5 years ago

Modern grammars of case: a personal history

Modern grammars of case: a personal history


24 Modern grammars of case: a personal history an A, which outranks it for purposes of subject selection; if not outranked it becomes a ‘subject’, as in (44.b). The semantic generalisation invokes O. This allows a simpler formulation than via appeal to (two) ‘deep’ grammatical relations. And this suggestion is consistent with what we can attribute to O elsewhere. Unless this is over-ridden by the context, an O argument is normally interpreted as participating as a whole in the event labelled by the predicator. Contrast (47.a) and (b) involving the place noun room: (47) a. Bill searched in the room b. Bill searched the room c. Bill was searching the room d. Bill read the book e. Bill was reading the book The progressive in (47.c) over-rides our normal expectation that the action exhausts (the relevant dimensions of) a place noun that is an O. The same is true in the holistic (38.b); since the O in the latter also, as locational, introduces a place, the exhaustiveness is associated with the relevant dimension of the entity denoted by the argument. Other dimensions may be relevant with nouns which do not typically denote places. In (47.e) the progressive over-rules our expectation that the book was read as a whole, which we can associate with (47.d). The suggestion that the wall in (38.b) and the garden in (44.b), to take a couple of the examples discussed, are Os raises a number of questions, to be sure. If these are Os, what are the (other) post-verbal arguments, for instance? Anderson (1977: §1.8) regards them as also O. This offends against one of the principles Fillmore deploys in constraining the combination ofcases’ – the requirement that only one (possibly coordinate) token of each case is permitted per proposition (1968a: 22). But O is arguably exceptional in this regard. There is no reason to regard the arguments in simple equative sentences as other than two Os: (48) a. The guy over there is my lover b. My lover is the guy over there Differences in subject-selection here reflect discourse concerns rather than semantic relation. But what then is the difference between (48) and (44.b)? And how do we describe the use of with in the latter? There was an attempt at this point to answer these last questions at least. Note that (44.b) also retains its locational interpretation: it is the dimensions of a space that are exhausted under the ‘holistic’ interpretation. Given this, Anderson (1977: §1.8) suggests that the garden in (44.b) is both O and L(ocative). The pair in (44) differ as in (49): (49) a. O,L (the garden) O (with bees) b. O (bees) L (in the garden) The with marks an O that is outranked for subject-selection by a complex O. Elsewhere in English with marks ‘instruments’ or ‘comitatives’, as respectively in (50): (50) a. John smeared paint on the wall with a rag b. John smeared paint on the wall with a friend ((50.b) involves a ‘comitative’ on a charitable interpretation of John’s actions, at least.) That the with-phrase in (38.b) is neither of these, is suggested by (51): (51) a. John smeared the wall with paint with a rag

John Anderson 25 b. John smeared the wall with paint with a friend In each of these, two with-phrases co-occur showing a clear difference in meaning. To allow for the syntax of (44.b), we apparently need to extend the subject-selection hierarchy, as it affects O and A, as in (52): (52) A > O, > O Similarly, the non-locational O in (38.b) is outranked as ‘object’. This, of course, violates another of Fillmore’s constraints (1968a: 24): that each NP is associated with only one case label. But again there are motivations for relaxing this, for allowing the role of an argument to be represented by a conjunction of relations. I’ll come back to this when we turn to our next topic, the identification of the cases. Other questions raised by these suggestions awaited the development of explicit accounts of the lexical relationship between the verbs in these ‘partitive’/‘holistic pairs’. But it is at least clear, I think, that S.R. Anderson’s (1971) defence of ‘deep structure’ is inconclusive, at most. However, the official announcement of the demise of ‘deep structure’ was not to come for a number of years, with the introduction of the ‘minimalist program’. 5.2 The after-life of ‘deep structure’ As a sort of apologia for ‘deep structure’, Chomsky (1995: 187) contends concerning a grammar that postulates a ‘deep structure’ and a ‘surface structure’, that ‘the empirical justification for this approach … is substantial’. He says concerning ‘D(eep)-structure’, specifically: ‘D-structure is the internal interface between the lexicon and the computational system, … Certain principles of U G are … held to apply to Dstructure, specifically, the Projection Principle and the θ-Criterion. But the ‘θ-Criterion’ regulates the relationship between semantic relations and arguments; and, rightly or wrongly, it embodies Fillmore’s constraints. ‘Case grammar’ argues that it is not surprising that the interface with the lexicon should be associated with the same level as semantic relations are available at; this is basic to the ‘case grammar’ proposal. There is no need to associate this conjunction of lexical access and the presence of semantic relations with an arbitrary ‘internal’ level, however. The principles mentioned do not select ‘deep structure’, but a level containing semantic relations. Lexical entries are sensitive to semantic relations not grammatical relations, or the configurations that allegedly define them. No verbs are subcategorised as to whether they take a subject or not. Nor are such grammatical-relations-based notions as ‘transitive’ relevant to subcategorisation. Thus, the partial lexical entry in (24) is appropriate for verbs like Open: (24) Open O (A) It obscures the relationship between the two uses of the verb, on the other hand, to describe it as simply optionally ‘transitive’, as expressed in (53.a): (53) a. Open ( ___NP) b. Have you eaten (the fish)? This might possibly be appropriate for a verb such as the Eat of (53.b), with constant subject and optional object. But what is constant with Open is the element that appears as the ‘transitive’

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