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Review of  The Syntax of Ditransitives

Reviewer: Michael Don Anderson
Book Title: The Syntax of Ditransitives
Book Author: Elena Anagnostopoulou
Publisher: De Gruyter Mouton
Linguistic Field(s): Syntax
Issue Number: 16.956

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Date: Sun, 27 Mar 2005 17:38:01 -0700
From: Michael Don Anderson
Subject: The Syntax of Ditransitives: Evidence from Clitics

AUTHOR: Anagnostopoulou, Elena
TITLE: The Syntax of Ditransitives
SUBTITLE: Evidence from Clitics
SERIES: Studies in Generative Grammar 54
PUBLISHER: Mouton de Gruyter
YEAR: 2003

Michael Don Anderson, Department of Linguistics, University of Arizona


This monograph is intended for linguists with an interest in syntax, in
particular ditransitives (Dative and double- object constructions) as they
appear in different languages and as supported by clitics and NP
movement. The general argument presented is that some well-formedness
conditions arise only in certain instances of obligatory cliticization
(including double-cliticization). Because these well- formedness
conditions vary cross-linguistically, it provides an opportunity to
examine the interaction of the morpho-syntactic properties of double-
object (DO) constructions and the syntax of clitics -- which is the
secondary goal of this publication. Although there is an emphasis on
Greek to support the analysis, examples from English, Sesotho, French,
Japanese, Spanish, Icelandic, Danish, Norwegian, German and Dutch are also
included for typological contrast. An over-view of competing theories
with regard to these varying languages and their Dative/DO constructions
is provided as well. Anagnostopoulou follows the light applicative
(vAPPL) head and main verb decomposition proposed by Marantz (1993), and
distinguishes between DO constructions and prepositional Datives in terms
of her analysis (implicitly refuting the promotion of indirect-object (IO)
to direct object and demotion of direct object to adjunct as proposed by
Perlmutter and Rosen 1984; Larson 1988).


Chapter One presents the broad claims of the book as suggested above,
while Chapter Two looks at Dative clitics and NP-movement licensing to
support those claims. Chapter Three investigates the impact of Case, EPP
and Locality on Dative constructions; while Chapter Four points out how
clitics obviate some of these Locality effects. Finally, in Chapter Five,
she discusses restrictions on Dative constructions given Person-Case

In Chapter Two, the author presents the claim that dative phrases in Greek
are affected by the transitivity of the selecting predicate. Dative
arguments can be Genitive (DP, PP or clitic/double-clitic) in transitive
constructions; while in passives they cannot be Accusative (though she
claims that there are no such restrictions on clitic -- including clitic-
doubled -- DPs). She shows that this is supported not only by the Greek
data, but in English, French, Italian, Sesotho, Chechewa and Dutch as
well. In some instances, marginal constructions (Greek passives and
unaccusatives; and English passives related to DO constructions) are
improved by cliticization (or pronominalization for English). This is in
part on what she bases her argument for a contrast between three-way
Case/Agreement systems (such as Greek) and two-way Case/Agreement systems
(such as English). In the former, unaccusatives and passives function the
same with regard to DO constructions; while in the latter, the DO
construction is only licensed for passives (unaccusatives rely on PP
constructions). This typology is important for her later claims (e.g.
that EPP and Case must be checked separately to account for certain quirky

Chapter Three, which is the real meat of the book, looks first at case
theoretic accounts of NP movement in DO (and vAPPL) constructions. She
contrasts goal-centered approaches with theme-centered, differentiating
between true double-object languages and partial double-object languages.
She then discusses extending these approaches to Greek, wherein the goal
expresses Genitive or Dative Case and the theme expresses the Accusative.
Because these established theories do not in fact account for Greek, she
puts forth evidence that suggests that because Greek assigns a three-way
Case/Agreement system (the theme gets structural Case while Genitive and
Dative goals have inherent Case which is not suppressed in passives and
unaccusatives) that this contradicts the assumptions of both theme-
centered analyses and goal-centered accounts.

