LINGUIST List 15.1503

Wed May 12 2004

Review: Syntax: Camacho (2003)

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  1. Hana Skrabalova, The Structure of Coordination

Message 1: The Structure of Coordination

Date: Tue, 11 May 2004 19:50:36 -0400 (EDT)
From: Hana Skrabalova <>
Subject: The Structure of Coordination

Camacho, Jos� (2003) The Structure of Coordination: Conjunction and
Agreement Phenomena in Spanish and Other Languages, Kluwer Academic
Publishers, Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 57.

Announced at

Hana Skrabalova, University of Paris 3-Sorbonne Nouvelle.


This book analyzes the structure of coordination with respect to the
properties of conjuncts and the way conjuncts interact with other
categories outside coordination (agreement and other grammatical
phenomena). A substantial amount of data are taken from varieties of


The book contains an introduction (chapter 1) and four other chapters
(chapter 2 to 5). In the introduction, the author announces his
proposals concerning the structure of coordination: (i) one conjunct
must c- command the others (c-command asymmetry), (ii) each conjunct
should reflect the same structural properties as if it were in a
simplex sentence (licensing symmetry), and (iii) coordination always
involves a set of sentential functional projections(cf. Chomsky 1957,
''Conjunction Reduction'').

In chapter 2, the authors deals with properties of coordination and
reviews different proposals concerning the structure of coordination
(Goodall 1987, Johannessen 1998, H�hle 1990, Munn 1993, etc.). First,
he claims that each conjunct is licensed in the same way as it would
be if it were not conjoined. Consequently, all conjuncts must have the
same syntactic features (cf. Pullum & Zwicky's (1986) 'Law of
Coordination of Likes') and the same syntactic status. Therefore, the
author argues against proposals involving Conjunction Phrase, because
they assume that conjuncts are structurally asymmetric. There follows
a brief discussion of asymmetric coordinations which are claimed not
to constitute evidence against the general symmetry of conjuncts. The
main discussion of asymmetries concerning partial agreement and
coordination of different categories are postponed to chapters 4 and 5
respectively. Second, the author argues, following Munn (1993), that
one of the conjuncts should be structurally higher and c-command the
other conjunct. Finally, he claims that all coordinations are
interpreted sententially. This claim is based on the following
observations: (1) Coordination and plural DPs differ in their
distribution and in their entailment: (i) contrary to non conjoined
bare NPs, conjoined bare NPs can appear in preverbal subject position,
and (ii) only conjoined NPs, not plural DPs entail that each
individual participed in the event. (2) Sentential adverbs can modifiy
conjoined DPs, but not plural DPs. (3) Plural- like categories
corresponding to conjoined verbs, adjectives, or adverbs are
cross-linguistically absent.

In chapter 3, the author develops his proposal concerning the
structure of coordination. First, he assumes that conjunctions are
heads (cf. Johannessen 1998). Assuming also that coordinate structures
are as underspecified as possible (cf. Gazdar et al. 1985) and that
coordination is sentential in nature (cf. above), he suggests
''conjunction be a sentential functional head that has a propositional
content'', represented by a single feature (PROP) on the
conjunction. To account for the fact that coordination has the
distribution of its conjuncts, the author argues that conjunction copy
features from another functional category. Depending on the position
of the conjunction, a different functional head will license the
conjunction by giving it its content: subject coordination will be
licensed by Inflection, cf.(1), while object coordination will be
license by Agr-o. The fact that each conjunct in (1) is in the same
structural position (Spec-IP) as it would be in a simplex sentence is
supposed to reflect the assumption that a coordination of subjects is

(1) [IP DP1 [I' Co(tns,f...)[IP DP2[I' I (tns,f...)

Coordination of other categories than DPs is assumed to have the same
underlying structure, see (2a), but differs with respect to the head X
licensing the conjunction (y).

(2) [XP Conjunct1 [X' y [XP Conjunct2 [X' X [...]]]]]

