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Date 2015-04-01

Speaker:Prof. Brendan S. Gillon/McGill University;National Chengchi University (visiting scholar)

Topic:Complement Polyvalence, Polyadicity and Permutation

Abstract:The talk provides a single solution to six problems. Two are well known from the earliest days of generative grammar, the problem of subcategorization (Schachter 1962, Bach 1964, Chomsky 1965) and the problem of phrasal projection (Harris 1946, Chomsky 1970). The problem of subcategorization arises from the fact that words, while belonging to the same lexical category are distinguished by the kinds of complements they admit. (In the case of English, this distinction, which occurs with all lexical categories, includes, in the case of verbs, the well known traditional distinction between transitive and intransitive verbs, but it is certainly not limited to that.) The problem of phrasal projection is the problem of how to capture the generalization that every phrasal category XP contains a word of category X. The third problem is the problem of defining a structure, or model, for a natural language context free grammar. The customary solution is the solution of Klein and Sag (1985), which is to stipulate a type assignment to the context free categories. The fourth problem, rarely addressed (Sag \textit{et al.} 1985, Carpenter 1997 ch. 6.2.4 and Whitman 2004), is the problem of complement polyvalence, that is, where the same word tolerates different complements. In English, the copular verbs such as to be, to become, to appear, etc., are the best known examples. The fifth problem, first noticed by Kenny (1963) and subsequently unsatisfactorily addressed by Fodor and Fodor (1980) and by Dowty (1979, 1981), is the problem of complement polyadicity, which arises with words which admit optional complements. The sixth is the problem of permutable complements, best known in generative linguistics as dative shift.

No syntactic theory provides a single treatment for all six problems. Indeed, only one, HPSG, provides a single treatment of the first two problems. I shall present a single treatment of all six. Here is the basic idea: as noted by Levine and Meurers 2006 \S 2.1.2, the use of complement lists to formulate a cancellation rule bears a similarity to the use of complement lists in HPSG. As such, complement lists obviate the need for type assignments. Furthermore, by generalizing the form of the cancellation rule, one can treat the remaining three problems.

I am currently investigating how these ideas can be extended to Classical Sanskrit and to Mandarin Chinese.

Time:  12:30-14:00 Mon. April. 16, 2015

Location: Room 340314, Ji-Tao Building

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