5 Extending the X' schema


In Chapter 4, we introduced the X' schema of phrase structure, according to which lexical items project an elementary tree consisting of a spine of projections and up to two argument positions. In this chapter, we extend the X' schema to syntactic categories other than V, I, or C, including N(oun) (see Nouns for some basic information), D(eterminer), Adj(ective), and P(reposition). The final section of the chapter illustrates crosslinguistic variation with regard to the order of heads and complements.

Noun phrases

Parallels and differences between noun phrases and sentences

The X' schema of phrase structure that we introduced in
Chapter 4 is a specific expression of a more general idea - namely, that lexical items of different syntactic categories show significant cross-categorial parallels. In the history of generative grammar, this idea was primarily based on the cross-categorial parallels between noun phrases and sentences (Chomsky 1970). In what follows, we review these parallels, as well as some differences between the two categories.

Argument structure. Early in the history of generative grammar (Lees 1960), it was observed that sentences like (1a) and noun phrases like (1b) share several important properties.

(1) a.   The army destroyed the city.
b. the army's destruction of the city

The semantically central element of the sentence in (1a) is the verb destroyed, and its semantic arguments, the agent the army and the theme the city, are both expressed as syntactic arguments of the sentence. In a parallel way, the semantically central element in the noun phrase in (1b) is the nominal counterpart of destroy, the noun destruction. Like the verb, the noun is associated with an agent argument and a theme argument that are both overtly expressed - in this case, as the possessive expression the army's and the prepositional phrase of the city.

The correspondence in (1) is supported by that between the passive sentence in (2a) and its passive-like noun phrase counterpart in (2b).

(2) a.   The city was destroyed (by the army).
b. the city's destruction (by the army)

In both of these examples, the argument preceding the head is now the theme the city('s), and the agent argument is expressed by an optional by phrase.

Modification. A further parallel between sentences and noun phrases is that in both categories, the semantically central element - the verb or the noun - can be modified in similar ways, as illustrated in (3) and (4).

(3) a. Prepositional phrase She gives money to the organization on a regular basis.
b. Adverb   She regularly gives money to the organization.
(4) a. Prepositional phrase her gifts of money to the organization on a regular basis
b. Adjective her regular gifts of money to the organization

Some cross-categorial differences. Sentences and noun phrases also exhibit certain differences. First, arguments and modifiers are not always expressed in exactly the same way across the two categories. For instance, the agent argument is expressed as an ordinary noun phrase in a sentence like (1a), but as a possessive noun phrase in a noun phrase like (1b). In a sentence, the theme argument is expressed as a noun phrase, but in a noun phrase, it must be part of a prepositional phrase, usually an of phrase. Finally, although verbs and nouns can both be modified by prepositional phrases, verbs are modified by adverbs, whereas nouns are modified by adjectives. In connection with this last difference, notice that adverbs can precede or follow the verb they modify, whereas adjectives are ordinarily restricted to prenominal position.

(5) a. Adverb The kids regularly donate their old toys.
b. The kids donate their old toys regularly.
(6) a. Adjective the kids' regular donation of their old toys
b. * the kids' donation of their old toys regular

A further and even more fundamental difference between sentences and noun phrases concerns the subject requirement. As we saw in Chapter 3, all sentences require a syntactic subject, even when it does not correspond to a semantic argument, as is evident from the contrast between (7) and (8).

(7) a.   It appears that the manuscript has been found.
b. There exists a solution.
(8) a. * Appears that the manuscript has been found.
b. * Exists a solution.

By contrast, noun phrases never require a subject. For instance, the agent argument of a noun can be expressed, but it needn't be, as shown in (9).1

(9) a.   the committee's criticism of the proposal
b.   the criticism of the proposal

What is even more striking is that sentences with expletive subjects have no noun phrase counterparts. As (10) shows, the very expletive expressions that are obligatory in (7) are ungrammatical in noun phrases.2

(10) a. * it(s) appearance that the manuscript has been found
b. * there('s) existence of a solution

In summary, noun phrases resemble sentences in that their core categories - nouns and verbs, respectively - have semantic arguments that can be expressed as syntactic arguments in partly similar ways. Nouns and verbs can also be modified in largely similar fashion. We do not deny that the two categories differ fundamentally with respect to the subject requirement. However, in the remainder of this part of the chapter, our focus will be on how to represent the parallel aspects of noun phrases and sentences.

Noun phrases as DPs

A striking fact about nouns is that they cannot in general function as arguments on their own, but must be accompanied by a determiner.

(11) a. * Assignment is not difficult.
b. * You should hand in assignment.
(12) a.   { The, this, that } assignment is not difficult.
b. You should hand in { the, this, that } assignment.

We conclude from this that noun phrases are the result of composing two projections, one headed by the noun and the other by the determiner, as shown in (13).

(13) a.       b.       c.  

Given the structure in (13c), the traditional term 'noun phrase' is a misnomer since noun phrases are maximal projections of D rather than of N. Because the term 'noun phrase' is firmly established in usage, we continue to use it as an informal synonym for 'DP'. However, in order to avoid confusion, we will use the term 'NP' only to refer to the subconstituent of a noun phrase that is the complement of a determiner. We will never use it to refer to an entire noun phrase (that is, a DP).

In the simplest case, the elementary tree for a noun consists of just a spine, as in (13b). But like verbs, nouns can have both complements and specifiers. For instance, depending on which of the noun phrases in (14) it appears in, criticism is associated with one of the elementary trees in (15).

(14) a.   They refuted the criticism.
b. They refuted the criticism of the proposal.
c. They refuted the committee's criticism.
d. They refuted the committee's criticism of the proposal.

(15) a.       b.       c.       d.  

In (14a), the phrase the criticism is derived in exactly the same way as the assignment in (13) - by substituting the NP in (15a) as the complement of the determiner. In (15b), the noun phrase containing criticism is derived as in (16). For simplicity, we disregard the internal structure of the PP for the moment.