The author's main argument for a sentential analysis of coordination
comes from switch-reference phenomena. Switch reference systems in
languages like Hopi, Ono and Mojave involve morphological markers that
signal coreference relation between arguments (usually subjects) of a
main clause and a subordinate clause. Several researchers had
observed parallelism between coordination and switch reference (Hale &
Jeanne 1976, Haiman 1983). Hale & Jeanne (1976) note, for instance,
that switch reference (SR) markers in Hopi always adjoin to inflected
verbs, and that these markers are identical to those used for
coordination. The author proposes an analysis of SR in Hopi and of
comitative coordination in Mojave where the fact that SR markers
adjoin both to inflected verbs and to conjunctions follows naturally
from his proposal that coordination is a sentential functional
projection. The author next endeavors to corroborate his hypothesis:
(i) heads cannot be conjoined, and (ii) conjoined elements do not form
a constituent. Given coordination is generally assumed to behave as a
constituent, the last part of the chapter deals with deriving the
constituency effects (with respect to movement, agreement and binding)
without coordination forming a constituent. In order to do that, the
author suggests that conjuncts are generated in their surface position
and that they are linked to a silent phrase (little pro), which is the
constituent that undergoes movement, cf.(3):

(3) John(i)and Mary(j)seem pro(i+j)to have been called 

The author argues that an argument in favor of a silent phrase comes
from the distribution of subject bare NPs in Spanish. According to
him, the fact that non conjoined bare NPs are only licensed in
postverbal position, whereas conjoined bare NPs may appear in
preverbal explains if they are linked to a pro in postverbal position
(a position licensing bare NPs). The subsequent analysis of
coordination assumes that coordination involves a chain between
conjuncts and a silent category. It also assumes that lexical
categories are categorial matrices, i.e. bundles of features
identified by a categorial label. In the typical case, all the
features appear together under the same matrix. But the features can
also be inserted in a different syntactic position than the matrix (in
checking projections). Consequently, movement is viewed as an
operation by which a matrix fills its unspecified values. In
coordination, part of the features of the chain are inserted in the
lowest chain position and move to the conjuncts. In the case of
conjoined subjects, for instance, agreement features of the conjoined
DPs are generated in the Spec-IP, while case features and theta- role
are inserted in the matrix of the silent category (DPx), generated in
Spec-VP. This category matches the feature specifications of each
conjunct: an important assumption is that plurality is a sum of
singularities (SG, SG). The DPx moves to the Spec-IP where it fuses
with the matrix of the second conjunct (DP2). Fusing is a partial
copying since the categories are not identical. The resulting matrix
(DP2/x) will have its theta-role and case specified. It will check the
features of the I and then move up to the specifier of the conjunction
and merge with the first conjunct (DP1). The resulting matrix will
check the features of the conjunction, identical to I.

(4) a. Luc�a y Yesi corren.
 Lucia and Yesi run.
 b. [yP [DP1 Lucia][y' y [IP [DP2 Yesi][I' I [VP 
 [DPx]corren ]]]]]
 c. [yP [DP1(THETA,CASE,SG,3P)][y' y(TNS,NOM,SG,SG)
 [VP [DPx(AGENT,NOM,SG,SG)]...]]]]]

In chapter 4, the author returns to agreement asymmetries. First, he
claims that partial agreement (i.e. agreement with one conjunct only)
shows in the non canonical word orders. Second, he claims that
conjoined structures with partial agreement can be divided into two
types: those that behave as if agreement had no interpretative
consequences (PF agreement structures) and those where agreement
patterns do have interpretative consequences (LF agreement
structures). Partial V-S agreement in Irish and Czech, as well as
clitic and adjectival agreement in Spanish are claimed to be cases of
PF agreement. On the contrary, partial V-S agreement in Moroccan and
Lebanese Arabic and in Spanish, as well as copular and adjectival
agreement in Brazilian Portuguese are claimed to be cases of LF
agreement. The analysis of partial agreement (PA) is based on the
theory of categories and feature insertion (cf. above). The author
argues that LF PA involves gapping in the second VP conjunct
(cf. ABS's (1994) clausal analysis of PA in Arabic) and that it is
covert agreement restricted to one of the specifiers in the structure
of coordination. Agreement features of the verb of the first conjunct
are generated in a functional head F above XP. Therefore, the verb
must move up to F to have it matrix filled, cf. (5a). After Spell-Out,
the higher (i.e. closest) conjunct moves to the Spec-FP to check
agreement with the verb in F, cf. (5b). (The analysis of gapping is
dealt with in chapter 5).

(5) a. [FP [F' Vi [XP [VP DP1 ti ][X' and [XP [VP DP2 ei 
 [PP ...]][X' ...]]]]]]
 b. [FP DP1 [F' Vi [XP [VP tDP1 ti ][X' and [XP [VP 
 DP2 ei [PP ...]][X' ..]]]]]]

