SLASH propagation vs. internal merge: Rewind

Borsley R D rborsley at
Mon Jun 6 15:55:45 EST 2005


Actually I also mentioned the comparative correlative construction, with
the following data:

No matter how clever the students (are) ___, ...
The students *(are) very clever.

I discuss this in my paper in HPSG 2004. It looks like a serious problem
for the copy theory of movement to me.



Prof. Robert D. Borsley
Department of Language and Linguistics
University of Essex
Wivenhoe Park

rborsley at
tel: +44 1206 873762
fax: +44 1206 872198

On Mon, 6 Jun 2005, Tibor Kiss wrote:

> Hi,
> I would like to clarify what I had in mind when I posed my question.
> One point was to look at the empirical reasons for assuming that SLASH does
> not contain NONLOCAL information. The other point was to ask whether the
> distinction between partial filler-gap-identity vs. full identity could be
> made a crosstheoretical issue.
> It seems -- somewhat surprisingly -- that a competetive comparison of
> theories is not possible even in areas where the other theory (humbly
> referred to as a 'program') is lucid and clear, be it simply for the reason
> that we are short of empirical phenomena to justify a theoretical point.
> The following arguments in favour of a partial filler-gap-identity have been
> raised:
> 1) Partial VP topicalization and the LEX +/- contrast (Stefan Müller, Detmar
> Meurers)
> 2) Principle A and Principle C reconstruction (TK, Stefan Müller)
> 3) Pseudo-Cleft (Bob Borsley)
> 4) Parasitic Gaps (Howard Gregory, Carl Pollard)
> 5) Chamorro-type SLASH marking (Carl Pollard)
> I think that the following remarks are ok:
> Ad 1) [and 5)]
> The analysis suggested by Stefan and Detmar assumes that something is a head
> (LEX +) at its extraction site but has to be a phrase (LEX -) at its landing
> site. The problem is that the phenomenon is not pervasive, i.e. we know of
> very little cases where the landing site type is forced to be different from
> the extraction site type. The partial VP analysis seems to cover the facts
> but that's it. In addition, it rests on a dubious feature (LEX), which is
> NONLOCAL to make the analysis work and for no other reason. [** Fn: People
> who know my work on German infinitives will recall that I explicitly
> preferred not to have an analysis of PVP instead of adopting one akin to
> Stefan and Detmar's solution.]
> In any case, I don't believe that the copy theory of movement can be
> seriously challenged with an obscure construction and the difference between
> LEX+ and LEX-.
> I think that the Chamorro-case should be taken in the same way: The
> phenomenon is not pervasive and in fact, we don't know whether languages
> exist which actually mark an XP[SLASH Y[QUE ZP]].
> Ad 2)
> These cases show that the 'standard theory of binding' in HPSG (PS 1994) has
> problems with reconstruction and nothing more, as has already been hinted at
> by Stefan, who offers the following example:
> > (2) a. Kennt er_*i Karls_i Freund?
> >     b. [Karls_i Freund]_j kennt er_*i  _j.
> While this example could be discussed away by assuming that Principle C does
> not exist, we get the same problems with Principle A, witness
> [1] Which picture of himself_i/j does John_i say Peter_j likes.
> At first, [1] seems to show that Principle A in HPSG does it right, because
> both indexations are surprisingly possible. Note, however, that structurally
> identical examples in German and other languages (one could call it *the
> majority*) do not allow the _i-coindexing. So an appropriate cousin of [1]
> runs into the same problems as Stefan's (2b).
> Ad 3)
> I have never worked on pseudo-cleft, but in order to make the contrast work,
> one would have to assume that pseudo-clefts are derivationally related to
> the ungrammatical examples provided by Bob.
> > What he may do ___ is go home.
> > *He may do go home.
> Ad 4)
> The parasitic gaps seem to be the most interesting candidates. However,
> Carl's recent email made it clear to me that they seem to be as problematic
> to HPSG as they possibly are to MP. Carl points out the ungrammaticality of
> [2] can be derived from the observation that "there is no way for the gap in
> the upper filler (i.e. _i, TK) to get linked with the object gap."
> [2] *[Without even reading _i]_j, [I don't know [[how many reports]_i [Kim
> [[filed _i] _j]]]]
> But how can this example be excluded in HPSG? There is no general --
> possibly non-local -- condition to the effect that unlinked
> filler-gap-relations are illicit in HPSG (there could be a coindexation
> _i/_k, where all the information about _i is identical to all the
> information about _k).
> One could add a constraint requiring that roots do not contain SLASHes
> (while [2] does). However, such a constraint misses the generalization
> (which is taken seriously in MP work, but originally led to things like the
> Subcategorization Principle) that roots do not like any open dependency
> (i.e. a root with open SLASH is as out as a sentence with SUBCAT <NP>).
> Even if we ignore this and include such a constraint, how do we block
> something like [3]?
> [3] [The book]_k,  [[without even reading _k]_j, [I don't know [[how many
> reports]_i [Kim [[filed _i] _j]]]]]
> In sum, if I see this correctly, while one may have a hunch that the copy
> theory has its problems, it seems that we are unable to take advantage of
> these. How unfortunate.
> With kind regards,
> Tibor
> ------------------------------------------
> Prof. Dr. Tibor Kiss
> Sprachwissenschaftliches Institut - Ruhr-Universität Bochum
> +49-234-3225114 // +49-177-7468265

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