(16) a.       b.       c.  
Elementary tree for N (15b) Substitute theme argument Substitute (16b) in elementary tree for D

Noun phrases containing possessive noun phrases, like (14c), require a possessive head 's, which contains two argument positions (rather than just one like an article). The possessive head is shown in (17a). The derivation of the entire noun phrase proceeds as follows. First, the agent argument substitutes into the specifier position of the elementary tree for the noun. The resulting NP then substitutes into the complement position of the possessive head. Finally, the argument in Spec(NP) moves to Spec(DP) in a manner analogous to subject movement in sentences.3

(17) a.       b.       c.  
Elementary tree for possessive 's Elementary tree for N (15c) Substitute agent argument
d.       e.  
Substitute (17c) in (17a) Move specifier from Spec(NP) to Spec(DP)

Finally, deriving (14d) involves substituting both the agent and theme arguments in the elementary tree in (15d). The remainder of the derivation is identical to that of (14c), as shown in (18).

(18) a.       b.       c.  
Elementary tree for possessive 's (17a) Elementary tree for N (15d) Substitute arguments
d.     e.  
Substitute (18c) in (18a) Move specifier from Spec(NP) to Spec(DP)

In (19), we repeat the tree for the noun phrase in (18e) side by side with the tree for the corresponding sentence. In order to underline the topological parallel between the two trees, we omit the internal structure of the theme DP in (19b). As is evident, apart from the labels for the syntactic categories, the two-layered structure for noun phrases (NP, DP) presented here is analogous to the two-layered structure for simple sentences from Chapter 4 (VP, IP).

(19) a.       b.  

In view of the structural parallel in (19), it is convenient to generalize the notion of subject to include both Spec(IP) and Spec(DP). Accordingly, we will use the term 'subject movement' to subsume both movement from Spec(VP) to Spec(IP) and movement from Spec(NP) to Spec(DP).

The structural parallel between the two trees in (19) is further supported by the following semantic parallel. In a formal semantics that is simple but sufficient for our purposes, an NP constituent denotes a set of individuals. For instance, the NP dominating woman denotes the set of all women, and the NP dominating president of the United States denotes the set of all presidents of the United States - past, present, and future. Combining an NP with a determiner like this or those has the syntactic effect of yielding a DP and the semantic effect of picking out a particular individual (or individuals, in the case of a plural noun) from the set denoted by the NP. Which particular individuals are actually picked out depends not just on the meaning of the NP and the determiner, but also on the particular discourse context in which the DP is used. This is what allows a noun phrase like the cat to refer to different cats in different discourse contexts. In a similar way, we can think of VPs as denoting situations. For instance, a VP like these cats jump onto the dresser denotes the set of all situations in which the individuals denoted by these cats jump onto the piece of furniture denoted by the dresser. Combining a VP with a tense morpheme in I then picks out one of these situations (at least under some theories of tense). For instance, the tensed IP These cats jumped onto the dresser picks out one of the situations that occurred before the time of speaking (how the past tense morpheme combines with the verb to yield jumped is discussed in detail in Chapter 6). Once again, the particular situation picked out depends in part on the discourse context, so that the same sentence can be used to refer to more than one situation.

In concluding this section, we draw attention to the fact that in the noun phrases that we have considered so far, any constituents in Spec(DP) have expressed arguments of the noun and have hence undergone subject movement. However, subjects of noun phrases don't necessarily originate in the NP projection. In a noun phrase like the student's program, for instance, it makes more sense to treat the student as an argument of the possessive morpheme rather than of the noun program. Accordingly, we give the noun phrase the structure in (20), where N doesn't project a specifier and the subject of the noun phrase is substituted directly into Spec(DP). (For simplicity, we omit the internal structure of the specifier.)

(20)    

More on determiners

Subcategories of determiners. Like verbs and nouns, determiners have different degrees of transitivity. For instance, the definite article the and the indefinite article a(n) are obligatorily transitive, whereas the demonstratives this and that are optionally so.

(21) a.   I'll buy { the, a } book.
b. * I'll buy { the, a. }
(22) a.   I'll buy { this, that } book.
b. I'll buy { this, that. }

Certain ordinary pronouns pattern just like demonstratives, as shown in (23), and so we will treat them, too, as optionally transitive determiners.

(23) a.   we Americans, you fool(s)
b. we, you

Finally, ordinary pronouns can also behave like obligatorily intransitive determiners, as shown in (24).

(24) a.   I, he, she, it, they
b. * I idiot, he fool, she linguist, it piece of junk, they traitors

In this connection, recall the warning in Chapter 1 that the term 'pronoun' is potentially misleading. It suggests that pronouns are a subclass of nouns. If that were so, then pronouns should combine with articles and demonstratives in the same way that other nouns do. In fact, however, pronouns behave exactly like complete noun phrases in this regard, as shown in (25). The facts in (25) thus provide strong evidence for the analysis of pronouns as determiners just presented.

(25) a. Noun the people, this woman, that addressee
b. Noun phrase (= DP) * the these people, this the woman, that the addressee
c. Pronoun (= pro-DP) * the they, this she, that you

Elementary trees for the various types of determiners that we have just discussed are given in (26).

(26) a.       b.       c.       d.       e.       f.  

Silent determiners. As shown in (27), plural indefinite count nouns and indefinite mass nouns are apparently not accompanied by an article, in contrast to their singular or definite counterparts.

(27) a.   ___ cars, ___ apples; ___ rice
b.   a car, an apple; the rice

However, we assume for conceptual reasons that the examples in (27a) contain a silent article that is semantically roughly comparable to the unstressed some in I would like some apples and some rice. We assume that the silent article has a singular and a plural form, as shown in (28). The singular form combines with mass nouns, and the plural form with plural count nouns.

(28) a.       b.  

We have two reasons for assuming the existence of silent determiners. First, this assumption allows us to minimize the difference between English and a language like Spanish, where the indefinite article has singular and plural forms that are both overt. The resulting correspondence between English and Spanish determiners is shown in (29); the plural indefinite articles are in boldface. For simplicity, we give only the masculine forms of the Spanish determiners.


(29)     English Spanish
Sg Pl Sg Pl

Demonstrative this these este estos
that those ese esos
Definite article the the el los
Indefinite article a(n) [indef pl] un unos

Second, assuming the silent determiner allows us to maintain that all noun phrases are DPs. Sentences like (30) can then all be derived using the single elementary tree for brought in (31).

(30) a.   Some butlers brought some tea.
b.   Some butlers brought tea.
c.   Butlers brought some tea.
d.   Butlers brought tea.

