Week 4 Theta Theory Lecture1AND2

# Week 4 Theta Theory - Markman Syntax Week 4 Lecture1 and 2 Theta-theory the EPP 1 Review October 1st 2007 October 3rd 2007 X bar theory and

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1 Markman October 1 st , 2007 S y n t a x O c t o b e r 3 rd , 2007 Week 4, Lecture1 and 2 Theta-theory, the EPP 1. Review Æ X’ bar theory and parametric variation in word order Æ how do we derive SOV by modifying our X’ theory? Æ why is it predicted that languages with SOV word order should have post-positions? Æ Given what was said so far about the structure of the NP, where should the determiner in an NP appear in an SOV language? Why? Æ What would have to be changed to have the determiner on the right of the noun? Æ Reviewing some things about movement: movement and traces Æ why traces are real. (refer to the notes from last time) 2. Theta-roles How do we know that John hit Bill is not the same as Bill hit John ? Æ Crucially, how do we capture this fact in the syntax? The difference between these two sentences is structural. Hence, it must be represented! Enter: Theta- Theory! We say that the verb assigns a theta-role = a semantic role = to its subject and (if it has one) its complement. These two NPs are called arguments of the verb. The types of theta-roles a verb takes is called the verb’s argument structure. John hit Bill John = agent ; Bill = theme/ patient We say that a transitive verb takes two arguments; an intransitive one takes only one. Are all intransitives created equal? – a digression John danced (a dance) / ran (a marathon) / walked (a mile) *John fell a nasty fall / arrived a quick arrival / existed a rotten existence The lesson: some intransitive verbs seem to be able to take a complement e.g. “dance” while other intransitive verbs cannot do so e.g “fall” * this will be relevant soon!* Æ end digression

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2 In the syntax, we represent the fact that verbs assign theta-roles (i.e. the verb’s argument structure ) as follows: V P NP V’ V N P Notice : the subject of the sentence now originates in spec VP, not spec TP, as we did before. This is known as the ‘VP-internal spec hypothesis’ due to Koopman and Sportiche 1989. The NP raises/ moves to spec TP for reasons that will become clear in the next few meetings. For now we will simply this structure. Or in the more modern and more high-tech way: v P NP v’ v VP N P V V Æ The verb assigns the agent theta-role (or we also say “Theta –marks” ) the subject and assigns the theme theta-role to the object Æ This captures in the syntactic, structural way the conceptual difference between John hit Bill and Bill hit John. In the first sentence John is the agent; in the second, it is the patient/ theme Æ The kinds of theta-roles the verb assigns are not limited to agents and themes. It could also include goals “give the book to bill” and experiencers “john is afraid of dogs”. The theta-roles a verb assigns to its complement and subject are specified in what we call the verb’s “theta-grid” Kill <agent, theme> Give <agent, theme, goal/recipient> Fear <experiencer, theme> Æ the theta-role assigned to the subject is the external theta-role; other theta-roles (those
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## This note was uploaded on 02/06/2011 for the course LING 322 taught by Professor David during the Spring '09 term at Simon Fraser.

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Week 4 Theta Theory - Markman Syntax Week 4 Lecture1 and 2 Theta-theory the EPP 1 Review October 1st 2007 October 3rd 2007 X bar theory and

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