7 VP shells

Old version (Fall 2006) - current version here


In Chapter 4, we briefly mentioned the binary-branching hypothesis - the idea that syntactic nodes have at most two daughters. At first glance, this hypothesis seems incompatible with the existence of double-object sentences in natural language, illustrated for English in (1).

(1)     Travis will give Betsey the receipts.

In such sentences, the verb appears to be associated with three semantic arguments (agent, recipient, theme), and it looks like the recipient (Betsey) and the theme (the receipts) both need to be represented as complements of the verb.1 In this chapter, we present a proposal for how to make double-object sentences consistent with the binary-branching hypothesis. The proposal hinges on the fact that ditransitive verbs like give can be semantically decomposed into a causative part and a remainder whose meaning differs according to the verb in question. Some examples are shown in (2).

(2)   feed = cause to eat
  give " get
  lend " get (temporarily)
  show " see
  teach " learn

The decomposability of the verbs in (2) suggests deriving sentences like (1) from schematic structures like (3), where the uppercase predicates CAUSE and GET indicate abstract verbal heads.

(3)    

The structure in (3) accommodates the same three arguments as the original sentence in (1), but since there are now two heads, neither of them needs to be associated with more than one complement - exactly as required by the binary-branching hypothesis. Because one VP is embedded directly under another, structures like (3) are known as VP shells.2

In order to motivate the VP shell treatment of double-object sentences, we begin by discussing ordinary causative sentences (ordinary in the sense that the causative verb is overt). After showing that causative verbs take a VP small clause complement, we present some striking parallels between causative sentences and double-object sentences in Japanese.

Strictly speaking, according to the VP shell analysis, there are neither ditransitive verbs nor double-object sentences. However, these terms are so well established that we will continue to use them for expository convenience. We will use the term 'ditransitive verb' to refer to verbs that are associated with three semantic arguments, and the term 'double-object sentence' to refer to sentences containing a ditransitive verb and two DPs bearing the thematic roles of recipient and theme.

We then turn to the details of the structure in (3); in particular, we propose that the lower verbal head adjoins to the higher one, yielding a complex verb that is spelled out depending on the content of the lower head. This extends an idea already introduced in Chapter 6, where we said that the combination of sing and past is spelled out as sang. In a similar way, we are saying here that, for instance, the combination of CAUSE and GET is spelled out as a form of give.

Having presented the core components of the VP shell analysis, we extend it to cover several other important cases in English. We first consider the variant of (1) given in (4), where the order of the recipient and theme arguments is reversed and the recipient argument is expressed by a PP rather than a DP.

(4)     Travis will give the receipts to Betsey.

We will refer to DP-PP sentences like (4) as double-complement sentences. Again, we use this term strictly for expository convenience, and not in order to imply a ternary-branching structure.

We then discuss the ditransitive verbs put and persuade as well as verbs that participate in the causative alternation illustrated in (5).

(5) a.   The ball dropped.
b.   The children dropped the ball.

The final section of the chapter addresses two issues related to VP shells. The first issue arises in connection with a proposed constraint on idioms according to which they must be constituents. At first glance, idioms like give someone the creeps and throw someone to the wolves violate this constraint because they appear to be discontinuous. However, just as the VP shell analysis allows us to maintain the binary-branching hypothesis in the face of double-object and double-complement structures like (1) and (4), so, too, does it allow us to maintain the structural constraint on idioms in the face of apparently discontinuous idioms. The second issue concerns small clauses. Having motivated the VP shell analysis with reference to causative small clauses, we conclude the chapter with a discussion of the structure of small clauses more generally.

Double-object sentences

The structure of ordinary causative sentences

We begin our exploration of VP shells by considering ordinary causative sentences like the one in (6), where the semantic notion of CAUSE is overtly expressed by the verb let.

(6)     God let there be light.

Recall from Chapter 3 that expletive there must be licensed as the subject of a verb of existence (be in (6)). It follows from this that the sequence there be light forms a small clause, a minimal instance of predication (minimal because unlike an ordinary clause, it doesn't contain any overt I element). It is this small clause that serves as the complement of let, as shown in (7).

(7) a.       b.  

The treatment of there be light as a constituent is motivated not only in syntactic terms (with reference to the licensing requirement on expletive there), but also by the intuition that let takes two semantic arguments, an agent (expressed by the matrix subject) and a situation (expressed by the small clause).

A related piece of evidence that causatives like let takes small clause complements comes from sentences like (8).