This lengthy chapter is organized as follows: Locality is considered, then
Case and the EPP, followed by the implications of c-command, and finally
Minimal Domains (under which the Minimal Link Condition (MLC) does not
apply within domains but rather only checks for well- formedness across
domains). The last section of Chapter Three raises Finite Complements, to
account for problems with the Greek verb 'fenete' ('seems').

Locality as defined in (122) below, is an important consideration to much
of the analysis presented. The author's claims rely on Locality with
regard to relativized features rather than the position of arguments (or
their features) (in contrast to Rizzi 1990). Her analysis is independent
with regard to movement theories (e.g. Move FF or Agree as the mechanism
for feature checking).

(122) If beta c-commands alpha, and t is the target of movement, then beta
is closer to t than alpha unless beta is in the same minimal domain as (i)
t or (ii) alpha.

She discusses the two main camps of interpretation of Case and EPP
features within the Minimalist framework -- those that follow Chomsky
(1995), where Case and the EPP are two separately satisfied requirements
of a derivation; and those that follow Chomsky (2000a, 2000b, 2001) where
the EPP triggers movement and Case is a by-product of Agree. She takes the
salient distinction between the two positions to be that in the latter,
only active phi-features trigger EPP movement to T, while in the 1995
version, the EPP can be satisfied by categories which lack Case or phi-
features (but have some other features which satisfy the requirement). It
is this older version of analysis that she adopts.

Anagnostopoulou argues that Icelandic quirkiness is in fact not dependent
upon Chomsky's (2000) definition of quirky Case as "theta-related inherent
Case with an additional structural Case feature" (p.88) because Japanese
Datives would not qualify under this definition (among other
considerations). She shows contrast between Greek and Icelandic which
argue against, as she puts it, "Case, agreement and EPP/Move being
collapsed into a single property 'quirky Case'" (p.88). In fact, she
argues that Greek and Icelandic provide evidence that the EPP must be
separated from agreement to account for the differences in quirky behavior
in certain varying restrictions.

She spends a great deal of time explaining the differences between how
Datives and Accusatives surface with regard to inherent and structural
Case, especially in passives contrasting with DO constructions. She
provides examples of passives from five different languages (English,
Japanese, Icelandic, German and Dutch) and places them in a typological
grouping wherein she finds that of the ten types of passives from these
languages, three require that the EPP and Case be checked separately (by
separate arguments). For example, Dative DPs with inherent Case reflect
EPP motivated movement to T (Icelandic) along with English IO PPs
(specific to inversion constructions). The remaining seven types follow
Chomsky's notion that (in quirky constructions) both Case and EPP are
satisfied at the same time (i.e., by the same DP). By the end of this
section she has presented arguments and examples for the claim that goal
DPs and PPs and theme DPs have Case and/or categorical features which can
be checked at T.

Under the notion of c-command, she discusses the relationship between A-
movement, linear order and hierarchical order, by examining well-
formedness restrictions on NP-movement (of goals and themes in passives).
She begins her discussion by making four claims: goal passives satisfy
Shortest Move by moving the goal (DP1) to T from a position higher than
the theme (DP2); theme passives are not allowed in constructions wherein
the theme crosses the higher goal DP (violating Shortest Move/Closest
Attract); theme passives then are only allowed when they are derived in
the same manner as goal passives (i.e., the theme is already in a higher
position and moves up from that higher position); and both goals and
themes block movement regardless of whether they bear structural or
inherent Case. She spends this section of the chapter supporting these
claims with examples from English, Japanese and Icelandic or explaining
why they don't apply. Furthermore, object shift (OS) is raised as a
diagnostic for DO constructions, particularly with regard to Mainland
Scandinavian (using examples from Swedish) and Icelandic, which display
different properties. This is a useful discussion given her claim that
these two languages are assumed to have the same syntax, for which she
provides a counter-argument (Swedish allows OS can be a non-local
derivation while Icelandic OS cannot). Her discussion (and main concern
with c-command) is that she typologically distinguishes between symmetric
(i.e. goal or theme may be passivized) and asymmetric passives (wherein
the behavior of goals and themes are different) and that this accounts for
some of the previously problematic data in various languages.

