LINGUIST List 16.508

Sat Feb 19 2005

Review: Syntax: Davies & Dubinsky (2004)

Editor for this issue: Megan Zdrojkowski <>


        1.    Aroldo Andrade, The Grammar of Raising and Control

Message 1: The Grammar of Raising and Control

Date: 16-Feb-2005
From: Aroldo Andrade <>
Subject: The Grammar of Raising and Control

AUTHORS: Davies, William D.; Dubinsky, Stanley
TITLE: The Grammar of Raising and Control
SUBTITLE: A Course in Syntactic Argumentation
PUBLISHER: Blackwell Publishing
YEAR: 2004
Announced at

Aroldo L. Andrade, unaffiliated scholar


This book results from the creative idea of explaining the development of
syntactic theory with a focus on raising and control, a suitable choice as
those constructions have been in the limelight of generative grammar since
its beginnings. It includes six readings drawn from the literature. These
are accompanied by basic explanations and discussions in order to help
students to understand the proposals and some related problems.

The book consists of four units, following the major modifications in
Chomskyan thinking. Each unit includes two to five chapters, one of those
with a summary of the main assumptions laid out with the different models/
research programs.

Unit I shows the development of Raising and Control in the framework of
Classic Transformational Grammar. Chapter 1 presents some tests used to
distinguish the constructions and a discussion about their validity. A
taste of Standard Theory is provided in chapter 2, together with the
initial accounts on the constructions, with special attention to
Rosenbaum's (1967) proposal and the responses to it.

Chapter 3 discusses Postal's (1974) text "On Raising". Besides, the
authors present evidence in favor of a raising analysis from other
languages, helping to build an empirical basis for the discussion. Chapter
4 presents Chomsky's contribution to the topic, based on the Extended
Standard Theory, where he dismisses a movement account for Raising to
Object as unnecessary. One of the developments that paved the way to this
change is a broader notion of governing category, allowing the binding of
reflexives outside the embedded clause provided that no condition is

In chapter 5 the debates around Postal's proposal are reviewed. The tacit
conclusion derived from the offered evaluations is that both empirical
arguments and the clear spell-out of proposals are crucial in building a
solid argument. The relation between Bach (1977) and other non-
derivational accounts of Raising and Control (for instance, in Lexical-
Functional Grammar) clarifies the assumptions behind a semantic-based
explanation and its consequences, such as the unification of the focused
constructions in syntactic terms.

Unit II goes on with the controversy between Postal and Chomsky. The
diversion introduced earlier turns into theories with salient differences.
Chapter 6 includes a reading from Perlmutter and Postal (1983 [1972]) in
which a sharper rendering of previous ideas by Postal is presented in the
form of the Relational Succession Law. The text is evaluated and the
general assumptions of Relational Grammar are explained.

In chapter 7 Revised Extended Standard Theory is discussed. The tendency
to generalize conditions to the maximum is maintained and, as a
consequence, control is assigned a place among the rules of construal that
apply from Surface Structure to Logical Form. The comments on the reading
from Chomsky and Lasnik (1977) stress the notion of obligatory control
showing up in infinitival complements to control verbs, among other cases.
The rule of Equi-Nominal Phrase (Equi-NP) deletion targets embedded
subjects of verbs such as "want", so that the principle of obligatory
control is maintained.

Unit III is dedicated to Government and Binding Theory (GB), another stage
of Chomsky's theorizing. In this stage, conditions on representations are
grouped into coherent modules responsible for filtering derivations.
Chapter 8 summarizes the basic assumptions of GB, and the modifications
regarding Raising and Control are summarized. In particular, the analysis
of Raising to Object (RtoO) is improved to accommodate the assignment of
objective Case by verbs like "believe". This phenomenon is referred to as
Exceptional Case Marking (ECM) and is allowed by a rule of S'-deletion
(which was reinterpreted as a Complementizer Phrase (CP) deletion with
raising verbs, when the theory on functional categories was developed, by
the mid-1980's).

Chapter 9 presents some discussion of the ECM account. First of all, there
is a review of Kayne's (1981) text in which properties of prepositional
and empty complementizers in English and French are compared. After this,
a reading from Cole and Hermon (1981) revives the discussion on the
necessity of a movement account in RtoO. One evidence for this is the
existence of tensed inflection in embedded clauses of Imbabura Quechua,
creating a problem for Case Theory, as assignment of both accusative (by
ECM) and nominative by (Specifier-Head agreement) would be possible.
However the movement approach is ruled out in GB by the stipulation that
all complement positions are theta-positions, thus violating the theta-
criterion. An alternative proposal consistent with the ECM account is
entertained as well.

