Week 4 and 5 notes Theta Theory meets Case Theory

Week 4 and 5 notes Theta Theory meets Case Theory - Vita...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
1 Vita Markman 10/9/07 Syntax Week 5, Lecture 2: Case theory meets Theta theory 1. Review: Some remarks on theta-theory and follow-up questions The Theta-Criterion = Each argument (a referential NP) bears one and only one theta- role and each theta-role must be assigned to one and only one argument (Chomsky 1981). In addition, the verb that has a theta-role to assign to its argument must do so. An un- discharged theta-role causes the sentence to become ill-formed. No theta-role for the NP: (1) *John seems that Bill is tired = it seems to John that Bill is tired. (2) *John was eaten the cake = the cake was eaten by John Two theta-roles for one NP: (3) * the donut(i) ate __t(i) (meaning ‘the donut was eaten’) An undischarged theta-role in the verb’s thematic-grid: (4) The man saw _ (meaning the man saw someone) Linking = the relation between the semantic categories of the arguments of a predicate and their syntactic positions (Pesetsky 1996:2). For example, linking tells use that the Agent of the verb ‘hit’ has to be projected as the subject, not the object. Agents are linked higher than Patients / Themes (i.e. subjects are linked higher than objects) V P NP(sub) V’ V N P ( o b j ) Linking is the crucial point at which our conceptualization of events and their participants becomes a part of syntax. I will come back to the topic of linking shortly Traces and theta-roles Consider the following sentence (5) John(i) is likely to t(i) leave on time (6) Who is t(i) leaving?
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
2 (7) What did John see t(i) ? Remember: the theta-role is assigned to the trace position. The actual element that moves, such as ‘John’ in (5) cannot receive a theta-role again in spec TP. There is ONE theta- role per CHAIN, where CHAIN = the moved element + its trace Passives and theta-roles Why is there movement to the subject position possible in the passive sentence such as (8) The donut(i) was eaten t(i) by John Looking a little bit ahead, why do you think the movement to the subject position is necessary? In other words, (8’) * it was eaten the donut by john What is the significance of the passive morpheme /-en/ with respect to theta- assignment? Put another way, how can we explain the ungrammaticality of (9) (9) *John was stolen the car? (meaning ‘the car was stolen by John’) 2. Linking – revisited When a child learns a particular verb, they also learn the theta-roles it assigns, the category of its complements (CP, NP, PP) [i.e. its subcategorization frame], and the kind of thing its arguments have to be [semantic selection ]. A child also learns that the agent of a given verb is linked to the subject position while the patient/theme is linked to the object position. But, do we learn which theta-roles are linked to which positions on a verb-by-verb basis
Background image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Page1 / 7

Week 4 and 5 notes Theta Theory meets Case Theory - Vita...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 3. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online