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Lecture 5: Prepositional Verbs and Phrasal Verbs

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1 Lecture 5: Prepositional Verbs and Phrasal Verbs
Advanced Syntax

2 The function of preposition phrases
PPs are often adverbials = modifiers They met [in the street] (location) She left [on Wednesday] (time) He retaliated [in anger] (manner) These are adjuncts – not restricted by the predicate: They met [in the street] [on Wednesday] [in anger] But some verbs take PP arguments, which are restricted He put the box [in the street] * he put the box [on Wednesday] * he put the box [with anger]

3 Problems of identification
PP arguments have a number of properties which are more like adjuncts They are often omissible He sent the letter ([to Mary]) But not always - he gave the letter * ([to Mary]) They are always further from the verb than DP arguments: * He sent [to Mary] the letter * he put [in the street] the box They can appear after adjuncts He put the box [carelessly] [in the street]

4 Is the distinction between argument and adjunct valid?
Omissibility is not really a distinct property of adjuncts: All adjuncts are omissible Some arguments are omissible He was eating (his dinner) We can separate the two kinds of omissiblity: He sent a letter (to London) He drove the car (to London) Is it possible to: Conceive of an act of ‘sending’ for which there is no goal? Not really – it isn’t ‘sending’ otherwise Conceive of an act of ‘driving’ for which there is no goal? Of course – driving can just involve making a vehicle move

5 Universal truths It isn’t possible to conceive of any event which does not take place in time and space Does this mean that time and location modifiers are arguments? If something applies to everything, it can’t be due to the meaning of individual predicates I phoned Bill on Wednesday It isn’t part of the meaning of ‘to phone’ that it takes place at a certain time This is just a fact about the universe – you don’t even need to know what ‘to phone’ means to know this

6 Event location and time are always adjuncts
Given that all events take place in time and space, then time and location are never part of the meaning of a predicate So, they are always adjuncts No predicate has a time argument But some have location arguments He placed the book in his bag This is not the location of the event, but the location the theme comes to occupy due to the event taking place He placed the book in his bag in the library

7 Some more examples Is the goal an adjunct or argument?:
He posted the letter to Mary He posted the letter There are two meanings for ‘post’ To send via the postal system To put something in the post Similar to: Shelve a book = put a book on a shelf Post a letter = put a letter in the post ‘Send’ obviously has a goal argument (you can’t send without one) ‘Put’ clearly has no goal So whether the goal is an argument or not depends on which ‘post’ is involved

8 Difference in DP and PP argument distributions
The difference between DP and PP arguments is due to Case DPs have to occupy Case positions PPs don’t Therefore the distribution of DPs is more restricted than that of PPs

9 PPs and the Utah Argument positions are fixed at D-structure
So a PP argument’s distribution should not be any different to a DP’s – at D-structure This suggests that PPs can undergo movements which DPs can’t

10 Extraposition There is evidence that some phrases move to the back of the clause (mostly clauses and PPs): A man [with a suitcase] arrived A man arrived [with a suitcase] A man [who seemed nice] phoned A man phoned, [who seemed nice] This movement is called Extraposition Its function seems to be to focus the extraposed phrase (add new salient information) What surprised me was: that a man with a suitcase arrived that a man arrived with a suitcase

11 The order of arguments and adjuncts
Due to extraposition a PP argument can move behind a PP modifier: I gave the money t1 [with reluctance] [to Bill]1 Therefore it only appears that PP arguments have distributions like adjuncts Note, some DPs also undergo extraposition: I met John yesterday * I met yesterday John I met yesterday [everyone who John told me to] This is called Heavy DP shift Only DPs with ‘heavy’ content can undergo it

12 The D-structure position of PP arguments
In the dative construction the PP goal is the complement of the lexical verb As this position follows all DP arguments, it seems reasonable to assume that this is the position for all PP arguments

13 Verbs with two PP arguments
Some verbs have two PP arguments I spoke to the students about the exam Both of these can’t go in the complement of V position The two PPs are interchangeable: I spoke about the exam to the students The evidence suggests that the first argument is higher than the second: I spoke to the students about themselves * I spoke to themselves about the students But this only works with one order: * I spoke about the students to themselves * I spoke about themselves to the students This suggests that the two orders have different structures

14 More about antecedents
The antecedent not only has to be higher than the pronoun It must be in a particular structural relationship with it: John shaved himself * John’s mother shaved himself A subject can be the antecedent of the object, but a phrase inside the subject cannot We call this relationship Command A structural element commands its sister and everything inside its sister A pronoun must be commanded by its antecedent

15 What this means for double pp arguments
Because of this, the two PP arguments cannot be arranged like this The first DP does not command the second

16 Double PP arguments: first try
Perhaps the structure is like this: The goal DP is in the specifier of the ‘about’ PP This PP is the complement of ‘to’ So the goal commands the second DP

17 Problems It is very odd that the DP related to the preposition ‘to’ is in the specifier of ‘about’ In all other cases we have seen arguments sit in either specifier or complement of their own predicate

18 Problems How is the other order achieved?
I spoke about the exam to the students If ‘about the exam’ moves in front of ‘to the students, this means P’ moves X’s don’t appear to be able to move If ‘to the students’ moves behind ‘about themselves’, this means something that isn’t even a phrase can move Only phrases can move

19 Double PP arguments: second try
If what moves is the ‘about’ phrase, this must be a full PP If this PP is in the complement of ‘to’, the goal must be in its specifier: The right relationship between the two DPs still holds The first DP commands the second

