LINGUIST List 7.1165

Sun Aug 18 1996

Sum: More on predicate nominals

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  1. Deborah Schmidt, sum: more on predicate nominals

Message 1: sum: more on predicate nominals

Date: Sun, 18 Aug 1996 13:17:19 EDT
From: Deborah Schmidt <DSCHMIDTuga.cc.uga.edu>
Subject: sum: more on predicate nominals

I summarized too soon! I have since come upon several more very
thoughtful responses to my question about predicate nominals, so once
again I return to the list. 

Philip L. Peterson reminds me that many grammarians assume there to be
an "is" of identity (equative "is"?) as well as an "is" of
predication. He opines that my example sentences in (1)-(4) all
contain the "is" of identity: (1) The beagle is my favorite breed of
dog. (2) Spop is my favorite dog. (3) My favorite breed of dog is
the beagle. (4) My favorite dog is Spop. There are surely many
subtleties involved in semantic problems such as these (so see the
references listed below), but most of the respondents to my query
considered _my favorite (breed of) dog_ to be a logical predicate in
all four sentences. 

As Lorie Heggie observes in her WCCFL 7 paper, sentences like (7), in
which both overt NPs get a referential reading, are very different
from sentences like (6): (6) Spop was eager [PRO to be my favorite
dog]. (7) My favorite dog was eager [PRO to be Spop]. 

Kiyoshi Ishikawa wisely cautions that we must, of course, always bear
in mind how we want to utilize the notions of subjecthood and
predicatehood, and be clear on what assumptions underlie our
diagnostic tests for subjecthood and predicatehood. Same goes for the
notions of specific reference and generic reference, when we wonder if
and how they might apply to _my favorite (breed of) dog_ in (1)-(4).
Indeed, I am guilty of casually using the theoretically loaded term
"syntactic predicate" in my previous summary when talking about an NP
that follows _is_ and neither shows indication of nominative case when
pronominalized nor participates in subject-verb concord.

REFERENCES

Ishikawa, Kiyoshi (1996) "Individuation and Reasoning" in Seligman &
Westerstahl (eds.) _Logic, Language and Computation_, Stanford: CSLI.
Peterson, Philip L. (1976) "On Specific Reference" _Semantikos _ 1,
63-82.
Peterson, Philip L. (1976) "An Abuse of Terminology: Donellan's
Distinction in Recent Grammar" _Foundation of Language_ 14,249-252.
Peterson, Philip L. (1979) "On Representing Event Reference" _Syntax
and Semantics_ 11, 325-355.
 Debbie Schmidt
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