Ivan A. Sag

Locality and Nominal Constructions

2003. szeptember 18.



Az előadás kivonata

Cross-linguistically, lexical selection obeys strong locality constraints. A verb can select for the category and content of its arguments, but not for the category/content of arbitrary elements within an argument. A similar locality holds for case assignment, agreement, etc. (e.g. a verb might assign case to, or agree with, an object, but not to an object within its clausal or VP complement).

Grammatical theory can approach this problem in terms of a theory of feature `inheritance'. For example, X-Bar theory (more precisely, the Head Feature Principle), entails that certain lexical properties (arguably including case and agreement information, as well as category information) are projected to the phrasal level, where they can be locally selected for by a governing element. Feature-based
theories of extraction (e.g. the SLASH or GAP feature of GPSG/HPSG) provide a similar account of the many languages where verbs or constructions are sensitive to long-distance information (Tough constructions, Irish complementizer selection, Chamorro verb morphology, etc.).

However, previous approaches to locality have failed to provide an adequate account of the fact that certain elements internal to a selected argument are locally accessible at the external level. These include (1) overt pronominal subjects within nonfinite clauses that are controlled externally in Serbo-Croatian, Halkomelem Salish and other languages and (2) NP-internal `possessors', which are externally accessible in a wide array of languages.

In this paper, I present a construction-based approach to grammar that embodies the strong hypothesis that at most one argument within a given phrase -- its `external argument' -- is externally accessible. I will motivate an account of English nominal constructions, building on joint work with Fillmore, Kay and Michaelis, that makes only prenominal genitives externally accessible:

(1)  He_i lost his_i way.
(2) *He_i lost the/that way of his_i.

I will also discuss certain puzzles at the syntax-semantics interface, that have been discussed at length by Partee and Borschev (1998, 2003), involving the interpretation of examples like (3):

(3)  Kim's former mansion...

Minimal Recursion Semantics (Copestake et al. 2003) provides a simple account of the fact that the contextual genitive (`posession') relation in (3) can fall within the scope of former.