Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Three Monographs to Write

Here are the next three monographs that I want to write, presented in the order in which they will be written. Most of the material has already been written up (and posted on Lingbuzz and on my blog OrdinaryWorkingGrammarian in various forms).

I point out here that all three monographs concern the syntax-semantic interface, and the issue of whether particular phenomena should be given syntactic or semantic explanations. Taken together, they defend a particular highly syntactic view of the syntax-semantics interface.

If anybody would like to discuss these matters with respect to particular languages, please feel free to write to me. I would be happy to send you my papers, and to discuss your languages with you by e-mail or Facebook messenger.

The Implicit Argument in the Passive

This monograph addresses the issue of the understood argument in short passives like “The book was written in less than a week.” In this sentence, it is understood that somebody wrote the book. I defend the claim that in such sentences there is a syntactically projected implicit argument.  In particular, I argue against recent semantic approaches where implicit arguments are not syntactically projected.

Other issues addressed in the monograph include the status of the Theta-Criterion (the Theta-Criterion holds and imposes restrictions on semantic interpretation), the status of by-phrases (by-phrases are arguments, not adjuncts), the status of VoiceP (VoiceP does not introduce external arguments contra many current analyses of argument structure), the status of UTAH (UTAH holds, but as a theorem, not as a principle of UG).

The analyses of the monograph fall in the framework for analysis of the passive of Collins 2005.

Negating Quantifier Phrases

This monograph discusses examples where the universal quantifier is negated: “Not everybody likes syntax.” I argue that in such sentences the negation and the universal quantifier form a constituent [not everybody], which is the subject of the sentence. I review past literature on the topic, and argue against approaches where negation in such sentences projects a clausal NegP.

I extend these results by looking at wide range of other negative quantifier phrases (e.g., negated comparative quantifiers like not more than half), and explain why some kinds DPs cannot be negated (e.g, *not the man). I introduce a distinction between two types of negated quantifier phrases, those involving inner versus outer negation. I show that a range of properties distinguish the two types.

Other issues addressed in the monograph include negation and exceptive phrases, scalar modifiers of quantifier phrases (almost everybody), negating focus particles like even and only (not even John), type shifting, and the analysis of the prefix un- in examples like unhappy.

The analyses of the monograph fall in the framework for analysis of negation in Collins and Postal 2014.

The Scope of Ellipsis

This monograph argues that the scope of ellipsis in English (and hence UG) is much wider than has previously been assumed in the literature on ellipsis. I first survey the cases of ellipsis that appear in the literature and show that they fall into three main classes: VP-ellipsis, sluicing and NP-ellipsis. I then present the case of relative clause deletion, and extend the ideas to quantifier domain restriction, incomplete comparatives and adjunct deletion.

I survey the complete range of syntactic positions in English (e.g., complement of C) and show which ones support ellipsis and which ones do not. On the basis of these results, I develop a theory of ellipsis and its licensing different from previous approaches which do not recognize the widespread nature of the phenomenon.

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