LINGUIST List 3.502

Tue 16 Jun 1992

Disc: Predicates, Comparatives

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  1. Rick Wojcik, Re: 3.493 Predication
  2. Allan C. Wechsler, 3.478 Comparatives

Message 1: Re: 3.493 Predication

Date: Mon, 15 Jun 92 08:44:32 PDRe: 3.493 Predication
From: Rick Wojcik <rwojcikatc.boeing.com>
Subject: Re: 3.493 Predication

David Pesetsky responds to Ronnie Wilbur's query about Russian:
>
> One datum that might become an argument for an empty verb is that
> Russian, like Black English as described by Labov, does not allow the
> empty verb before a movement site. My Russian is becoming somewhat
> rusty but I think relevant examples are things like the following:
>
> 	*Masha -- xoroshij lingvist, kakov Misha tozhe.
> 	Masha good linguist, which Misha also
>
> 	Masha -- xoroshij lingvist, kakovym Misha tozhe byl.
> 				 which Misha also was

I'm not sure about the above sentences, since the first calls out for a present
tense marker "est'". But my Russian isn't good enough to tell me that you can
tack "est'" on the end and come out with a grammatical sentence.

The Russian copula is only 'missing' in the present tense, and then not always.
The form "est'" appears under certain semantic conditions--e.g. to help out
with the fact that Russian lacks determiners:

	U kogo -- karandash? "Who has a pencil?"
	U kogo est' karandash? "Who has the pencil?"

The syntactic status of the copula is very tricky, since the predicate NP or
AP really serves as the main verb semantically. The problem is that, when a
language distinguishes syntactically between auxiliaries and main verbs, the
copula never has properties that are unique to main verbs. For example, in
English, it behaves like an auxiliary with respect to negation, auxiliary do,
subject-aux inversion, etc. I have never heard of a language in which the
copula did not behave like an auxiliary verb, when given a chance. So I would
argue that we are not really talking about "verbless" sentences in languages
with null copulas, but sentences in which the syntactic verb slot is filled
by an adjective or noun phrase and the "empty" slot is that of an auxiliary
verb.

The proposal that predicate APs and NPs fall into syntactic verb slots
may sound a little unusual, but I'm prepared to defend it with data from
Breton. In that language, main verbs and predicate AP/NPs undergo parallel
movement rules, which is pretty convincing evidence that they belong to the
same syntactic species.
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Message 2: 3.478 Comparatives

Date: Thu, 11 Jun 1992 13:54-0403.478 Comparatives
From: Allan C. Wechsler <ACWRIVERSIDE.SCRC.Symbolics.COM>
Subject: 3.478 Comparatives

I recently encountered the following lovely sentence, which I share
without further comment:

(1) I think this is rarer than Allan does.
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