(8)     John let it slip that the president's schedule had changed.

The it in (8) is the expletive it discussed in Chapter 3, which is associated with that clauses. Like expletive there, expletive it must be a subject, and therefore the sequence it slip that ... must be a small clause.

Parallels between causative sentences and double-object sentences

In certain languages, causative sentences and double-object sentences exhibit unusual parallels. One such language is Japanese, where the case-marking of arguments is strikingly similar in both sentence types. Case is discussed in more detail in the next chapter, but all that is important for present purposes is that different case particles in Japanese preferentially mark certain grammatical relations. Specifically, subjects are generally marked with the case particle -ga, as distinct from direct objects, which are marked with the particle -o.3

(9) a.  
Taroo-ga  hasit-ta   koto
      nom run   past that
'(the fact) that Taroo ran'
b.  
Taroo-ga  ringo-o   tabe- ta   koto
      nom apple acc eat   past that
'(the fact) that Taroo ate an apple'

Embedding a sentence under a causative verb has the following effects on case marking. When the complement sentence is intransitive, the matrix subject is marked with -ga, as usual, but the subject of the complement clause is marked with -o, as shown in (10). (This is analogous to what happens in English in They ran and We made them run.)

As the hyphens indicate, the causative verb -(s)ase is a bound morpheme. We return to this fact shortly.

(10)    
Hanako-ga  Taroo-o   hasir-ase- ta   koto
       nom       acc run   caus past that
'(the fact) that Hanako made Taroo run'

Given (10), one might expect embedding a transitive sentence under a causative to lead to the case-marking pattern in (11). The object of the lower clause is expected to be marked with -o because it is an object (as in (9b)), and the subject of the lower clause is expected to be marked with -o, too, by analogy to (10). (Again, this would be analogous to what happens in English in They chased him and We made them chase him.)

(11)   *
Hanako-ga  Taroo-o   ringo-o   tabe-sase-ta   koto
       nom       acc apple acc eat  caus past that 
Intended meaning: '(the fact) that Hanako made Taroo eat an apple'

As it turns out, however, the case-marking pattern in (11) is ungrammatical, violating what is known in the Japanese syntax literature as the double -o constraint, which prohibits the occurrence of more than one -o-marked noun phrase per sentence. Rather, when a transitive sentence is embedded under a causative verb, the subject of the lower clause must be marked with a distinct case marker -ni.

(12)   ok
Hanako-ga  Taroo-ni  ringo-o   tabe-sase-ta   koto
       nom       dat apple acc eat  caus past that 
'(the fact) that Hanako made Taroo eat an apple'

What is of interest to us now is that the -ga -ni -o case-marking pattern in (12) recurs in double-object sentences, as shown in (13a). We underline the parallel by paraphrasing (13a) with the ordinary causative construction in (13b).

(13) a.  
Hanako-ga  Taroo-ni  hon- o   mise- ta   koto
       nom     dat   book acc show  past that
'(the fact) that Hanako showed Taroo a book'
b.  
Hanako-ga  Taroo-ni  hon- o   mi-  sase- ta   koto
       nom     dat   book acc see  caus past that
'(the fact) that Hanako made Taroo see the book'

The identical case-marking pattern is exactly what the VP shell proposal leads us to expect, since the relevant structures, given in (14), are analogous. (Bear in mind that the combination of the abstract morphemes MIRU 'see' and -(S)ASE in (14a) is spelled out as a form of miseru 'show'.)

For expository clarity, the structures presented in this chapter generally omit the projections of I and C that would be involved in a complete derivation of the sentences under discussion.

(14) a.       b.  

Abstract verb movement

The Japanese causative exhibits a further property that is important for the VP shell analysis. Unlike the English verb let, Japanese -(s)ase is a bound morpheme. As they stand, therefore, the VP shells in (14) are not yet grammatical. The missing step is for the verb of the lower VP to adjoin to the causative morpheme. This V-to-V movement is motivated by the same considerations as the V-to-I movement discussed for French in Chapter 6; in both cases, a verb moves up the tree in order to "support" a bound morpheme. The result for (14b) is shown in (15).

(15)    

In view of the semantic and case-marking parallels between causative and double-object sentences, it makes sense to extend the overt verb movement in (15) to the double-object case. In other words, we will assume that verb movement applies to (14a), just as it does to (14b), yielding (16) as the final VP shell for (13a).