(31)    

We show the complete structure for the apparently articleless butlers and tea in (32), but in (33) we simplify the structure for the noun phrases in order to make it easier to focus on the structural similarity across all four sentences.

(32) a.       b.  

(33) a.       b.  
c.       d.  

In principle, we could take an alternative tack. If it were our goal to assign the least possible amount of structure (that is, the structures with the fewest nodes) to each sentence in (30), we would reject the silent determiner in (28) and we would represent butlers and tea using the trees in (34) rather than those in (32).

(34) a.       b.  

The alternative structures under discussion for (30d) are given in (35). (35a) is simply (33d), but with the internal structure of both DPs fully shown.

(35) a.       b.  

Clearly, the tree in (35b) is simpler than its counterpart in (35a) in the sense of containing fewer nodes. However, this simplicity comes at the price of a veritable explosion in the number of elementary trees in the grammar, since every argument position that can be filled by a noun phrase would need to be associated with two elementary trees (one with a DP substitution node, and one with an NP substitution node). For instance, instead of the single elementary tree for brought in (36a), we would need the three additional trees in (36b-d).

(36) a.       b.       c.       d.  

More generally, obligatorily intransitive verbs would require two elementary trees rather than one, obligatorily transitive verbs - the case just illustrated - would require four (2 x 2) rather than one, and optionally transitive verbs would require six (4 + 2) rather than two (1 + 1). This result seems unappealing on computational grounds. Moreover, the whole idea of simplifying the representations of individual sentences is inconsistent with the Chomskyan paradigm of language. Why? From a Chomskyan perspective, what syntactic theory attempts to model and understand is grammar in the sense of the mental capacity to generate sentences, not the set of phrases and sentences that is the output of the grammar. A reasonable working hypothesis is that the best model for this capacity is the simplest possible grammar. From a Chomskyan perspective, striving to simplify the representations of sentences at the expense of complicating the grammar itself is missing the whole point of constructing grammars in the first place!

Modification and related issues

N' as target of adjunction. As we noted in our introductory review of the parallels between noun phrases and sentences, nouns and verbs can be modified in similar ways. In (37), for instance, the same prepositional phrase in the hospital modifies the noun stay and the morphologically related verb stayed.

(37) a.   Mike's stay in the hospital
b. Mike stayed in the hospital.

Extending the approach to representing modification introduced in Chapter 4, we can derive the structure for the noun phrase in (37a) as in (38). (For simplicity, we omit the internal structure of the proper noun in the specifier; for details, click here).

(38) a.       b.       c.  
Elementary tree for N Substitute argument Substitute (38b) in elementary tree for possessive 's
d.       e.       f.  
Move subject Select N' as target of adjunction Adjoin PP at target of adjunction in (38e)

Apart from the category labels, the resulting structure in (38f), repeated for convenience as (39a), is analogous to the structure for the corresponding sentence in (39b).

(39) a.       b.  

Leftward adjunction. So far, we have discussed modifiers that follow the head, whose representation involves rightward adjunction. Structures for examples like (40), where the modifier precedes the head it modifies, can be derived by leftward adjunction, with the results in (41).

(40) a.   Kelly's nervous grimace
b. Kelly nervously grimaced.

(41) a.       b.  

One substitution. As discussed in Chapter 4, do so substitution allows us to distinguish between complements and adjuncts in the verbal system. A similar diagnostic is available in the nominal system - one substitution, which is illustrated in (42).

(42) a.   this book on the floor and that one
b. this book on the floor and that one on the table

In the most natural interpretation of (42a), one is interpreted as book on the floor. In (42b), on the other hand, one is interpreted as simply book. We can represent these facts by assuming that the first conjunct in both cases has the structure in (43).

(43)    

According to (43), the noun book has no complement, and the PP on the floor is an adjunct. The pro-form one substitutes for instances of N', just as do so substitutes for instances of V'. One substitutes for the higher N' in (42a), and for the lower N' in (42b).

As in the case of V', adjunction to N' can apply more than once, yielding multiply recursive structures like (44).

(44)    
Restrictions on one substitution. A cautionary note is in order about one substitution. Although in principle one can substitute for all instances of N', it is subject to two restrictions, which are important to keep in mind when using one substitution as a diagnostic for syntactic structure. The first, which makes some sense given its meaning, is that one can substitute only for count nouns, as illustrated in (45).

(45) a.   I have swum in this { ocean, pool, river, } and you have swum in that one.
b. * I have swum in this water, and you have swum in that one.

A second and more mysterious restriction is that one cannot immediately follow the indefinite article, a cardinal number, a possessive noun phrase, or, for many speakers, the plural demonstratives these and those. Whatever the exact source of this restriction is, it is very superficial, since an intervening word renders the ungrammatical (a) examples in (46)-(49) grammatical.4

(46) a. Indefinite article * I bought a book, and you bought a one, too.
b. I bought a blue book, and you bought a red one.
(47) a. Cardinal number * I bought { two , ten } books, and you bought { two, ten } ones, too.
b. I bought { two, ten } blue books, and you bought { two, ten } red ones.
(48) a. Possessive * I like { Mary's, her } book, and you like { John's, his } one.
b. I like { Mary's, her } blue shirt, and you like { Mary's, her } red one.
(49) a. Plural demonstrative * I like these books, and you like those ones.
b. I like these blue books, and you like those red ones.

Structural ambiguity. Having introduced N' as a possible target of modification, we are now in a position to associate structurally ambiguous sentences like (50) with two distinct syntactic representations.

(50)     They ate the pizza in the living room.

(50) has two interpretations, which can be paraphrased as in (51).

(51) a. Verbal modifier interpretation   It was in the living room that they ate the pizza (though the pizza may have started out elsewhere).
b. Nominal modifier interpretation   It was the pizza in the living room that they ate (though perhaps they took it and ate it elsewhere).

On the verbal modifier interpretation in (51a), the prepositional phrase in the living room modifies the verb ate, and (50) has the structure in (52a). On the nominal modifier interpretation in (51b), the prepositional phrase modifies the noun pizza, and the sentence has the structure in (52b).

(52) a.       b.  
Verbal modifier
High attachment
Nominal modifier
Low attachment

The structures in (52) are consistent with the results of relevant constituenthood tests. For instance, substituting the ordinary pronoun it for the pizza and substituting did so for ate the pizza yields (53a) and (53b), respectively.

