Hayes Introductory Linguistics p. 115Chapter 6: Syntax III — Subcategorization and Wh- Movement 1.Lexical insertion and subcategorization Our phrase structure rules generate, among many others, the following trees: A. S B. S NP VP NP VP | | | N V N V NP Art N We have so far assumed that words are inserted whose part of speech matches up to the appropriate node in the tree. However, closer inspection shows that this procedure frequently overgenerates. Thus, for instance, a verb like sigh may appear in tree A but not tree B: Fred sighed. *Fred sighed his fate. A verb like destroybehave in the reverse fashion: it can appear in B but not in A: Bill destroyed his car. *Bill destroyed. Verbs like destroy, which must take an object, are called transitiveverbs; verbs like ‘sigh’, which must not take an object, are called intransitive. Some verbs, such as eat, fit into both categories; they can be called “optionally transitive”. To avoid overgenerating in the way just shown, the theory needs a means of specifying the requirements of particular words for what tree structures they may appear in. The process of “inserting words into the tree” is called lexical insertion. The idea given here is that speakers possess a mental dictionary, generally referred to as the lexicon. Lexical insertion consists of extracting a word from the lexicon and inserting it into a syntactic tree. The entries in the lexicon contain the crucial information about what kinds of tree the words can be inserted into, in the form of a subcategorization frame.
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