(16)    

Finally, we assume that the VP shells for English double-object verbs are analogous to the ones that we have just motivated for Japanese. (17) shows the VP shell structures, before and after verb movement, that we are assuming for the English counterpart of (13a). From a structural point of view, the only difference between the Japanese structures and their English counterparts is the direction in which V takes phrasal complements.

(17) a.       b.  

Why do we continue to left-adjoin SEE to CAUSE in English? The reason is that we are treating CAUSE by analogy to a suffix like -ify (cf. magn-ify, not *ify-magn).

(18) gives the VP shell for our original English double-object sentence in (1), both before and after abstract verb movement, and (19) gives the structure for the entire sentence.

(18) a.       b.  
(19)    

Double-complement sentences

Give and send

Many double-object sentences have a double-complement counterpart in which the order of the recipient (red) and theme (blue) arguments is reversed and the recipient is expressed as a PP rather than a DP.

(20) a.   Travis gave Betsey the receipts.
b.   Travis gave the receipts to Betsey.

At first glance, double-complement sentences seem to be completely synonymous with their double-object counterparts and to stand in a one-to-one correspondence with them. Indeed, early on in generative grammar, it was held that any double-complement sentence could be transformed into a double-object sentence by an operation that was known as Dative Shift (recall that the recipient argument is marked by a dative particle in Japanese). Certain subtle semantic restrictions on the two sentence types have been observed, however, that have led this view to be abandoned (Green 1974, Oehrle 1976, Jackendoff 1990). For instance, recipients in double-object sentences, but not in double-complement sentences, are apparently constrained to be animate.4

Double-object sentence Double-complement sentence
(21) a. Travis sent Betsey the receipts. (22) a. Travis sent the receipts to Betsey.
b. * Travis sent the post office box the receipts. b. Travis sent the receipts to the post office box.

This effect is so strong that noun phrases that can be interpreted as inanimate in a double-complement sentence are forced in the corresponding double-object sentence into an animate interpretation, if that is possible. For instance, Philadelphia might be interpreted metonymically as the people at the Philadelphia office.

(23) a.   Travis sent Philadelphia the receipts. (only metonymy reading)
b.   Travis sent the receipts to Philadelphia. (ambiguous between metonymy and location reading)

What the facts in (21)-(23) suggest is that ascribing exactly the same thematic role (that of recipient) to the first DP in a double-object sentence and to the PP in a double-complement sentence is not quite correct. Rather, the PP in a double-complement sentence desigates a path along which the theme moves. Accordingly, we will represent double-complement sentences using VP shells in which CAUSE takes a small clause complement headed by GO. GO selects as its complement a directional PP, designating the theme's path. The endpoint of the path can be expressed by either a recipient (as in (22a)) or a location (as in (22b)). We give the structures that we are assuming shortly.

This move of carefully distinguishing between recipients and locations is supported by the parallel between (21)-(23) on the one hand and the corresponding simple 'get' and 'go' sentences in (24) and (25) on the other.

Parallel to double-object sentence Parallel to double-complement sentence
(24) a.   Betsey got the receipts. (25) a. The receipts went to Betsey.
b. * The post office box got the receipts. b. The receipts went to the post office box.
c. Philadelphia got the receipts. (only metonymy reading) c. The receipts went to Philadelphia. (ambiguous between metonymy and location reading)

Let us now spell out in detail how the pattern of judgments in (21)-(25) can be made to follow from distinguishing between recipients and locations. For convenience, we introduce the notion of argument array, by which we simply mean an unordered list of semantic arguments that are associated with a (possibly abstract) Fregean predicate. As we already saw in Chapter 4 in connection with optionally transitive verbs like eat, predicates can be associated with more than one argument array. (26) gives argument arrays for eat as well as for the abstract predicates GET and GO that are of interest here.

(26) a.   eat { agent, theme };
{ agent }
b.   GET5 { recipient, theme }
c.   GO { recipient, theme };
{ location, theme }

As we know from Chapter 4, semantic arguments are mapped onto (= associated with) positions in syntactic structures. As it turns out, this mapping is not one-to-one. For instance, in the case of GET, the argument array { recipient, theme } is mapped onto the structure in (27a). In the case of GO, the same array is mapped onto the structure in (27b).

(27) a.       b.  

Given the two structures in (27), the acceptability of (24a) and (25a) follows straightforwardly. So does the acceptability of (21a) and (22a), which simply reflect the embedding of the structures in (27) under CAUSE.