(53) a.   They ate it in the living room.
b.   They did so in the living room.

In both sentences, the prepositional phrase is unambiguously interpreted as a verbal modifier, as expected given that the pizza and ate the pizza are represented as constituents in (52a), but not in (52b).

Conversely, in the question-answer pair in (54), the prepositional phrase is unambiguously associated with a nominal modifier interpretation. Again, this is expected, since the pizza in the living room is represented as a constituent in (52b), but not in (52a).

(54)     What did they eat? The pizza in the living room.

The complement-adjunct distinction in the nominal system. Given the semantic parallel between the sentence in (55a) and the noun phrase in (55b), it is reasonable to treat the of phrase in (55b) as a complement of the noun author.

(55) a. This man authors murder mysteries.
b. this author of murder mysteries

That is, the elementary tree for author needed to derive (55b) is as in (56a), and the structure for the entire noun phrase is (56b).

(56) a.       b.  

Since one is analogous to do so in substituting for intermediate rather than for lexical projections, we expect the contrast between (57) and (58), and this accurately reflects the judgment of many speakers.

(57) a.   This man authors murder mysteries, and that woman does so, too.
b. this author of murder mysteries and that one
(58) a. * This man authors murder mysteries, and that woman does so nature guides.
b. * this author of murder mysteries and that one of nature guides

Some speakers, however, accept (58b), or at least do not completely reject it. How can we make sense of this variation among speakers' judgments? Recall that complements of nouns, unlike those of verbs, are always expressed as prepositional phrases. This means that the evidence whether a particular phrase is a complement or an adjunct is murkier in the case of nouns than in the case of verbs, both for children acquiring the language and for adult speakers. A further, probably related, complication is that even nouns that are morphologically derived from obligatorily transitive verbs are themselves optionally intransitive (for instance, compare consume, destroy, employ with consumer, destroyer, employer). Moreover, the intransitive use of these nouns might be more frequent than their transitive use. As a result, the mental grammar of some speakers might include only the intransitive elementary tree in (59a), and not the transitive elementary tree in (56a). Such speakers would have no way of deriving the structure in (56b), but they would be able to derive the alternative structure in (59b) by adjoining the of phrase, rather than by substituting it.

(59) a.       b.  

For such speakers, author in (58b) would be an N', rather than an N, and so they would accept (58b) rather than rejecting it as ungrammatical.

Notice furthermore that the intransitive elementary tree in (59a) is available even for speakers whose mental grammar includes the transitive elementary tree in (56a), since all speakers of English accept (60).

(60)     this author and that one

If some of these speakers allow the of phrase to adjoin into the intransitive elementary tree in addition to substituting into the transitive one, then they, too, would judge (58b) to be acceptable (at least marginally so).

Adjective phrases

In this section, we discuss the structure of adjective phrases, beginning with examples like those in (62) and (63), where the prepositional phrase following the adjective is optional.

(62) a.   They are proud.
b. They are proud of their grandson.
(63) a. They are happy.
b. They are happy with their car.

Recall from Chapter 2 that the pro-form so substitutes for adjective phrases. More specifically, examples like those in (64) and (65) allow us to conclude that the of phrase is a complement of proud in (64), but that the with phrase is an adjunct of happy in (65).

(64) a.   They are proud, and we are so, too.
b. They are proud of their grandson, and we are so, too.
c. * They are proud of their grandson, and we are so of him, too.
(65) a. They are happy, and we are so, too.
b. They are happy with their car, and we are so, too.
c. They are happy with their car, and we are so with our bikes.

We can represent these facts by associating the two adjectives with the elementary trees in (66) and by stating that so substitutes for instances of A'.

(66) a.       b.       c.  

Most adjectives in English, like the two just discussed, are optionally or obligatorily intransitive. A rare case of an obligatorily transitive adjective is fond.5 The contrast in (67) is evidence for the complement status of the of phrase (recall from Chapter 4 that obligatory syntactic dependents are complements), and that status is confirmed by the results of so substitution.

(67) a. * They are fond.
b. They are fond of their grandson.
(68) a. They are fond of their grandson, and we are so, too.
b. * They are fond of their grandson, and we are so of him, too.

In view of the facts in (67) and (68), fond is associated with the single elementary tree in (69).

(69)    

Prepositional phrases

The syntactic category P corresponds closely to the traditional part of speech of preposition, but is not identical to it. We address two differences between the syntactic category and the traditional part of speech in the next two subsections.

Following standard usage in the syntax literature, we sometimes use the term 'preposition' to refer to the syntactic category P in contexts where the difference is either clear or immaterial.

Transitivity

The etymology of the term 'preposition' (< Latin prae 'before' and positio 'position') implies that all prepositions should precede a complement, and English does in fact have a number of obligatorily transitive Ps, some of which are illustrated in (70).
The asterisk outside the parenthesized material is a conventional way of indicating that the parenthesized material is obligatory.

(70) a.   They drove from *(Boston).
b. He's the inventor of *(that gizmo).
c. She dove into *(the water).
d. They jumped onto *(the bandwagon).

But X' theory leads us to expect that there should also be intransitive Ps, and as the examples in (71) show, this expectation is fulfilled.

(71) a.   I've never seen him before (this meeting).
b. Are you for (the proposal) or against (it)?
c. The bird flew { in, out } (the window).
d. It's time to get { off, on } (the train).
e. They jumped over (the ditch).
f. We've been fast friends ever since (that time).
g. She came to (her senses).
h. Have you looked underneath (the sombrero)?

In traditional grammar, Ps that are used intransitively are known as adverbs or particles, rather than as prepositions, but this terminology goes against the spirit of X' theory, which seeks to maximize the parallels among categories. From our point of view, there is as little reason for the syntactic category of a lexical item to depend on its transitivity in the case of a P like since as there is in the case of a V like eat. In both cases, the intransitive variant has a semantic argument that is not expressed in the syntax, but is supplied in the course of interpretation, based on the discourse context.

The elementary trees for of and over are shown in (72), and the full structures for the PPs headed by them in (70) and (71) are shown in (73). Note the identity of (72c) and (73c).

(72) a.       b.       c.  
(73) a.       b.       c.  

Clausal complements of prepositions

As we saw in
Chapter 4, verbs can take either noun phrase complements or clausal complements. (74) gives a further example.

