Linguistics 322

Intermediate Syntax

.Consider the following NPs:

(1)     lion

(2)     female lion

(3)     male lion

(4)     lioness.

Let us with the following assumption: LION consists of the conceptual features that refer to a lion excluding its gender. Examples (1)-(4) share the feature LION. Both female lion and lioness can have the same referent and they share the same information content (sense). All four examples may refer to the same referent but they do not share the same information content (sense). The conceptual form for female lions contains LION+[+FEM], whereas the conceptual form for lion is just LION. The conceptual form for a male lion is LION+[-FEM]. Square brackets are used to denote specific features.

Now let us assume that the lexicon contains the following four lexical entries (among thousands of others) which contain the following conceptual features amongst other features:

(5)     lion, LION

(6)     lion+ess, LION+[+FEM]

(7)     female, [+FEM]

(8)     male, [-FEM].

Now consider the following three sentences. Assume here that the prenominal modifier and the relative clause are restircted. Lioness can have only a restricted meaning:

(9)       The lioness is angry.

(10)     The female lion is angry.

(11)     The lion that is female is angry.

It is possible that both lioness and female lion refer to same creature (referent) and when they do they both share the same information content (note that lion may also refer to a very brave person, but lioness does not, it only refers to the feline referent). The conceptual structure for both (9) and (10) is the following (the grammatical features of relevance, aspect, and voice are omitted for the sake of brevity). The nominal feature [-Pl] is included as it is required by English grammar. Number is an operator the nature of which put aside here (see.proposition structure of nouns):


In the first lexical pass, LION+{+FEM] can be linked either to the noun lioness, or LION can be linked to the noun lion and [+FEM] to the adjective female. In the former case N is inserted which contains LION+[+FEM]. In the latter case N is inserted for LION and then NP is inserted. A is then inserted and then AP is inserted which is adjoined to NP (or N-bar):


How do we know when to choose l;lioness female lion? The decision is not grammatically based. It is based (in whole or in part) on social-linguistic factors. Some of the deciding factors are lioness is more erudite than female lion. Another one is that the speaker may wish to not offend feminists. The are probably other factors as well.

One of the problems that occurs here is just how does adjective become adjoined to NP or N-bar?

The question in the preceding paragraph indicates that there could be more to the story than what we have discussed above. Adjectives denote states and some take one argument and some take two. Female takes one argument:

(13)     The lion is female:

(14)     E-Proposition: [+FEM] <theme: LION>.

Suppose we incorporate the E-Proposition in (14) as the experiencer argument in (11):


We are just concentrating here on the experiencer. Going to the lexicon for the second pass, there are two possible spell-outs. In the first pass to the lexicon, [+FEM] is initially linked to the adjective female. and is assigned the category A which is expanded to expanded to AP. In the second pass to the lexicon the adjective LION is spelled out as lion. and [+FEM] is spelled out as female.

In the second spell-out process, [+FEM] is linked to the weak affix '-ess,' and LION is linked to the noun lion.:


which contains the features [+FEM] and LION. The second spell-out does not create a problem. The first one does. (15) is mapped into (16). We are not showing the intermediate steps:


First let us look further into the theory of propositional logical form. Thjere are two elemntary components: the eventuality and its modifiers and the object and its modifiers. An object can make reference to an eventuality such as destruction, pleasure, peace, argument, but it behaves like an object. Other objects are pure objects such as man, house, pen, book, tree. It has been observed in syntactic theory that there are two kinds of cycles: S (CP) and NP. The former is concerned with eventualities, the latter with objects. Besides lexical verbs that take objects as arguments, there are the cognitive verbs that take eventualities as arguments. We are familiar with those that take tensed clauses, but there are others that take infinitives and gerunds.

The argument of emotive verbs and adjectives (states) must be an object and be [+Animate]. Objects are NPs in most if not all languages. Suppose we clearly identify the experiencer argument as an object as in (11):

Incorporation is hard to define. Let's start with an example:

(16)     It rains (every day).

Let's just concentrate on the subject and the verb.



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