As we have just seen, a single argument array can be mapped onto more than one syntactic structure. Conversely, a single syntactic structure can be associated with more than one argument array. In particular, the location argument in a { location, theme } argument array can occupy the same structural position as the recipient argument in (27b), as shown for GO in (28).

(28)    

It is this structure that underlies (25b) and its causative counterpart in (21b), and the location interpretations of (25c) and (23b).

As it turns out, there is no mapping between the { location, theme } argument array and the structure in (29).6

(29)    

This is the reason for the unacceptability of (24b) and its causative variant (21b) and for the unavailability of a location reading in (24c) and (23a). (For completeness, we must also assume a semantic constraint that prevents locations from serving as recipients.)

At this point in our discussion, let us return to the animacy constraint stated earlier (in connection with (21) and (22)), according to which the recipient in a double-object sentence must be animate. More generally, the constraint would lead us to expect that any recipient of GET must be animate. As (30) shows, however, the constraint is not actually correct.

(30) a.   Tina gave the cabinet a fancy handle.
b.   The cabinet got a fancy handle.

Having distinguished between recipients and locations allows us to give the description of the facts in (31).

(31)     The first object in a double-object sentence must be a recipient and cannot be a location.

Statistically speaking, recipients tend to be animate, and it is this tendency that was enshrined as a categorical generalization in early work on the topic.

In the double-complement examples presented so far, the path complement is headed by a transitive P. Of course, as we would expect given X' theory, the projection of an intransitive P can serve as a path complement as well (in traditional grammar, what we here call intransitive Ps would be called adverbs).

(32)     Travis sent the receipts { here, there } .

Notice that the pro-PPs here and there must refer to locations. As expected, the double-object counterpart of (32) in (33) is unacceptable.7 The contrast between (32) and (33) is exactly analogous to the contrast between (22b) and (21b).

(33)   * Travis sent { here, there } the receipts.

From what we have said so far, it is clear that not every double-complement sentence has a double-object counterpart (double-complement sentences with location arguments don't). However, since both recipients and locations can designate the endpoint of a path, it might still be the case that every double-object sentence has a double-complement counterpart. But this turns out not to be true either, because the path argument in a double-complement structure imposes a semantic requirement of its own on the theme: namely, that the theme undergo a transfer from one end of the path to the other. Themes in double-object sentences, on the other hand, aren't necessarily subject to this path-related requirement. This explains how there can be double-object sentences like (34), whose double-complement counterparts are awkward at best.

Double-object sentence Double-complement sentence
(34) a.   The scandal gave the reporter an idea. (35) a. * The scandal gave an idea to the reporter.
b. Bright lights give Amy a migraine headache. b. * Bright lights give a migraine headache to Amy.

In English, the experiencer of an idea or a headache is treated as a recipient, and since it is perfectly possible for ideas or migraine headaches to be the result of certain causes, the double-object sentences in (34) are acceptable. The reason that the double-complement sentences are unacceptable is that the idea and the headache are taken to arise in somebody's head spontaneously, not to travel to the head along some path. Once again, as expected, the simple 'get' and 'go' sentences in (36) and (37) are parallel to (34) and (35).

Parallel to double-object sentence Parallel to double-complement sentence
(36) a. The reporter got an idea. (37) a. * An idea went to the reporter.
b. Amy got a migraine headache. b. * A migraine headache went to Amy.

Notice that even contagious diseases don't undergo a transfer strictly speaking. In other words, they don't move, but they spread or are shared (occupying their original location in addition to the new location). This explains the contrast between (38) and (39).

(38) a. Jerry gave Amy his cold.
b. Amy got a cold.
(39) a. * Jerry gave his cold to Amy.
b. * A cold went to Amy.

In concluding this section, we should point out that we have implicitly focused on the similarities between send and give. Not surprisingly, of course, the two verbs do not behave completely identically. In particular, the argument array associated with send can contain either a recipient or a location, whereas that associated with give must contain a recipient argument, not a location argument. Another difference between give and send is that send, by virtue of its irreducible meaning, imposes a path requirement on the theme even in a double-object sentence. This explains the contrast between (38a) and (40).

(40)   * Jerry sent Amy his cold.

Put

Another double-complement verb is put, which, like send, is associated with the argument array { agent, location, theme }. Put differs from send, however, in that its lower VP shell is headed by BE, which selects a purely locative complement (rather than the directional complement selected by GO).

