Linguistics 322

contents: Subject-Predication Prnciple | Nominative Case Assignment

Let us start this discussion by looking at the lowered structure proposed in the file on lowering (Lowering). T governs V, and V governs NP. The features of T are copied to V:


(1) is not an appropriate sentence e of English. Like all sentences of English (with some possible exceptions), a subject is required. Initially, we introduce the following principle (proposed by Chomsky):

(2)     The Extended Projection Principle

All clauses require a subject.

(A verb must be licensed by a subject.)

A better name would be the subject-predication Principle. To achieve this goal, the features of the only argument of swim are copied upwards (this process is often called raising) to the subject position. In the two level hypotheses, the subject is raised and adjoined to TP (or VP that immediately dominates T):


In X-bar theory, VP (TP) dominates V-bar (Ý) which dominates T:


Nominative Case

According the Chomsky's theory of tense, tense is divided into two features: [±Tense]. The feature [+Tense], which contains [±Past], assigns the nominative Case (see Case.theory), not to the right, but to the left. Chomsky refers this odd sense of Case-assignment as the exceptional case of Case assighnment. Hence in figure (3) or (4), Johnin situ cannot be assigned Case. In view of this claim, John must raise once again, being adjoined to TP or becoming a sister T-bar:


In the 3-level X-bar version, the lower TP is T-bar:


According to Chomsky T assigns the nominative Case to the left to NP in subject position. Now John has Case, the Case filter allows the structures to survive. Note that the feature [+Past] remains in situ as well as in the verb to which and with which it merged. This follows from Chomsky's theory that movement leaves a copy of each node. Under normal conditions, the phonetic information of the original is erased, while it is spelled out in one form or another in its moved-to position. It is the feature [+Past] that assigns the nominative Case to the left. If we adopt the Case feature version Case, the empty Case feature in John (or any subject) is filled with [-Acc] (see Case.theory). First, all nouns must be marked for Case. This feature is empty in the lexical entry:

 John  orthographic form
 +N, -V Category
 +Count Countable

Like number, Case must be filled. If it is not filled, then noun is rendered ungrammatical. The feature [±Pl] is not inherent in nouns. It is an operator whose argument is a noun (see Logical Structure of Noun Agreement).

If a verb takes two arguments the questions arises which argument is assigned to the complement of the verb, and which argument is assigned to the external position (see Argument Assignment). Consider the following sentence:

(8)     Luis chose a problem.

The logical structure for (8) is the following; the lower verbal operators are omitted for brevity:


In the next step, we'll go to the lexicon extracting categorial terms, lower [+Past], go back to the lexicon completing the D-structure including merge. Recall that in logical structure, there is no linear ordering. In syntax (English and many languages) there is linear ordering. By the theta hierarchy, the theme (the lowest theta-role), is assigned to Comp-V (the first position) and the agent Luis occurs in second position.:


The verb assigns the accusative Case to its complement. However, Luis remains unmarked for Case. To find Case and to satisfy the Extended Projection Principle, the features of LUIS raise, looking for a suitable position. It first raises and is adjoined to VP or is raises to Spec-V:


The problem here is that T, [+Past] does not assign Case to the right. It can only assign the nominative Case to the left. Therefore, Luis must raise once again:


We now have a well-formed sentence representing (8) above.

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