Chapter 10 contains a look into purportedly raising constructions in some
Austronesian and Philippine languages and in Japanese as an attempt to
explore the general success of an ECM account. For instance, it is
concluded that languages such as Madurese have inconsistent data with a
RtoO analysis, since (i) the targets of raising are not exclusively
subjects and (ii) embedded coreferent pronouns are possible (commonly
referred to as "copy raising"), among other reasons. Therefore, the
authors state, a "prolepsis" analysis would be more suitable, provided
that one considers the licensing of null pronouns. Data is shown from
Tagalog and Cebuano that is similar to those from Madurese. Japanese data
is discussed first by differentiating the cases of RtoO from those of
Object Control. The exceptional properties of its RtoO constructions are
then presented, followed by some analyses that question Kuno's (1976)
seminal account. The singular features of the Japanese construction
include (i) finiteness in the embedded clause and case alternation in the
candidate for raising; (ii) phrases marked with the expression "no koto"
(="matter of"), only licensed with the accusative marking, and (iii) the
alleged impossibility of direct passives in the Japanese RtoO
construction - in those cases Kuno assumes that only an Adversity Passive
is possible.

Unit IV describes the rise of the Minimalist Program and its consequences.
Chapter 11 presents a detailed description of the evolution of the notion
phrase structure, including the representation of subjects and functional
projections, specifically those related to Agreement. Besides, it includes
a succinct section on the Minimalist Program model followed by a
clarifying discussion about the consequences of adopting concepts like
Bare Phrase Structure and the restriction on the proliferation of
functional categories.

Chapter 12 comments on the return to older analyses made possible by some
assumptions taken on the minimalist framework. Neo-RtoO is exemplified
with a reading by Lasnik & Saito (1991), in which the embedded subject in
raising constructions is moved to the Specifier of the Object Agreement
Phrase (Spec, AgrOP). In addition, a review of Runner (1995) is presented,
in which it is discussed whether that movement occurs overtly or covertly.
Bruening (2001) is presented as a neo-ECM account designed for languages
that show a finite complement in apparent RtoO structures. Raising in
Japanese is again considered in the light of more recent accounts.

Chapter 13 takes the issue of separation/unification of Raising and
Control that appeared in the more recent literature. The authors remind us
that earlier Chomskyan theory assumes that the structural differences
between both constructions are based on assumptions about the relation
between Deep Structure and Semantic interpretation. It recalls that some
accounts outside the Chomskyan framework in the 1970's had already come up
with the idea of a syntactic unification of raising and control. Here, the
presentation of the assumptions regarding the mapping from semantic roles
to syntactic argument positions are illuminating. Hornstein's (1999)
account is shown as a rejection to the problems involved with the
licensing of PRO, the null complement subject of control verbs. Hornstein
analyzes control as a kind of raising. Finally, some criticisms to the
notion of control as movement are taken into account. The final section
warns those researchers interested in raising and control about the great
variety of empirical evidence that must be tackled if a good proposal is
to be made.


The book offers an overview of the generative enterprise. In this sense,
it has many advantages over other manuals on syntax that concentrate only
on the Government and Binding Theory and/or the Minimalism Program because
it helps one to track the emergence of some concepts, such as Principles
and Parameters. Given the rapid pace of change in the theory of grammar
nowadays, this knowledge is crucial so that students can have a solid
basis on which to judge the analyses available, which are legion in some
areas. Despite the authors' care, the book deals with a very difficult
problem and should not be recommended for readers without some training on

Davies and Dubinsky adopt a balanced position towards non-MIT-oriented
approaches, although these do not occupy most of their attention. The
possibility of looking outside the mainstream of generative linguistics
allows them to make useful comments on new proposals, especially those who
claim to be minimalist. Indeed, it is shown that, in most cases, new
accounts do not bring much novelty at all, being the result of
terminological variation and/or the revival of already existent accounts.
The ability of "theory-translation" (using the authors' words) is not
easily obtained by beginners. One of the main qualities of this book is to
direct the readers' attention to such problems. Indeed, the evaluation of
proposals probably composes the core of the book, helping develop a sense
of self-criticism by the readers.