(41)    

Unlike give or send, put is not associated with the argument array { agent, recipient, theme }. Put therefore appears in double-complement sentences, but not in double-object sentences, as shown in (42).8

(42) a.   Amy put the books { on the shelf, there }.
b. * Amy put { the shelf, there } the books.

Persuade

In the examples of VP shells that we have considered so far, the lowest complement has been VP (causatives), DP (double-object verbs), or PP (double-complement verbs). In persuade, we have a case of a VP shell in which the lowest complement is a clause, which can be either finite or nonfinite, as illustrated in (43).

(43) a. Finite:   We persuaded him that he should do it.
b. Nonfinite:   We persuaded him to do it.

(44) gives the VP shell for the finite case.

(44)    

We defer discussion of the nonfinite case until Chapter 9, which is devoted to discussing nonfinite complement clauses.

The causative alternation

Manner of motion verbs

This section extends the VP shell approach to the so-called causative alternation, illustrated in (45).

(45) a.   The ball dropped. ~   The children dropped the ball.
b.   The ball rolled down the hill. ~   The children rolled the ball down the hill.
c.   The boat sank. ~   The explosion sank the boat.

In the intransitive variant on the left, the verbs drop, roll, and sink designate a manner of motion, and the subject expresses a theme argument. In the transitive variant on the right, the subject is an agent (or more generally, a cause) initiating the motion, and the theme argument surfaces postverbally. These facts follow straightforwardly if we assume that the structure for the transitive variant contains the intransitive variant embedded under CAUSE, as shown in (46) and (47). For clarity, we show the shell structures both before and after any instances of movement that apply.

(46)    
(47) a.       b.  

Notice that in the predicates under discussion, the simple and the causative variant are both spelled out using the same phonological form. For instance, both DROP in (46) and DROP + CAUSE in (47b) are spelled out as 'drop'. Any verb for which this is true (not necessarily a manner of motion verb) is said to participate in the causative alternation. Conversely, a verb like give and get are not said to participate in the causative alternation, even though give is semantically a causative of get.

Get

Although give and get are not causative alternants in the sense just defined, get itself participates in the causative alternation. In other words, the combination GET + CAUSE can be spelled out not only as give, but also as get, as illustrated in (48).9

(48) a.   Betsey got the receipts.
b.   Travis got Betsey the receipts.

The argument structure for GET in (48a) is already familiar from (27a) and is repeated here as (49a). Embedding (49a) under CAUSE results in (49b). For simplicity, we show only pre-movement structures in what follows.

(49) a.  
b.  

As we know from our earlier discussion, the { recipient, theme } argument array can also be mapped onto a DP-PP structure. In the case of give and send, this alternative structure contains the abstract head GO. (50a) shows that GET can head the same structure as GO, and (50b) shows that this GET, too, participates in the causative alternation. The necessary structures are given in (51).

(50) a.   The receipts got to Betsey.
b.   Travis got the receipts to Betsey.

(51) a.  
b.  

For simplicity, in our earlier discussion of give and send, we associated GET with the single argument array { recipient, theme }. In fact, like GO, GET is also associated with the argument array { location, theme }. Again, as in the case of GO, this second argument array maps onto a structure that is identical to (51a), except that the lowest complement is a location rather than a recipient. The resulting structure and its causative alternation counterpart are shown in (52).

(52) a.       b.  

The sentences in (53) illustrate this argument array.

(53) a.   The receipts got to the post office box.
b.   Travis got the receipts to the post office box.

Sentences with causative get pattern as expected with respect to the distinction between recipients and locations, as illustrated in (54).

(54) a. * Travis got { the post office box, here } the receipts. (cf. (21b), (33))
b. Travis got Philadelphia the receipts. (only metonymy reading) (cf. (23a))
c. Travis got the receipts to Philadelphia. (ambiguous between metonymy and location reading) (cf. (23b))
d. Tina got the cabinet a fancy handle. (cf. (30a))

Moreover, just as in the case of GO, the theme in a DP-PP structure headed by GET must undergo transfer.

(55) a. ?* An idea got to the reporter. (cf. (37a))
b. * A { migraine headache, cold } got to Amy. (cf. (37b))

Further issues

Locality constraints on idioms

It has been traditional in generative grammar to (attempt to) impose a locality constraint on idioms along the lines of (56) (locality constraints are so called because they make reference to relatively small, or local, domains).

(56)     All parts of an idiomatic expression must together form a constituent.