As for PF PA, the author assumes Aoun & Benmamoun's (1999)
postsyntactic merger proposal and suggests that before the derivation
of coordination branches off to the interpretative component the
structural configurations allow for plural antecedents.
Postsyntactically, the first conjunct will raise to the specifier of
the projection headed by the V, yielding the PF agreement
paradigm. The postsyntactic merger analysis is applied also to partial
dative agreement in clitic doubling structures in Spanish.

Finally, the author proposes an analysis of PA with nominal modifiers
in Spanish. In Spanish, determiners and prenominal adjectives cannot
have full agreement, though they can have scope over both
conjuncts. The author argues (against Longobardi 1994) that cases of
apparent NP coordination inside DP involve full DPs coordinations with
null structure licensed under identity, cf.(6). More generally, the
author claims that the lowest category that can be conjoined inside DP
is a predicative phrase (PredP), as predicted by his proposal that
coordination affects functional categories with predicational
content. PA with prenominal elements is therefore a regular agreement
within the first conjunct.

(6) [DP1 la supuesta imagen]y[DP2(D) (ADJ) reflejo]
 the alleged image and (the)(alleged)reflexion

As for postnominal adjectives, the author suggests that they agree in
a higher position that coordination since conjoined DPs and PPs
displaying full number agreement and partial gender agreement still
may have scope over both conjuncts, cf.(7). He thus introduces an
agreement projection above conjoined DPs/PPs which can also be a
scopal projection. Given the feature-insertion analysis assumed for
coordination, PA takes place between the features of the lower head
and the second conjunct, whereas full agreement (FA) takes place where
agreement features are inserted in the higher head X (Agreement head).

(7) [[NP-M.SG] and [NP-F.SG]] ADJ-F.PL

The author concludes that coordination involves a functional
projection both in the DP and in the IP. The difference is that the
agreeing head in the IP case is a verb, cf.(8a), and that it the DP
case, it is an adjective, cf.(8b).

(8) a. [IP DP1 [I' [and [IP DP2 [I' [Verb]]]]]]]
 b. [XP X [YP DP1 [Y' [and [YP DP2 [Y' [ADJ]]]]]]]

Finally, the author extends his analysis with Agr Phrase (XP) to
double conjunction structures. He argues that exclusive / distributive
reading of these double conjunctions structures is linked to the first
conjunction and these operators occupy the head Agr.

(9) [XP ni[YP DP1 [Y'[ni[YP DP2 [Y'[...]]]]]]]

In the last chapter, the author deals with asymmetric coordinations
involving two conjuncts of apparently different categories (cf. H�hle
(1990) for German). Given his assumption that conjuncts must belong
to like- categories (cf. chapter 2), he argues that these
coordinations involve gapping. Following Zoerner (1995), the author
proposes that gapping and Right-Node-Raising (RNR) involve conjunction
of predicational projections. Gapping is claimed to differ from DP
coordination in that it relates VPs in the specifiers of conjunction
nodes. As for RNR constructions, the authors suggest that the shared
object is not raised, but rather it is complement of the second
conjunct, since there are constructions where only the structurally
lower verb has its selectional restrictions satisfied by the
''shared'' object.


The book provides the reader with a wide range of interesting data
concerning clitics, nominal modifiers, and PP coordination in
Spanish. The idea of applying the feature-insertion theory and matrix
movement to coordination is original. The proposal to introduce an
agreeing head above coordination allows in particular an elegant
account of cases of mixed agreement with postnominal modifiers. An
extended use of this head also allows for a nice account of double
conjunction structures: despite of their formal identity, the
conjunctions are not structurally identical, since each of them is a
different head. This accounts for their different syntactic
distribution (before and between conjuncts) and different semantic
properties (distributive and exclusive readings are due to the first

However, the whole proposal is based on two claims which seem to me to
be problematic. First, the claim that conjuncts are licensed in the
same way as if they were not conjoined predicts for instance that
collective predicates are compatible with singular NPs, which is
incorrect. The fact that conjoined bare NPs in Spanish can function as
preverbal subjects contrary to non conjoined bare NPs (cf. chapter 2)
also shows that the distribution of conjuncts and that of coordination
are not always parallel. Second, the claim that all coordination it
sentential is mostly based on analysis of coordination and switch
reference in Hopi and in Mojave. Though convincing, it is not clear
why this analysis should be equally assumed for languages without any
SR system. Other arguments (chapter 2) do not show either that
coordination must be sentential. For instance, nominal coordinations
where sentential adverbs are infelicitous, as in (7b), are not
mentioned and remain unexplained.

(10) a. Perhaps John and maybe Mary will come.
 b.*Perhaps John and maybe Mary will meet.
 c. John and Mary will meet.