She makes an important generalization in this section that correlates
local versus non-local movement scope with surface order of the objects.
She finds that Parallel movement (cf. Richard 1997) corresponds with local
derivation (moving the higher DP to a higher position in passives); and
non-order preserving OS corresponds with a non-local derivation (raising
the lower DP across the higher DP as initially claimed to be illicit).

The section on Minimal Domains primarily focuses on establishing that the
MLC does not apply within domains (structuring it within the definition of
Locality (122) above) but rather only checks for well-formedness across
them. She provides examples of PP constructions that support her notion
that movement of two arguments within a domain is "free" and that in those
instances, the lower one can move across the higher one without sanction.
She furthermore provides independently motivated support for Marantz's
(1993) vAPPL construction, based on non-local non-order preserving
structures. Her examples of PPs from Greek, French and Italian are
accounted for in their distribution by this view of Minimal Domain and
Locality. She ties together the claims made about OS and symmetry of
passives in the context of vAPPL: passivization and OS are local
derivations in asymmetric languages (and multiple movement is order
preserving); passivization and OS permit the previously illicit non-local
derivation (crossing DPs) in symmetric languages (but multiple movement is
non-order preserving here). Crucially she says that IOs in DO
constructions are introduced by the vAPPL head merged above the VP
containing the theme (following and supporting Marantz 1993).

Chapter Four focuses on how clitics obviate some of the Locality effects
noted in Chapter Three, once again relying on the MLC definition (122
above). She looks at clitics in French, Italian and Greek; clitic-
doubling in Greek; scrambling in Dutch; A' movement in French, Italian and
Greek; clitics and doubling in Spanish; and then how Agree and Move work
in relation to pronouns on the Locality restrictions discussed to support
her claim for typological distinctions between languages. Here she argues
that violations of the MLC are obviated by Dative arguments (when clitics
or members of clitic doubling chains) because they fall into the (i) t
domain of (122). Her claim is that movement is allowed because the
cliticized goal/experiencer is in the same Minimal Domain as t which is
the target of movement. Toward the end of this section, she extends
arguments in favor of Japanese scrambling (ala Miyagawa 2001) to Dutch
scrambling based on cliticization and clitic-doubling. Different issues
are raised with clitic-doubling in Spanish, but she argues that the
grammaticality of monoclausal double-clitics in this language add further
support that clitics obviate MLC violations.

The properties of clitic-doubling follow from the claims she makes about
clitics in general, in terms of movement. Basically she states that a
chain is formed under movement between the clitic in T and the in situ
doubled DP. The higher argument surfaces as a clitic while the lower
surfaces as a DP. NP-movement is no longer restricted by the intervening
DP which has lost its D-features to cliticization.

Chapter Five focuses on a secondary problem with restrictions on DO
constructions -- that of Person constraints. She compares the Person/Case
restriction with the Person restriction to establish a unified theory to
account for what has been proposed. Features and feature-checking
relations are analyzed with regard to pronouns and Datives within the
context of these restrictions. In person restrictions, the author argues
that verbal phi-features are not eliminated simultaneously -- number is
checked separately from person. This occurs whenever the same head is
targeted (via Move or Agree) by both a Dative or Genitive IO argument and
a lower argument with structural Case. This results in a restriction
where the lower argument cannot check person but can only check number.
The distinction is that in quirky constructions, the phi- features reside
in T while in Person-Case environments, they reside in v-TR. Crucially
she states that person checking is only obligatory under Move/Agree, not
for in situ 1st or 2nd person pronouns.


This book is a well-written, easy to follow analysis of direct-object
constructions across a multitude of languages. It is a useful contribution
to the literature because it offers unified arguments which expressly
states how it affects competing theories related to the author's claims --
all the while establishing her typological claims. Multiple theories
within each of the sub-components of the analysis are considered (such as
base-generated versus derivational claims for languages scrambling
constructions), and the typology which the author proposes seems well-
founded, though there are some few problems which she elects not to
discuss (such as proposing that fronting examples in Greek support her
claims of the base-order of arguments in Greek, but without any analysis
of their construction).