(74) a. He reported the monkey's dislike of camphor.
b. He reported that the monkey dislikes camphor.

The examples of transitive Ps discussed so far have all had noun phrase complements, but given the parallel between verbs and prepositions concerning transitivity, we might expect Ps to allow clausal complements as well. Once again, this expectation is borne out, as shown in (75).

(75) a.   Noun phrase complement: { after, before, since } the war
b. Clausal complement: { after, before, since } the war ended

In traditional grammar, Ps that take clausal complements are classified as subordinating conjunctions (along with if and that), but as in the case of intransitive Ps, we again reject the traditional approach. First, it is conceptually uneconomical. Specifically, it expresses the difference between (75a) and (75b) in terms of the syntactic category of the heads (preposition vs. subordinating conjunction), which redundantly encodes the difference in the syntactic category of the complement (noun phrase vs. clause). Second, the items in (75) share roughly the same semantic content, regardless of the categorial status of their complement. In contrast, if and that are relatively contentless and give the impression of functioning purely as 'grammatical glue.' In the approach that we are advocating, the contentful and contentless subordinating conjunctions belong to different syntactic categories (P and C, respectively).

We have not yet said what syntactic category clausal complements of prepositions belong to. At first glance, examples like (75b) suggest that the answer to this question is IP. The elementary tree for after in (75b) would then be as in (76), and the elementary trees for before and since would be analogous.

(76)    

There is good reason to believe, however, that clausal complements (specifically, finite clausal complements) of P are CPs rather than IPs. As illustrated in (77a), the clausal complement of after and prepositions like it would be headed by a silent counterpart of the complementizer that, resulting in (77b) as the structure for after the war ended (for simplicity, the internal structure of IP is omitted).

(77) a.       b.  

There are a number of empirical arguments for preferring the elementary tree in (77a) over the one in (76). First, at least one preposition in English allows - indeed, requires - CP complements headed by an overt complementizer, as shown in (78).

(78)     They differ in *(that) they hold sharply opposing views on educational reform.

A second reason for preferring (77a) over (76) is that sentences like (79), with an overt complementizer, occurred freely in Middle English (and are still acceptable for some speakers of Modern English). Some examples are given in (80).

The thorn character (þ) was borrowed from Old Norse and used in Old and Middle English where we use 'th' today. It is still used in Icelandic. The yogh character (ȝ) was used in Middle English where we use 'g' or 'y'.

(79)   * { after, before, since } that the war ended
(80) a. And after þat þis bataile was done, þe Britons assemblede ham, and went þens
'and after this battle was over, the Britons assembled (themselves)' (PPCME2, cmbrut3,100.3080)
b. Ȝit bifore that Dauith cam to Jerusalem, a new debate roos bitwixe the men of Israel and the men of Juda
'Yet before David came to Jerusalem, a new debate arose between the men of Israel and the men of Juda' (PPCME2, cmpurvey,I,11.415)
c. Now, sith that i have toold yow of which folk ye sholde been conseilled, now wol I teche yow which conseil ye oghte to eschewe.
'Now, since I have told you what kind of people you should be counseled by, now I will teach you which advice you ought to eschew' (PPCME2, cmctmeli,223.C1.247)

Finally, analyzing clausal complements of prepositions as CPs allows us to treat prepositions in English in the same way as prepositions in other languages such as French, where it is clear that the clausal complements are CP complements.6

(81) a.  
{ après, depuis, pendant } la  danse
  after  since   during    the dance
'{ after, since, during } the dance'
b.
{ après, depuis } que  Jean a   dansé; pendant que  Jean dansait
  after  since    that Jean has danced while   that Jean was.dancing
'{ after, since } Jean danced; while Jean danced'
c. *
{ après, depuis } Jean a dansé; pendant Jean dansait

In addition to these three empirical arguments, there are also conceptual reasons to analyze finite clausal complements of prepositions as CPs rather than IPs. An IP analysis would force us to complicate the theory of case checking that we present in Chapter 8 as well as the theory of wh- movement that we present in Chapter 11 and subsequent chapters.

Crosslinguistic variation in headedness

As illustrated in (82)-(88), heads in English precede their complements, and English is therefore said to be a head-initial language. The headedness of a language (or of a category or lexical item) always refers to the order of heads and complements. In other words, headedness is determined with respect to the intermediate projection of elementary trees, not with respect to the maximal projection. For instance, English determiners can be medial in their maximal projection (the possessive morpheme 's must be preceded by a DP in Spec(DP)), and English verbs and modals must be medial in their maximal projections, but they all count as head-initial because they are the leftmost elements in the intermediate projections of their elementary trees.

(82) a. V   They [V' pursued [DP their goal. ] ]
b. She [V' submitted [DP her application. ] ]
(83) a. I   They [I' should [VP pursue their goal. ] ]
b. She [I' could [VP submit her application. ] ]
(84) a. C   They agreed [C' that [IP they should pursue their goal. ] ]
b. She wondered [C' if [I' she could submit her application. ] ]
(85) a. N the [N' pursuit [PP of their goal ] ]
b. the [N' submission [ PP of her application ] ]
c. Lisa's [N' pride [PP in her work ] ]
(86) a. D [D' the [NP pursuit of their goal ] ]
b. [D' the [NP submission of her application ] ]
c. Lisa [D' 's [NP pride in her work ] ]
(87) a. A She is [A' proud [PP of her work. ] ]
b. He is [A' fond [PP of his children. ] ]
(88) a. P [P' over [DP the next five years ] ]
b. [P' with [DP great fanfare ] ]

But universal grammar by no means prescribes head-initial phrase structure. Rather, many languages exhibit consistently head-final phrase structure; two such languages are Japanese and Korean. The examples in (89)-(93) are from Korean. In order to avoid using 'head-final preposition,' which is an etymological contradiction in terms, linguists have coined the term postposition for the Ps in (93). The term adposition is a cover term for prepositions and postpositions (that is, for Ps regardless of headedness). Examples for I and D are missing because Korean has neither overt modals of the English sort nor overt articles; the abbreviations in the glosses are explained in the notes,7 but are not crucial for present purposes.

