LINGUIST List 12.1162

Fri Apr 27 2001

Disc: Moss Review/Verbal Complexes

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Michael Moss, Disc: Moss Review/Verbal Complexes

Message 1: Disc: Moss Review/Verbal Complexes

Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2001 11:47:05 +0200
From: Michael Moss <>
Subject: Disc: Moss Review/Verbal Complexes

 Several days ago, a colleague responded to my review of Koopman
and Szabolcsi (12.1083). Nilsen states that several my criticisms are
groundless or too harsh, and that several important points made in the
book were left out. I will respond directly to these accusations here.

 First, Nilsen writes that I did not address the issue of the head
versus phrasal movement analysis presented in the book and that the
review did not mention the question brought up in chapter 6 concerning
the issue of whether or not infinitival verbs represent full
clauses. These issues were not mentioned due to the fact that the
mechanisms on which they are founded ("+" phrases and LP/Stacking
Positions) are not justified or defended. As such, it is difficult to
estimate the strength of the new approach, no matter how innovative or
interesting it may be.

 Second, Nilsen writes that the projections assumed by Koopman and
Szabolsci to be universal, such as PredP, RefP, DistP, FP, LP, InfP, are not
new, that they are commonly found in the literature, and that references are
given to their origin in the work. Perhaps I used the word "introduced" a
bit loosely, but as a justification of my statement I offer the following

(1) "Hungarian marks the scope of many operators by overtly moving them
 into designated positions; the linear order of these positions is
 fixed (E. Kiss 1987, 1991). In (1) [diagram not included]
 Ref(erential)P is the position of names, definitions, and wide scope
 indefinites; Dis(ributive)P is the position of universals and a set of
 other operators. Szabolcsi's (1997) analysis of these positions as
 RefP and DistP is inspired by Beghelli and Stowell 1997. The
 assumption that sentences contain the functional projection F(ocus)P
 comes from Brody 1990. FP is the position for emphatic or contrastive
 focus as well as modified numeral QPs" (page 8).

 Szabolcsi 1997, and Beghelli and Stowell 1997 are both articles
contained in the same volume: Ways of Scope Taking. Dordrecht:Kluwer,
edited by Anna Szabolcsi. No other analyses using these projections
were mentioned in the book. This does not seem to indicate that the
proposed functional projections are "widely used" in the literature as
suggested. Nilsen further claims that LP is simply AgrP under a
different name. This may be the case. This fact is, however, not
mentioned in the book being discussed. Furthermore, AgrP (for either
Subjects or Objects) is restricted in its use in early Minimalist
Theory both by place and function. LP does not seem to be constrained
in the same way, especially in its use as a "Stacking Position".

 Taking the above into consideration I find it hard to say that my
statement about functional projections "introduced" in the text was
false as indicated by Nilsen. While these terms may have been proposed
earlier, they have not yet entered the "standard" array of functional
projections either. I would also like to point out that Nilsen had
nothing to say about the actual criticisms that I made of the book,

2. a. the argument is not developed in a linear form;
 b. the concepts used are often partially or poorly
 c. the diagrams are incomplete and as such are
 difficult to analyze; and, furthermore, that the 
 "technology" used to support the authors'arguments 
 was not well defined and it's use not well defended.

Michael Moss
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