The motivation for (56) is the desire to impose a structural restriction on what can count as an idiom in natural language, thereby preventing arbitrary combinations of words and phrases from having idiomatic readings. For instance, (56) prohibits idioms like the made-up example in (57), because blue and hop don't by themselves form a constituent.

(57) a.   The blue lunch at Bitar's hops.
Intended meaning: 'The lunch at Bitar's is unusually large.'
b.   They've bred a strain of blue drosophila that hops.
Intended meaning: 'They've bred a strain of drosophila that is unusually large.'
c.   The great apes all have blue brains that hop.
Intended meaning: 'The great apes all have unusually large brains.'

In many cases, the constraint in (56) is trivially satisfied. For instance, red tape 'bureaucratic difficulties' is an NP, the Big Apple 'New York City' is a DP, and kick the bucket 'die' or let the chips fall where they may 'disregard the consequences of one's actions' are VPs. There are even idioms that consist of entire clauses, like The shit hit the fan. Crucially, however, there shouldn't be any idioms consisting of discontinuous chunks. At first glance, therefore, idioms like those in (58) seem to pose a problem for the locality constraint in (56).

(58) a.   give someone the creeps 'make someone uneasy'
b.   throw someone to the wolves 'sacrifice someone'

However, just as the VP shell analysis allows us to preserve the binary-branching hypothesis in the face of prima facie counterevidence, it also allows us to preserve the locality constraint on idioms in the face of idioms like (58). This is because the VP shell analysis allows us to say that what is idiomatic in (58) are the underlined VPs in (59).

(59) a.   CAUSE someone GET the creeps
b.   CAUSE someone GO to the wolves

Strong evidence for the decomposition in (59) is the existence of the related idioms in (60).

(60) a.   get the creeps
b.   go to the wolves

In addition, since heads form constituents with their complements but not with their specifiers, potential idioms such as those in (61) are predicted not to be possible.

(61) a.   the { creeps, wolves } GET someone
b. the { creeps, wolves } GO to someone

This elegantly explains the unacceptability of sentences like (62) and (63) (on their intended idiomatic interpretation).

(62) a. * The creeps got me.
b. * The wolves went to Felix.
(63) a. * Oscar threw the wolves Felix. (= CAUSE the wolves GET Felix)
b. * Crazy people give the creeps to me. (= CAUSE the creeps GO to me)

Small clauses revisited

We motivated the assumption of VP shells with reference to causative small clauses like (6), repeated in (64).

(64)     God let [ there be light ] .

As we know from Chapter 3, small clauses can also contain predicates headed by syntactic categories other than V. (65) gives some examples.

(65) a. AP They proved [ the solution completely inadequate ] .
b. DP They consider [ her a friend ].
c. PP They made [ him into a star ] .

Stowell 1983 proposed that all small clauses have a uniform structure, illustrated for (65b) in (66).

(66)    

According to this analysis, the small clause (Aristotelian) predicate (underlined in the examples above) is an intermediate projection. The entire small clause (in brackets) is the predicate's maximal projection, and the subject (in italics) is the maximal projection's specifier and the predicate's sister. Stowell's analysis is attractive because it treats small clauses as structurally analogous to ordinary clauses. The only difference between the two clause types concerns whether the clause contains a projection of I. Nevertheless, the analysis cannot be maintained for DP small clauses because it fails to accommodate the minimal variant of (65b) in (67).

(67)     They consider [ her Tanya's friend ].

Here, the DP predicate contains a possessor, which under Stowell's analysis would compete with the small clause subject for Spec(DP) (Heycock 1991).

In order to maintain binary branching, the structure for examples like (67) must include an additional head, which we take to be a silent counterpart of the copula be. We give the structure for (67) in (68a), and our revised structure for (66) in (68b). Notice that both structures preserve the property of treating small clauses and ordinary clauses as structurally parallel.

(68) a.       b.  

Based on the parallel acceptability of the DP small clauses in (69) and the AP and PP small clauses in (70) and (71), we propose to extend the structure in (68) with silent BE to the remaining small clauses in (65).

(69) a. DP   They consider [ Dean the Democratic Party's best hope ] .
b.     With [ Dean the Democratic Party's best hope ] , ...
(70) a. AP   They consider [ the unemployment figures ominously high ] .
b.     With [ the unemployment figures ominously high ] , ...
(71) a. PP   They consider [ the patient out of danger ] .
b.     With [ the patient out of danger ] , ...

BE is not the only predicate that can head small clauses. (72) illustrates small clauses that are headed by as, and (73) gives the structure for (72c).