(89) a. V  
kutul-un [V' [DP mokcek-ul ] chukwuha-yess-ta. ]
they-Top         goal-Acc   pursue-Past-Decl
'They pursued their goal.'
b.
ku-nun [V' [DP ciwonse-lul ]   ceychwulha-yess-ta. ]
3.ps.sg-Top   application-Acc submit-Past-Decl
'He submitted his application.'
(90) a. C
[C' [IP kutul-un  mokcek-ul chukwuhayya ha-n ]    tako ] tonguyha-yess-ta.
        they-Top goal-Acc   pursue      must-Pres that   agree-Past-Decl
'They agreed that they should pursue their goal.'
b.
[C' [IP ku-nun       ciwonse-lul     ceychwulhayto toy ]   nunci ] kwungkumha-yess-ta.
        3.ps.sg-Top application-Acc submit        be-able if       wonder-Past-Decl
'He wondered if he could submit his application.'
(91) a. N  
kutul-uy [N' [DP mocek-uy ] chukwu ]
they-Gen         goal-Gen   pursuit
'their pursuit of their goal'
b.
ku-uy [N' [DP ciwonse-uy ]    ceychwul ]
3.ps.sg-Gen   application-Gen submission
'his submission of his application'
c.
Lisa-uy [N' [PP il-ey   tayhan ]  capwusim ]
Lisa-Gen       work-in regarding pride
'Lisa's pride in her work'
(92) a. A
[A' [DP il-i     ] calangsule-un ] saram
        work-Nom   proud-Mod       man
'a man proud of his work'
b.
[A [DP aitul-i  ]   coh-un ] saram
       children-Nom fond-Mod man
'a man fond of his children'
(93) a. P  
[P' [DP taum o    nyen ] tongan ]
        next five years  over
'over the next five years'
b.
[P' [DP tay phanphalay-wa ] hamkkey ]
        big fanfare-with    with
'with big fanfare'

Languages tend to be harmonic with respect to headedness; that is, they tend to be consistently head-initial or head-final. However, in certain languages, some syntactic categories project head-initial trees and others project head-final ones. Such mixed phrase structure is found, for instance, in Dutch and German. The examples in (94)-(99) are from German; the reason that they are all subordinate clauses is that main clauses in German (and Dutch) involve a complication that obscures the position of finite verbs (see Chapter 14). As the examples show, V and A are head-final in German, whereas C, N, D, and P are head-initial. I is missing from the examples because German lacks modals of the English type, so that there is no conclusive evidence for the position of I.

(94) a. V  
dass sie [V' [DP ihr   Ziel ] verfolgten ]
that they        their goal  pursued
'that they pursued their goal'
b.
ob sie [V' [DP ihre Bewerbung ] einreichte ]
if she         her  application submitted
'if she submitted her application'
(95) a. A  
[A' [DP seinen Prinzipien ]    treu ]
        his    principles-Dat loyal
'loyal to this principles'
b.
[A' [PP auf seine Kinder ] stolz ]
        on  his   children proud
'proud of his children'
(96) a. C  
[C' dass [IP sie  ihr   Ziel verfolgten ] ]
    that    they their goal pursued
'that they pursued their goal'
b.
[C' ob [IP sie ihre Bewerbung   einreichte ] ]
    if     she her  application submitted
'if she submitted her application'
(97) a. N  
die [N' Verfolgung [DP ihres     Ziels ] ]
the     pursuit        their-Gen goal-Gen
'the pursuit of their goal'
b.
diese [N' Treue [PP zu seinen Prinzipien ] ]
this      loyalty   to his    principles
'this loyalty to his principles'
(98) a. D  
[D' die [NP Verfolgung ihres     Ziels ] ]
    the     pursuit    their-Gen goal-Gen
'the pursuit of their goal'
b.
[D' diese [NP Treue   zu seinen Prinzipien ] ]
    this      loyalty to his    principles
'this loyalty to his principles'
(99) a. P  
[P' über [DP die nächsten fünf Jahre ] ]
    over     the next     five years
'over the next five years'
b.
[P' mit [DP grossem Trara ] ]
    with    great  fanfare
'with great fanfare'

To complicate matters yet further, German allows postpositions, as in (100).

(100)    
[P' [DP den Fluss ] entlang ]
        the river   along
'along the river'

And finally, to really liven things up, certain adpositions in Dutch and German can either precede or follow their complements. This is illustrated in (101) and (102), again for German; the (a) and (b) examples share the same meaning.

(101) a.  
[P' wegen [DP  des Wetters ] ]
    because.of the weather
    'because of the weather'
b. [P' [DP des Wetters ] wegen ]
(102) a.  
[P' gegenüber [DP der Kirche ] ]
    across.from    the church
'across from the church'
b. [P' [DP der Kirche ] gegenüber ]

Dutch, too, allows such variation between head-initial and head-final adpositions, and in that language, it is even accompanied by a systematic meaning difference. Specifically, when adpositions with variable headedness are postpositions, their meaning is always directional, but when they are prepositions, their meaning is generally locative. This is illustrated in (103) and (104) (Kroch 1994).

(103) a.  
Ik fiets in de straat.
I  bike  in the street
'I ride my bike in the street.' (locative)
b.  
Ik fiets de  straat in.
I  bike  the street in
'I ride my bike into the street.' (directional)
(104) a.  
Ik klim  in de  boom.
I  climb in the tree
'I climb in the tree.' (locative)
'I climb into the tree.' (directional)
b.  
Ik klim  de  boom in.
I  climb the tree in
'I climb into the tree.' (only directional)

In case the German and Dutch examples just discussed sound exotic, it is worth noting that English sports two postpositions of its own, as illustrated in (105).8

(105) a.   They searched the whole world over.
b. They work the whole week through.

In conclusion, we note that it is not uncommon for languages to undergo phrase structure change. For instance, the phrase structure of Old English (ca. 800-ca. 1100 C.E.) is reminiscent of that of modern German and Dutch; in particular, verbs were head-final for most of the Old English period. (The three languages are closely related historically, so the syntactic similarity is not surprising.) The first instances of verb-initial phrase structure appeared in late Old English. Early Middle English was characterized by rampantly variable headedness in the verb phrase (Kroch and Taylor 2000b), but by ca. 1350, the change from head-final to head-initial verb phrases was essentially complete in all dialects of Middle English. Since Chaucer lived from 1342 to 1400, his language is already modern in this respect, though his syntax differs quite strikingly from that of the modern language in other ways, as we will discuss in later chapters. In the modern language, only isolated relics of the old verb-final phrase structure survive, like the saying Indictments do not a conviction make.9


Notes

1. It is not just the expression of agent arguments that is freer in noun phrases than in sentences. As the contrast between (i) and (ii) shows, the same is true of theme arguments.

