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Structural analogy in language and its limits [Contrast and analogy v.2]

Structural analogy in language and its limits [Contrast and analogy v.2]

John Anderson 54 (120)

John Anderson 54 (120) a. {V} | {C\{V}} {V} : | : {V/{C}} {C\{V}} : : : : : {C} : : : : : : : : : k a m p b. {P} | {N\{P}} {P} : | : {P/{N}} {N\{P}} : : : : : {N} : : : : : : : : : Fritz read reviews yesterday In (120.b) P is the predicability feature whose unique presence we might take to characterise verbals, ‘event-types’, while N is the feature of referentiability, whose presence characterises nominals, ‘entity-types’ – as already invoked in §2.1. At this point, I have backtracked a little from the assumptions concerning syntactic structure already made in the discussion in §2, particularly as concerns the representation of verbs and nouns, in order to lay out the motivations for these latter in a more systematic way. This will also highlight exactly where the analogy breaks down. But at this point I continue with formulating it in its strongest form. Like consonants, nominals may be adjuncts (yesterday), as well as complements (reviews); and it is traditional to distinguish between the more closely bound adjunct exemplified by yesterday and the ‘predicate-external’ Fritz. Observation of such parallelism is not new (cf. e.g., in the not too distant past, Pike 1967). More recently, it underlies Carstairs-McCarthy’s (1998, 1999) argument that syntactic structure evolved as an exaptation of phonological. 30 However that may be, there are places where the parallelism rather clearly breaks down. One obvious problem, even if we restrict our attention to English, is that yesterday is not a typical adjunct. More often they are prepositional, as in (121); they introduce a category which intervenes between the verb and the nominal: (121) Fritz read reviews on Tuesday It is not, clearly, that this is criterial for the complement/adjunct distinction, or that such a preference is necessarily to be attributed to other languages, given that there are some, like Japanese or Lake Miwok or Lak, in which both complements and adjuncts (as well as ‘subjects’) are typically marked uniformly by presence of a ‘particle’ which is a postposition or ‘enclitic’ or inflexion. Rather, we seem to have introduced a category which is not paralleled in the phonology. Let us approach the question of the motivations for such a category – as well as for the apparent categorial difference between the adjuncts in (120.b) and

55 Structural analogy in language, and its limits (121) – indirectly, via some other observable discrepancies introduced by a comparison of (120.a) and (b). It is also, for instance, rather obvious that not all languages share the SVO clause pattern exemplified in (120.b): the widely testified SOV and VSO types would then represent syntactic variation that does not seem to be paralleled in the phonology: we have cross-linguistic variation in linearity. 31 However, if we abstract away linearity, we might at least claim that configurationally and in categorial structure, the parallelism is more widely attested than simply in SVO languages. The attestation is weakened to the extent that there are languages that lack a ‘VP’ constituent, i.e. the construction headed by the lowest {P} in (120.b) (with the middle {P} allowing optional expansion of that): socalled ‘non-configurational’ languages (e.g. Hale 1983, Farkas 1986). Even in such cases the (non-)status of ‘VP’ remains controversial, however. Also, although, as recognised by the ‘maximal onset principle’, whereby onsets are maximised at the expense of codas, and as embodied in (4), there is a strong tendency towards the filling of onsets, the extent to which this is analogous to the status of ‘subjects’ is unclear: (4) unmarked syllable structure {C} + {|V|} Pressure to fill the onset in English connected speech is manifested by the ‘capturing’ by vowel-initial syllables of consonants from a preceding onset (‘liaison’) or, as in South African English, by insertion of an ‘expletive’ glottal stop (e.g. Giegerich 1992: §9.3.1), as is also well attested in German. Cross-linguistically, some languages lack codas, while languages lacking onsets completely seem to be almost non-existent (though see Breen & Pensalfini 1999, on Arrernte). However, it is often proposed that ‘subject’ – traditionally, the position in structure that is manifested as Fritz in (112.b) – is an absolute universal, not merely preferred, and that in a ‘full clause’ ‘[Spec,IP] is obligatory’ (Chomsky 1995: 55), where ‘[Spec,IP]’ is an interpretation of the traditional ‘subject’ relation, though it may be filled only by an expletive (It is raining) or an ‘empty’ element. 32 But this depends on affording some latitude to the notion ‘subject’, as well as the invoking of a battery of ‘empty’ elements. Thus, the absence of a strict analogue to the traditional notion of ‘subject’ in languages with ‘ergative’ syntax and in many ‘topic-prominent’ languages, as well as in the type illustrated above (in note 23 and (117)) by Tagalog, is ignored at the expense of misrepresenting the syntactic differences between these language types (see Anderson 1977: §3.5, 1997: §3.1). And I assume here a properly restrictive view of syntax which eschews empty elements. What is more problematical is that, whether, given its position, one regards Fritz in (120.b) as specifically a specifier or simply an adjunct, non-expletive occupants of the position are semantically essential to a clause containing the particular verb on which it depends. Semantically, Fritz is as much of a ‘complement’ as reviews: both of them represent participants (to adopt something like Halliday’s (1985) terminology) in the scene labelled by that verb, rather than a circumstance, as does the adjunct yesterday/on Tuesday in (120.b/121). One problem, obviously, is that Fritz doesn’t appear in what we have been regarding as a complement position. I return to this below, in §3.3. But also, ignoring this for the moment, we are now in the position of associating with a verb more than one ‘complement’. Now, these particular ‘complements’ can be distinguished configurationally – though, as we’ve observed, this differentiation is itself problematical. But we also find verbs that take three participants, as in (122):

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