(72) a.   They regard [ Dean as the Democratic Party's best hope ] .
b.   They regard [ the unemployment figures as ominously high ] .
c.   They regard [ the patient as out of danger ] .

(73)    

An apparent problem for the analysis just proposed is the fact that let can take VP small clause complements headed by ordinary verbs, including ordinary be, but not ones headed by silent BE.

(74) a.   We let [ Martha be Lukas's buddy ] .
b. * We let [ Martha Lukas's buddy ] .

Conversely, with doesn't allow small clauses headed by ordinary verbs, but does allow ones headed by silent BE.

(75) a. * With [ Martha be Lukas's buddy ] , ...
b. With [ Martha Lukas's buddy ] , ...

This problem is less serious than it appears, however, since heads are able to subcategorize not only for the syntactic category of their complements, but to specify that category's head as well. We know this because of examples like (76), where a head selects not just a PP complement, but a PP complement headed by a particular preposition.

(76) a.   faith { in, *at, *on, *to } your ability
b.   rely { on, *at, *in, *to } someone


Notes

1. In traditional grammar, the recipient and theme are taken to be the verb's indirect and direct object, respectively.

2. The idea underlying the VP shell analysis goes back to Chomsky 1955 and was taken up in Larson 1988, 1990 (see also Jackendoff 1990). The treatment in this chapter is indebted to that in Harley 2002, though not identical to it in all details.

3. In addition to marking the grammatical relations like subject or direct object, Japanese also marks discourse functions such as topic. In Japanese main clauses, topic -wa marking overrides subject -ga marking. Because of this, it is customary to illustrate -ga marking using subordinate clauses, as we do in what follows.

4. This statement is not quite correct. A more adequate version is given in (31).

5. The astute reader will observe that GET, like GO, is also associated with the argument array { location, theme }. We return to this fact later on in the chapter.

6. We are taking the relatively weak position that what is unavailable is the mapping between the argument array { location, theme } and the structure in (29). A more interesting claim would be that it is the structure in (29) itself that is ruled out by some principle of Universal Grammar. The choice between the two is beyond the scope of our discussion.

7. The alternation in (i) - specifically, the well-formedness of (i.b) - is only an apparent exception to the statement in the text.

(i) a.   Amy sent the mail { back, off } .
b.   Amy sent { back, off } the mail.

Back and off are so-called particles, which can behave like ordinary PPs, as in (i.a), but also more like bound affixes, as in (i.b). A detailed analysis of the syntax of particles is beyond the scope of this discussion, but evidence for their differing syntactic status in (i) comes from contrasts as in (ii).

(ii) a.   Amy sent the mail right { back, off } . (cf. right to the CEO)
b. * Amy sent right { back, off } the mail.

8. Again, alternations as in (i) are only apparent exceptions to the statement in the text and reflect the status of on and back as particles; see fn. 7.

(i) a.   Amy put her sweater (right) { on, back } .
b.   Amy put (*right) { on, back } her sweater .

9. We are being a bit sloppy here. The GET + CAUSE combination that gets spelled out as give isn't actually completely identical to the one that gets spelled out as get. In other words, there are slightly different heads GET-1 and GET-2, with give being the spellout of GET-1 + CAUSE, and get the spellout of GET-2 + CAUSE. A good indication that the lower heads differ slightly is the fact that give and get don't have exactly the same distribution (cf. Jerry { gave, *got } Amy a cold).


Exercises and problems

Exercise 7.1

Find five double-object or double-complement verbs not mentioned in the chapter and suggest a semantic decomposition for them.

Exercise 7.2

Make up one short sentence for each of the double-complement verbs give, send, put, and persuade, and use the grammar tool in x-bar 2 to give complete structures for them.

Exercise 7.3

A. Using the grammar tool in vp shell spines, propose structures for each of the following euphemisms. Assume that German and Latin are head-final.

die kill
(1) a. German um-kommen (lit. around-come) um-bringen (lit. around-bring)
b. Latin per-ire (lit. through-go) per-dere (lit. through-place)
c. Latin inter-ire (lit. between-go) inter-facere (lit. between-make)

Exercise 7.4

For the purposes of the exercise, assume the judgments given, even if they aren't your own.

A. As succinctly and clearly as you can, explain the contrast in (1).

(1) a.   Travis { sent, got } the receipts to the post office box.
b. * Travis gave the receipts to the post office box.