(i) a.   The mills employed thousands; their practices damaged the environment.
b. * The mills employed; their practices damaged.
(ii) a.   an employer of thousands; the damage to the environment
b. an employer; the damage

2. Notice also the related contrast in (i); the construction in (i.a) is discussed in Chapter 9.

(i) a. The manuscript appears to have been found.
b. * the manuscript's appearance to have been found

3. For expository convenience, we show the possessive morpheme 's in D. In possessive pronouns, however, 's is absent, showing that it is necessary to posit a silent possessive morpheme in English. This silent morpheme combines with person and number features (first person singular, first person plural, and so on), and the resulting combination is then spelled out as the appropriate possessive pronoun (my, our, and so on).

The abstract possessive head just introduced makes available an alternative analysis for ordinary possessive noun phrases like the the committee's than the one in (17). Under this alternative analysis, D contains the silent possessive head rather than 's, and the possessive form the committee's represents the spellout of the noun phrase in Spec(DP) and the silent possessive morpheme. In other words, under this analysis, the possessive marker 's is introduced in the mapping from syntax to morphology, rather than in the syntax proper. For expository simplicity, we will show an analysis with overt 's whenever possible, even though we are not theoretically committed to it.

4. More evidence for the idiosyncratic character of the constraint against (52a) comes from the acceptability of (i) (at least in formal registers) (thanks for Sonali Mishra for drawing the example to our attention).

(i)     such a one

5. Strictly speaking, this statement is true only of fond in predicative position, not in prenominal position.

(i) a. Predicative: * Their parents are fond.
b. Prenominal: ok their fond parents

6. In (81), some French speakers prefer or require the subjunctive form of the auxiliary (ait) rather than the indicative form (a). For present purposes, this variation, which is comparable to that found in English between If I was a rich man and If I were a rich man, is irrelevant.

7. Acc = accusative (case of direct object), Gen = genitive (possessive case), Decl = declarative clause, Mod = modifier, Pres = present tense, ps = person, sg = singular, Top = topic of sentence.

8. A further apparent instance of a postposition in English is ago. We address the proper analysis of ago in Exercise 7.8.

9. Cf. the parallel token in (i).

(i)     There had appeared to him something rather fine in his policy of refusing to identify himself in any way with Sedleigh, a touch of the stone-walls-do-not-a-prison-make sort of thing.
(P.G. Wodehouse. 1974. The world of Psmith. London: Barrie & Jenkins. 114.)

10. Many thanks to Amy Forsyth for example (1) in Exercise 5.8.


Exercises and problems

Be sure to use the grammar tools for this chapter, not the versions of them from the previous chapter.

Exercise 5.1

What is the syntactic difference between standard and nonstandard them?

(1)     This is definitely one of them jobs, man, if you're one of them worriers …
(Overheard at a lunch truck on the southwest corner of 34th Street and Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA, 31 August 1999)

Exercise 5.2

A. Formally, the structures in (1) are consistent with X' theory. Empirically, however, they are unsatisfactory representations because they are inconsistent with certain linguistic judgments. What are the judgments in question?

In your answer, you should feel free to substitute other determiners for the and singular for plural nouns.

(1) a.       b.

B. The representation in (2) violates X' theory. In addition, (2) doesn't properly represent the constituenthood of one or more strings in the sentence. Using appropriate substitution tests, identify all the strings in question. Your answer should include the strings as well as the evidence that you used to make your decision.

The sentence in (2) is structurally ambiguous. Disregard the ambiguity, and focus on the ordinary interpretation of the sentence.

(2)    

Exercise 5.3

This exercise assumes that you are familiar with the distinction between noun complement clauses and that relative clauses. If not, please refer to the information at the end of the exercise.

A. Subordinate clauses of the type illustrated in (1) are traditionally called noun complement clauses.

(1) a.   The idea that Columbus was the first European to discover America is incorrect.
b. The fact that they are wrong is lost on them.

Are such clauses syntactic arguments of the noun in boldface, or are they adjuncts? In other words, given the way that the term 'complement' is used in X' theory, is the term 'noun complement clause' for these clauses a misnomer, or not? Explain, giving the linguistic facts that you base your decision on.

B. Are relative clauses, illustrated in (2), arguments or adjuncts of the noun they modify? Explain.

(2) a.   The idea that Columbus was working with was incorrect.
b. The fact that they have discovered is important.

Here are two diagnostics for distinguishing noun complement clauses from that relative clauses. First, stripping away the complementizer that leaves a complete sentence in the case of a noun complement clause, but something incomplete in the case of a relative clause (it feels like there is a gap, as indicated by the underlining).

(i) a.   Columbus was the first European to discover America.
b. They are wrong.
(ii) a. * Columbus was working with ___.
b. * They have discovered ___.

Second, the complementizer that can generally be replaced by a wh- word in a relative clause, but never in a noun complement clause.

(iii) a. * The idea which Columbus was the first European to discover America is incorrect.
b. * The fact which they are wrong is lost on them.
(iv) a.   The idea which Columbus was working with was incorrect.
b. The fact which they have discovered is important.

Exercise 5.4

A. Using the grammar tool in x-bar ch5, build trees for the (a) examples in (1)-(3).

Don't build structures for the examples after (a); they are only provided to provide guidance concerning the intended interpretation and structure for the (a) examples.

(1) a.   the monster's mother's lair
b.   the monster
c.   the monster's mother
(2) a.   the hero of the poem's name
b.   the hero
c.   the hero of the poem
(3) a.   the mother of the monster's dislike of the poem's hero
b.   the monster
c.   the mother of the monster
d.   the poem
e.   the poem's hero

B. Using the same grammar tool, build structures for the noun phrases in (4).

(4) a.   yesterday's lecture
b.   this week's unseasonably high temperatures

Exercise 5.5

A. Can you think of obligatorily transitive adjectives other than fond?

B. Can you think of plausible candidates for obligatorily intransitive prepositions?

Exercise 5.6

A. What is the syntactic difference between the prepositions in (1a) and (1b)? You should be able to answer in a sentence or two.

