by an object) or intransitive (i.e. they are not followed by an object) In other words, subcategories are determined by what appears in the complement position
The complement of functional categories The functional categories do not usually have subcategories – they are almost always take the same complements – The complement of an auxiliary verb is always a VP may [ VP win the race] – The complement of a complementiser is always a sentence that [he may win the race]
The complement of functional categories – The complement of a degree adverb is always an AP so [ AP fond of chocolate] – The complement of a determiner is usually an NP The [ NP man from Brazil] – But some determiners can appear without a complement (e.g. pronouns) him
The complements of thematic categories Thematic categories can take various types of complement and so have a number of subcategories Verbs can be followed by – A DP see [ DP the news] – A clausethink [ that he saw the news] – A PPreact [ PP to the news] – An APfeel [ AP sorry] –s–s
The complements of thematic categories Prepositions can have the same range of complements as verbs, except for clauses – DPto [ DP the west] – PPfrom [ PP under the bed] – AP(range) from [ AP heavy] to [ AP medium]
The complements of thematic categories Nouns can have the same complements as verbs, except for DPs – Clausesbelief [that he can fly] – PPreaction [ PP to the news] – AP(his) feeling [ AP ill]
The complements of thematic categories ‘A’s can take clausal and PP complements – Clauselikely [that he will fail] – PPkeen [ PP on ice hockey]