The book would better attain its goal as a manual on syntax if it included
some exercises, especially with data not restricted to English. Besides
those already included in the book, other interesting facts on control can
be found in Portuguese tensed infinitives. As Rabelo (2004) points out, in
a similar fashion to Raposo (1989), the behavior of tensed infinitives is
consistent with a control analysis as long as PRO is substituted by pro
(the empty option of a pronominal). This is necessary given the
possibility of substituting the null element by overt NPs in control

(1) Os pais da Maria admitiram morarem (eles) nos EUA
The parents of.the Maria admitted live.3pl (they) in.the USA
'Maria's parents admitted to living in the USA'

Besides, languages not using infinitives in those contexts (as Greek) and
those with serial verb constructions (as Thai) present interesting data to
be used in class. Notwithstanding this possibility, the authors
demonstrate great concern about the interplay of data and theory. For
example, it is pointed that the necessity of distinct accounts for Raising
to Subject and Raising to Object is centered in theory-internal reasons.

The order of presentation of the texts is generally clear, with one
exception: the positioning of Postal's (1974) text. Although supporting a
Standard Theory approach to syntax, Postal's raising analysis is a
rejection of Chomsky's (1973) text, and would be better included after
Chomsky's proposal.

Another issue that raises doubt concerns the reinterpretation of ECM in
the Minimalist framework. The authors do not explain why an ECM account is
dismissed at this stage of the theory (because of the abandonment of the
notion government). Regarding the same issue, it is not clear how the neo-
ECM analysis in Bruening (2001) is possible given that assumption.

Apart from these minor remarks, the book must be recognized as a
contribution to the study of Raising and Control. It includes valuable
discussions presented in a clear and innovative style. It is worth


Bach, Emmon. (1977) Review article on Postal, On raising: One rule of
English grammar and its theoretical implications. Language 53.621-54.

Bruening (2001) Syntax at the edge: Cross-clausal phenomena and the syntax
of Passamaquoddy. PhD dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Chomsky, Noam. (1973) Conditions on transformations. In Stephen Anderson
and Paul Kiparsky, eds., A festschrift for Morris Halle, 232-86. New York:
Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

Chomsky, Noam, and Howard Lasnik. (1977) Filters and Control. Linguistic
Inquiry 8.425-504.

Cole, Peter, and Gabriella Hermon. (1981) Subjecthood and islandhood:
evidence from Quechua. Linguistic Inquiry 12.1-30.

Hornstein, Norbert. (1999) Movement and Control. Linguistic Inquiry 30.69-

Kayne, Richard. (1981) On certain differences between French and English.
Linguistic Inquiry 12.349-71.

Kuno, Susumu. (1976) Subject Raising. In Masayoshi Shibatani, ed., Syntax
and Semantics 5: Japanese Generative Grammar, 17-49. New York, Academic
Press. Revised version of 1972. Subject Raising in Japanese. Papers in
Japanese Linguistics 1.1.

Lasnik, Howard, and Mamoru Saito. (1991) On the subject of infinitives.
Proceedings of the Chicago Linguistic Society (CLS) 27.324-43.

Perlmutter, David M., and Paul M. Postal. (1983 [1972]) The Relational
Succession Law. In David M. Perlmutter, ed., Studies in relational grammar
1, 30-80. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Postal, Paul M. (1974) On Raising: One rule of English grammar and its
theoretical implications. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Rabelo, Poliana C. (2004) Sobre a questão do controle com o infinitivo
flexionado português. MA dissertation, University of Brasilia.

Raposo, Eduardo. (1989) Propositional infinitival constructions in
European Portuguese. In: Jaeggli, Osvaldo & Kenneth J. Safir (eds.), The
Null Subject Parameter. Dordrecht, Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Rosenbaum, Peter S. (1967) The grammar of English predicate complement
constructions. Cambridge, MA.: MIT Press.

Runner, Jeffrey T. (1995) Noun phrase licensing and interpretation. PhD
dissertation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.


Aroldo Andrade has research interests in syntax, morphology and historical
linguistics. His MA dissertation deals with causative alternation and
partial agreement of unaccusative constructions in Brazilian Portuguese.
He is presently researching the syntax of infinitive constructions in the
diachrony of Portuguese.
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