B. As succinctly and clearly as you can, explain the contrast between (2) and (3).

(2)     Jerry got Amy a present.
(3) a. * Jerry got Amy a cold.
b. * The scandal got the reporter an idea.
c. * Bright lights get Amy a migraine headache.

C. As succinctly and clearly as you can, explain the pattern of judgments in (4) and (5).

(4) a.   The couch got a shove.
b.   The movers gave the couch a shove.
c. * The movers got the couch a shove.
(5) a. * A shove got to the couch.
b. * The movers gave a shove to the couch.
c. * The movers got a shove to the couch.

D. As succinctly and clearly as you can, explain the contrast in (6).

(6) a.   Crazy people give me the creeps.
b. * Crazy people get me the creeps.

E. As succinctly and clearly as you can, explain the pattern of judgments in (7) and (8).

(7) a.   The surgeon gave the patient the finger. (ambiguous between literal and idiomatic reading)
b.   The surgeon gave the finger to the patient. (unambiguously literal)
(8) a.   The surgeon got the patient the finger. (unambiguously literal)
b.   The surgeon got the finger to the patient. (unambiguously literal)

Exercise 7.5

Explain the contrast between (1) and (2).

(1)     God let there be light.
(2) a. * They consider there light.
b. * With there light, we can start trekking.

Exercise 7.6

A. Make up two examples of small clauses. You don't need to build structures for them.

B. Using the grammar tool in x-bar 2, build structures for (1).

(1) a.   They kept the president's arrival a secret.
b.   They kept the president's arrival very secret.

Exercise 7.7

For each of the trees that you draw for this exercise, include a paraphrase for the interpretation that the tree represents.

A. Using the grammar tool in x-bar 2, build structures for each interpretation of the following structurally ambiguous headlines. Unlike in the chapter, give full IPs where necessary.

For simplicity, treat compound nouns (e.g., Brazil nut, orange juice) as simple nouns without internal structure. Treat the gerund form in (1c) as a simple verb without internal structure.

(1) a.   Lawyers Give Poor Free Legal Advice
b.   Young makes Zanzibar stop
c.   Complaints About NBA Referees Growing Ugly

B. Using the grammar tool in x-bar 2, propose structures for the intended interpretation of (2) and for a structurally possible (but let us hope unintended!) cannibalistic interpretation.

(2)     "I want to make you my favorite sandwich."
(Holly Hughes. 2003. Best food writing 2003. New York: Marlowe. 167.)

C. Using the grammar tool in x-bar 2, propose structures for the two interpretations of the punchline in (3). For simplicity (contrary to the solution for Exercise 5.9, (1d)), you can treat the imperative clause as a bare VP.
(3)     Q. What did the Zen master say to the guy at the hot dog stand?
A. Make me one with everything.

Exercise 7.8

A. Off the top of your head, propose an elementary tree for ago. Does the elementary tree differ from other elementary trees of the same syntactic category?

You won't necessarily be able to build the tree you want with the grammar tool for this chapter.

B. Now look up ago and its etymology in the Oxford English Dictionary. Using the grammar tool in x-bar 2, build the elementary tree for ago that is consistent with the etymology that you find.

C. This part of the exercise is not closely related to the material covered in this chapter, but you will need the results to complete (D). Is the syntactic category of the quantifier many D or (say) Adj? Give the evidence on which you base your answer.

Hint: Reread the discussion of two tymes to-geder in the solution to Exercise 6.1.

Don't give an answer based on the meaning of many. The meaning won't decide this question for you, since some quantifiers, like no or some, are determiners, and others, like few or two, are not.

D. On the basis of your results from (B) and (C), use the grammar tool in x-bar 2 to give the structure for the sentence in (1).

(1)     Mark's family lived there many years ago.

Problem 7.1

There seem to be no ditransitive nouns, adjectives or prepositions. Is this an accident?

Problem 7.2

A. For some speakers, the second clause in (1) contradicts the first. For others, (1) is semantically coherent.

(1)     They sent a rocket to Uranus, but it never arrived.

An apparently unrelated fact is that, for some speakers, (2a) entails that the students learned syntax, whereas (2b) doesn't have that entailment. For other speakers, the sentences in (2) are synonymous.

(2) a.   The instructor taught the students syntax.
b.   The instructor taught syntax to the students.

Can you suggest a (single) explanation for these two facts?

B. It seems that for some speakers, (2a) and (2b) are synonymous, but neither entails that the students learned syntax. How serious a problem does this pose for the approach to ditransitive verbs presented in this chapter?