This claim also has undesirable consequences for both the
representation and derivation of coordinate structures. The structure
of non nominal coordinations (chapter 3) contains functional
projections which do not seem independently motivated, and whose
identity is rather vague (Event Phrase, Predicational Phrase). The
derivation of clausal coordination (p. 59-62) involves several
movements apparently motivated only by the necessity to derive a
correct word order.

The feature-insertion analysis, though attractive, assumes that
plurality is a sum of singularities, cf.(3) above. But, if two
singular features are assumed to yield a semantic plural, what would
the representation of plural in generic DPs or universally quantified
DPs be ?

Although partial agreement receives a lot of attention, the author
does not say how he would derive full agreement with postverbal
conjoined subjects. This leaves the picture of agreement phenomena
incomplete. Note also that it is not clear why the projection above
coordination allows to obtain PA in case of V-S agreement (p.120), but
full agreement in case of modifier agreement (p.135).

More crucially, the structure of DP coordination with postnominal
modifiers assumes that conjunction is licensed by a predicational
functional head, hosting the adjective, cf.(9a). This structure
parallels the structure of subject DP coordination where conjunction
is licensed by the verbal functional head, cf.(11b). Then, it is not
clear at all what the structure of a subject coordination modified by
a postnominal adjective should be: if the head licensing the
conjunction were I, as in (11a), where would the ADJ be, and vice
versa ?

(11) a. [IP DP1 [I'[and [IP DP2 [I'[I...]]]]]]
 b. [XP X [YP DP1 [Y'[and [YP DP2 [Y'[ADJ...]]]]]]

Finally, the argumentation is somewhat incoherent. In the chapter 3,
conjoined bare NPs are claimed to be allowed in preverbal position,
since they are linked to a pro in postverbal position. The author
stipulates that conjoined bare NPs cannot be linked to a pro because
''coordination would force a kind of movement that ordinary NPs cannot
undergo''. This is not consistent with the assumption that conjuncts
do not move. In the chapter 4, the prenominal adjective agreeing only
with the first conjunct is said to be able to have scope over both
conjunct, but the author claims that the ungrammaticality of full
agreement on prenominal adjectives relates to the fact that they
cannot have scope over both conjuncts. Finally, the data analyzed with
respect to gapping in the chapter 5 do not involve gapping, but V(P)
coordination (''John came and left'').


Aoun, J., Benmamoun, E. & Sportiche, D., 1994. ''Agreement, Word Order
and Conjunction''. Linguistic Inquiry, 25: 195-220.

Aoun, J., & Benmamoun, E., 1999. ''Agreement, Coordination, and
Gapping''. Ms. USC and SOAS.

Chomsky, N., 1957. Syntactic Structures. The Hague: Mouton. 

Gazdar et al., 1985. ''Coordination and How to Distinguish
Categories''. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, 3: 117-171.

Goodall, G., 1987. Parallel Structures in Syntax. Cambridge: CUP.

Haiman, J., 1983. ''On Some Origins of Switch Reference Marking''. In
J. Haiman & P. Munro (eds.), Switch-Reference and Universal Grammar,
105-128. Amsterdam:John Benjamins.

Hale, K. & Jeanne, L., 1976. Hopi workshop notes. Ms. University of Arizona.

H�hle, T., 1990. ''Assumptions about Asymmetric Coordination''. In
J. Mascar� & M. Nespor (eds.), GLOW Essays for Henk van
Riemsdijk. Dordrecht: Foris.

Johannessen, J., 1996. ''Partial Agreement and Coordination''. 
Linguistic Inquiry, 27: 661-676.

Johannessen, J., 1998. Coordination. Oxford: OUP.

Longobardi, G., 1994. ''Reference and Proper Names''. Linguistic
Inquiry 25 :609-666.

Munn, A., 1993. Topics in the Syntax and Semantics of Coordinate
Structures. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Maryland.

Pullum, G.,& Zwicky, A., 1986. ''Phonological Resolution of Syntactic
Features Conflict''. Language 62: 751-773.

Zoerner, E., 1995. Coordination: The Syntax of &P. Ph.D. dissertation,
University of California.


Hana Skrabalova is a teaching and research assistant at the University
of Paris 3. Her field of research (Ph.D. dissertation in progress)
includes syntax and semantics of coordinate expressions and related
phenomena (agreement, DP structure, plurality). She is mostly working
on Slavic (Czech) and Romance (French) languages.
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