One specific example in which she integrates external theories and
provides independent support for one claim over another is found in
Japanese scrambling. Scrambling in Japanese has two theoretical camps --
Miyagawa (1997) in favor of base-generated DO constructions and Tada
(1989), Saitao (1992), Ura (1996), and Yatsushiro (2001) in favor of
derived DO constructions. The author examines both theories within the
context of the data and her analysis and offers support in favor of the
Miyagawa theory.

As any good analysis should do, Anagnostopoulou anticipates potential
objections to some of her claims as she discusses them and then obviates
them. For example, one such objection comes from an argument that
cliticization along with multiple movement leads to crossing dependencies
(Richards 1997). Because this is the type of movement upon which she
relies at one point of her analysis of clitics, it is important that she
address this potential complaint -- which she does. She proposes
that "tucking in" does not occur in her analysis because the nominative
raises as an XP while the clitic is a head (or simply a set of features)
and that she avoids the problem with crossing dependencies which might
otherwise be expected. This type of anticipation and coverage of the
syntactic theories relevant to her analysis provide a very effective means
for letting the reader consider her claims, compare the data provided with
external analysis and come to their own conclusion. One disadvantage to
this is that while she covers a broad range of theories, she in some
instances offers a more superficial comparison/analysis of these external
theories with her own proposals, but it is a minor disadvantage given how
well she integrates all the components.

On a final note, it is nice that in this monograph the reader is not left
wondering if this analysis only applies to Romance languages or Germanic
languages or whether it in fact is more comprehensive; because not only
are multiple languages discussed, but multiple language families are
included as well.


Chomsky, Noam. 1995. Categories and transformations. In The Minimalist
Program, 219-394. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Chomsky, Noam. 2000a. Minimalist Inquiries: The framework. In: Roger
Martin, David Michaels and Juan Uriagereka (eds.), Step by step, 89-155.
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Chomsky, Noam. 2000b. Derivation by phase. In: Michael Kenstowicz (ed.),
Ken Hale. A Life in Language, 1-51. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Chomsky, Noam. 2001. Beyond Explanatory Adequacy. Ms., Department of
Linguistics and Philosophy, MIT. [Subsequently published in: Belletti,
Adriana (ed.). 2004. Structures and Beyond: The Cartography of Syntactic
Structure, volume 3, pp. 104-131. Oxford: Oxford University Press.]

Larson, Richard. 1988. On the Double Object Construction. Linguistic
Inquiry 19:335-392.

Marantz, Alec. 1993. Implications of asymmetries in double object
constructions. In: Sam Mchombo (ed.), Theoretical aspects of Bantu
grammar: 113-150. Stanford, CA: CSLI Publications.

Miyagawa, Shigeru. 1997. Against optional scrambling. Linguistic Inquiry
28: 1-25.

Miyagawa, Shigeru. 2001. The EPP, Scrambling and Wh-in-situ. In: Michael
Kenstowicz (ed.) Ken Hale. A Life in Language, 293-338. Cambridge, Mass.:
MIT Press.

Perlmutter, David M. and Carol G. Rosen (eds). 1984. Studies in Relational
Grammar II. Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press.

Rizzi, Luigi. 1990. Relativized Minimality. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Saito, Mamuro. 1992. Long distance scrambling in Japanese. Journal of East
Asian Linguistics 1: 69-118.

Tada, Hiroaki. 1989. Scramblings. Ms., Department of Linguistics and
Philosophy, MIT.

Ura, Hiroyuki. 1996. Multiple Feature-Checking: A Theory of Grammatical
Function Splitting. PhD. dissertation. Department of Linguistics and
Philosophy, MIT.

Yatsushiro, Kazuko. 2001. Case Licensing and VP Structure. Ph.D.
dissertation, University of Connecticut.


Michael Don Anderson is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Linguistics
at the University of Arizona. He obtained his M.A. in General Linguistics
at California State University at Fresno. His present interests include
diachronic American English syntax (specific to 'have' inversion), idiom
compositionality, contemporary productivity of allegedly inert morphemes,
and how dialectic variability can be accounted within a Minimalist
Framework (rather than strictly accounting for Narrow Syntax).