Featured Linguist!

Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

Donate Now | Visit the Fund Drive Homepage

Amount Raised:


Still Needed:


Can anyone overtake Syntax in the Subfield Challenge ?

Grad School Challenge Leader: University of Washington

Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login

Discussion Details

Title: Re: Deep Structure/Initial PP
Submitter: Thomas Hoffmann
Description: Just a few quick comments on John Harris's post:

"The usual starting deep structure production for generativists is S--  NP
VP. On this view, to produce a surface sentence starting with an initial
PP, such as At night I wear pajamas, a speaker must first generate a
deep-structure sentence with the PP internal to VP, and then perform a
fronting movement of the PP from its deep structure position within the VP."

1. "Generativists" include Minimalists (cf. e.g. Chomsky 199= 5), people
working within Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar (cf. e.g. Pollard and
Sag 1994), or Lexical-Functional Grammar (cf. e.g. Bresnan 2001) as well as
tons of other theories. Note that actually most of these do not have a
movement operation (things are inserted where they appear on the "surface").

2. If "generativists" is to refer to Minimalists, then note that

2.1 the Minimalist Program (MP) has an explicit bottom-up nature: elements
combine ("merge") and then either of the two projects its categorical
label, e.g. V + NP --  VP (actually V' or Vmax). Thus, there is no top-down
rewriting process as implied in S --  NP VP;

2.2 the concept of “deep-structure” has been dispensed with in the MP.
Thematic dependencies (i.e. semantic roles, e.g. the fact that WEAR implies
someone who wears something) are still considered to be merged first,
according e.g. to principles like Bakers Universal Theta Assignment
hypothesis (1997). But that's how the semantics-syntax mapping is assumed
to proceed within the MP and a lot more could be said about that (and as
far as I know, will be said in Cullicover and Jackendoff's fc. "Syntax Made

However, within the MP there is nothing which forces you to merge temporal
adjunct PPs such as at night in the VP. If you want to get a good idea as
to how adjuncts are handled in the MP, then you should take a look at Ernst
(2002) where it is said that such temporal sentence PPs can merge into the
pre-subject positon.

Thomas Hoffmann
University of Regensburg/Germany


Baker, Mark C. 1997. "Thematic roles and syntactic structure". In: Liliane
Haegeman, ed. Elements of Grammar: Handbook in Generative Grammar.
Dordrecht et al.: Kluwer Academic, 73-173.

Bresnan, Joan. 2001. Lexical-Functional Syntax. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Chomsky, Noam. 1995. The Minimalist Program. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Ernst, Thomas. 2002. The Syntax of Adjuncts. (Cambridge Studies in
Linguistics 96.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Pollard, Carland Ivan Sag. 1994. Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Date Posted: 20-Nov-2004
Linguistic Field(s): Linguistic Theories
LL Issue: 15.3262
Posted: 20-Nov-2004

Search Again

Back to Discussions Index