20 Problems The word order is wrong!
Perhaps this represents the D-structure order and movement changes the position of ‘to’

21 Evidence for preposition movement
In some languages, verbs and prepositions ‘fuse’ together by a process of incorporation Kinyarwanda (Rwanda, southern Uganda) Umugabo ya-tém-ye igití n’ úmuhoro man past-cut-asp tree with machete ‘The man cut the tree with the machete.’ Umugabo ya-tém-eesh-eje igití umuhoro man past-cut-APPL-ASP tree machete Preposition incorporation is movement of the preposition to join the verb Similar to a verb moving to a causative verb or tense inflection

22 Do english prepositions incorporate?
When a prepositional verb passivises, the verb and the preposition cannot be separated: He slept in the bed that night He slept that night in the bed the bed was slept in that night * the bed was slept that night in This suggest that, in this case, the verb and preposition form a single unit i.e. The preposition incorporates into the verb

23 Passivisation of prepositional verbs
That prepositional verbs can passivise is very strange: Only transitive verbs passivise in English John was hit/seen/frightened/feared ... * it was smiled/danced/sneezed/arrived ... But most prepositional verbs allow passivisation: The students were spoken to The bed was slept in The money was parted with The target was aimed at

24 Passivisation of prepositional verbs
In these cases, the object of the preposition behaves like the object of the verb The object of the verb moves in passives because the agentive verb is replaced by the passive morpheme and so the object loses it Case Why would the object of the preposition have to move?

25 Analysis Suppose that when the preposition incorporates with the verb it can’t Case mark the goal The goal will have to move to get Case from the agentive verb The verb moves (with the preposition) to support the agentive verb If the verb is passive, the goal must move further to subject to get Case

26 Is preposition incorporation obligatory?
In the case of two PP arguments, it seems that preposition incorporation has to take place: I spoke-to the students about the exam * I spoke the students to about the exam When there is one PP argument, it is difficult to tell as both structures give the same result

27 Structures

28 Structures

29 Cases where incorporation are impossible
When there is a theme, the preposition cannot incorporate: I gave the money to John * I gave-to the money John This is understandable as the object of the preposition would be Caseless It cannot get Case from the incorporated preposition It cannot move to the object position

30 Phrasal verbs There is a well know difference between the following:
He looked up the word (in the dictionary) He looked up the chimney The first involves what is traditionally called a phrasal verb A verb made up of a verb plus a ‘particle’ Incorporated preposition?

31 Why phrasal verbs are different
Several properties separate phrasal verbs from prepositional verbs: They have idiomatic interpretations the plane took off = to become airborne he let down the whole family = to disappoint the review put off the customers = to deter This suggests that they are single lexical verbs

32 Why phrasal verbs are different
Several properties separate phrasal verbs from prepositional verbs: They have the same stress pattern as a single verb Normally stress falls on the second syllable of a verb They ex’ported the wine He a’ddressed the audience The stress on a phrasal verb can fall on the preposition He put ‘over his message He let ‘down the family Prepositional verbs do not stress the preposition He jumped ‘over the fence (only with contrastive stress) Again, this suggests they are single lexical items

33 Why phrasal verbs are different
Several properties separate phrasal verbs from prepositional verbs: The preposition does not have to immediately follow the verb: He took off his hat he took his hat off He looked up the word he looked the word up This is not possible with prepositional verbs: he looked up the chimney - * he looked the chimney up He ran up the hill * he ran the hill up This does not favour a single lexical item analysis No other lexical item can be split up like this

34 More evidence that the verb and the particle are not part of the same word
The particle can be a whole phrase: This put the customers [right off their food] He took his clothes [all off] When this is the case, the particle cannot join with the verb: * this put right off their food the customers * he took all off his clothes This can be explained if phrasal verbs are formed by preposition incorporation Only the preposition itself can incorporate with the verb

35 Analysis of phrasal verbs
The obvious analysis is to treat phrasal verbs as: Having a PP complement Allowing the preposition to incorporate

36 What’s the difference between phrasal prepositional verbs?
This analysis is exactly the same as the one we proposed for prepositional verbs There is a structural difference between He looked up the word He looked up the chimney

37 What’s the difference between phrasal prepositional verbs?
In the first case, the object is an argument of the verb (theme): The preposition may optionally incorporate into the verb If so, when the verb moves to support the agentive verb we get: He looked1-up2 the word t1 t2 If not incorporate, we get: He looked1 the word t1 up

38 What’s the difference between phrasal prepositional verbs?
In the second case, the object is an argument of the preposition (location) The preposition may optionally incorporate But either way we get the same order when the verb moves

39 Idiomatic interpretation?
If phrasal verbs have the same analysis as prepositional verbs, why are they interpreted differently? Perhaps they are not Some phrasal verbs don’t have idiomatic interpretations: He stood the ladder up (phrasal verb order) (meaning = cause to stand up) Some prepositional verbs have idiomatic interpretations: The police looked into the matter * the police looked the matter into (no phrasal verb order) (meaning = investigate)

40 Conclusions In general PP arguments sit in the complement of the lexical verb The preposition may incorporate into the verb If there a theme argument, the preposition cannot incorporate If the verb is passivised, the preposition must incorporate Phrasal verbs are the same as prepositional verbs Most reported differences concern the position of the DP argument As an argument of the verb or of the preposition

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