The exercise calls for a syntactic difference, so don't give a semantic difference as your answer.

(1) a.   at, despite, during, of
b. along, besides, between, by, plus, under

B. Does with belong with the prepositions in (1a) or in (1b)? Explain. (For fun, you might ask a few of your friends whether they agree with you. Make sure to pick native speakers of English.)

Exercise 5.7

As first mentioned in Chapter 1, human language is characterized by structural ambiguity. For instance, the noun phrase in (1) has two distinct interpretations, which can be paraphrased as in (2).

(1)     the houses on the corner with a sign
(2) a. the houses on the corner that have a sign
b. the houses on the corner that has a sign

A. Using the grammar tool in x-bar ch5, build two distinct structures for the noun phrase in (1), and indicate which structure goes with which interpretation in (2).

B. Give paraphrases for the two interpretations available for (3), and use the grammar tool to build the structures corresponding to them, indicating which structure(s) goes with which interpretation.

(3)     I enthusiastically recommend this candidate with no qualifications.

Exercise 5.8

A. The sentences in (1) and (2) are many-ways ambiguous (don't assume that they have the same number of interpretations).10 Find as many interpretations as you can, clearly describing the relevant situations you have in mind (see (3) and (4) for model descriptions). Using the grammar tool in x-bar ch5, build trees for each interpretation you find, clearly indicating which tree is associated with which interpretation.

(1)     The officer poked the man with the gun in the car.
(2)     The trainer tapped the seal with the ball on its nose.

B. Many-ways ambiguous though (1) is, it cannot be used to describe the situation in (3). Why not?

(3)     There is a car, and inside it is a man. Outside the car is an officer, who uses the gun to poke the man.

C. Many-ways ambiguous though (2) is, it cannot be used to describe the situation in (4). Why not?

(4)     There is a seal balancing on its nose, and the trainer taps the seal with a ball.

Exercise 5.9

Recall the syntactically ambiguous expressions from
Exercise 1.6, repeated here in (1). Relying on your more sophisticated knowledge of phrase structure, use the grammar tool in x-bar ch5 to build structures for each possible interpretation of the expressions. Indicate clearly which interpretation each structure is intended to represent.

If you encounter difficulties, briefly describe them and implement a solution if you can.

(1a) is trickier than it seems.

(1) a. chocolate cake icing
b. clever boys and girls
c. John will answer the question precisely at noon.
d.   Watch the man from across the street.
e. They should decide if they will come tomorrow.

Exercise 5.10

As noted at the end of this chapter, English has undergone a phrase structure change in the course of its history. In early Old English, V and I were both consistently
head-final. Over the course of Old English, I became head-initial. In other words, in addition to old structures in which I followed VP, new ones became available in which I preceded VP. By the beginning of Middle English (about 1100), I had become exclusively head-initial, but V continued to be variably head-final or head-initial. Finally, by about 1350, V had become consistently head-initial.

Given this historical sketch, use the grammar tool in variable headedness 2 to build trees for all of the phrase structure variants of (1) that were possible during the course of the history of English. (For the non-modern stages, simply use modern vocabulary items, but arranged according to the relevant parameter settings.)

For simplicity, the grammar tool for this exercise implements a grammar in which the nouns in the sentences below are not associated with any arguments. Your mental grammar probably agrees with the grammar that is implemented in the grammar tool, but don't worry if it doesn't. The focus of the exercise isn't on the internal structure of the noun phrases.

Click here for discussion concerning the representation of proper nouns.

Once you've given the internal structure of a noun phrase for one historical stage, you don't have to repeat it for the other two.

(1) a.   Beowulf will slay Grendel.
b.   The hero will slay the monster.
c.   The hero of the poem will slay the monster's mother.

Exercise 5.11

A. What is the syntactic category of hiring in (1a) and (1b)? Explain.

(1) a.   Kim's impulsive hiring of incompetents is damaging the company.
b.   Kim's impulsively hiring incompetents is damaging the company.

B. Using the grammar tool in x-bar ch5, build structures for the underlined gerund phrases in (1). (You don't have to build the structure for the entire sentence.)

Exercise 5.12

Using the grammar tool in x-bar ch5, build structures for the sentences in (1). For simplicity, you can build subtrees, and indicate how they would fit together.

(1) a.   The students will solve the problem, though it is difficult.
b.   The students will solve the problem, though we acknowledge that it is difficult.

Problem 5.1

If a given string is structurally ambiguous (that is, it has more than possible structural representation), is it necessarily associated with more than one meaning? Explain, giving examples.

Hint: Think carefully about Exercise 5.7, B.

Problem 5.2

For all speakers of English, the sentence in (1) can have either of the interpretations in (2).

(1)   Jane has a big black dog, and Jean has a small one.
(2) a. Jane has a big black dog, and Jean has a small dog.
b. Jane has a big black dog, and Jean has a small black dog.

On the other hand, (3) means only (4a) for most speakers of English. However, some speakers are able to interpret (3) as (4b) (Radford 1988) (such variable judgments among different speakers are conventionally indicated by a percent sign).

(3)   Jane has a big black dog, and Jean has a brown one.
(4) a. Jane has a big black dog, and Jean has a brown dog.
b. % Jane has a big black dog, and Jean has a big brown dog.

A. Which of the interpretations of (1) and (3) is problematic? Explain.

B. Can you think of a way of resolving the problem you laid out in your answer to (A)?

Problem 5.3

The structures in (1) are intended to represent the second conjunct in (2).

(1) a.       b.       c.  
(2)     the book on the table, and that on the shelf

Discuss the relative merits of the three structures in (1). In other words, what considerations (whether empirical or conceptual) make each of the structures attractive or unattractive?

Problem 5.4

In (53) of Chapter 1, we mentioned an alternative approach to noun phrase structure than the one presented in this chapter. According to the alternative approach (updated to be in accordance with the X' schema), all determiners are intransitive, and all nouns have substitution nodes in the specifier position for (possibly silent) determiners, as shown in (1).

(1) a.       b.  

Discuss the relative merits of this approach compared to the one presented in the text. In other words, what considerations (whether empirical or conceptual) would make one adopt or reject this alternative approach to noun phrase structure? Assume that N can be intransitive, as in (1b), but that it can also take complements (to account for expressions like criticism of the proposal).