Copular, Nominal, and Small Clauses: A Study of Israeli Hebrew

T. R. Rapoport, 1987

for $19.95 x

This dissertation is a study of structures of verbless predication in Israeli Hebrew and English.  Predicative and equative nominal and copular constructions are closely examined, as are embedded subject-predicate constructions ("small" clauses).

Chapters 2 and 3 explore the thematic relations and corresponding syntactic properties of two major classes of nominal and copular constructions: predicative and equative.  It is claimed that while in predicative sentences the predicate XP assigns a theta-role to the referential subject; in equatives, both NPs are referential, and neither assigns a theta-role.  The identity relation of equative sentences is shown to require the mediation of a functional head (e.g. INFL), whereas the predication relation of predicative sentences does not.  It is assumed that small clauses have no functional head; they therefore are never read as equative.  The study of small clauses in Chapter 4 allows, in turn, a refinement in the principles constraining the predication relation.

In Hebrew, the present tense equivalents of copular constructions contain no verb.  Such nominal sentences are discussed in Chapter 2 of this thesis, and their syntactic and semantic properties are studied.  Under the assumptions about copular constructions argued for in this thesis, the Israeli Hebrew nominal sentences are seen to offer strong evidence in favour of a syntactic and thematic division of such verbless constructions into two classes: predicative and equative.

There are two nominal sentence types.  One type is analysed as a matrix small clause, an analysis which, along with certain assumptions about small clause structures in general, correctly predicts its properties and behaviour.  A second nominal sentence construction is analysed as a full (tenseless) clause, headed by the Case-assigning AGR in INFL.  this analysis, together with a strict view of AGR as a bundle of features, accounts for the distribution and semantic properties of this nominal sentence type.

In Chapter 3, the properties of predicative and equative copular constructions in general, and in English in particular, are discussed.  Arguments are given to support a thematic and syntactic distinction between predicatives and equatives.  It is claimed further that the relevant characterization of this distinction is to be made solely in terms of the thematic relation involved in each construction type.  This makes possible a simple classification of copular constructions.

In the theory of copular constructions outlined in this chapter, noun phrases of every type (e.g. definite, or proper NPs) can be used predicatively, under specific interpretations.  The verb be is argued to have no semantic content, nor thematic role, in either predicative or equative constructions.  Thus, it follows that noun phrases can be licensed even when they do not receive a theta-role projected from a predicator"s argument structure.

Chapter 4 deals with the facts of embedded subject-predicate constructions in Israeli Hebrew.  It is demonstrated that there is a limited class of argument small clauses in Hebrew, and it is argued that the small clause possibilities are limited due to the presence in Hebrew of a restriction on Case assignment: all verbal Case assignment must be theta-related.  Small clauses are found in Hebrew only in those sentences whose matrix verb is causative.  The fact that causative verbs and affixes require the incorporation of the second predicate is what allows the requirement in Hebrew Case assignment to be met.  Embedded subject-predicate constructions which are not an argument of the verb, on the other hand, are comparatively free in Israeli Hebrew, since they do not constitute a violation of the Case-marking restriction.

As part of the account of small clauses, an analysis of their structure in terms of projection sets is presented.  This analysis in turn allows the revision of the restriction on the domain of theta-marking in general, and on the predication relation in particular.

Thesis supervisor:         Kenneth Hale

Title:                             Ferrari P. Ward Professor of Linguistics

Table of Contents

Chapter 1         Introduction                                                                                          11

            1.1       Theoretical assumptins " GB theory                                                      11

                        1.1.1    Levels of representation                                                            11

                        1.1.2    D-structure                                                                               12

                        1.1.3    The projection principle                                                            13

                        1.1.4    S-structure                                                                               13

                        1.1.5    The Case filter                                                                          14

                        1.1.6    PF                                                                                            14

                        1.1.7    LF                                                                                            15

                        1.1.8    The theta criterion and visibility                                      15

                        1.1.9    The principle of full interpretation                                               16

                        1.1.10  The Empty Category Principle and configurational notions          17

            1.2       Predication and Williams" theta theory                                       18

                        1.2.1    Small clauses                                                                            22

            1.3       Introduction to this thesis                                                                       23

                        1.3.1    Chapter 2                                                                                 23

                        1.3.2    Chapter 3                                                                                 24

                        1.3.3    Chapter 4                                                                                 25

                        1.3.4    Chapter 5: Appendix                                                                26

Chapter 2         Nominal sentences in Israeli Hebrew                                                     27

            2.1       Introduction                                                                                          27

                        2.1.1    The copula in Hebrew                                                               27

                        2.1.2    Predicative and equative nominal sentences                               28

                        2.1.3    H                                                                                             34

                           Against H as subject                                                     36

                           Against H as verb                                                         39

                        2.1.4    A note on INFL specification in Hebrew tenses             49

                           AGR                                                                            51

            2.2       Doron"s analysis of nominal sentences                                       52

                        2.2.1    Problems with Doron"s analysis                                     54

                           Sentences without H                                                     56

                        2.2.2    A ntoe on Hebrew word order                                      57

            2.3       H as INFL and case assigner                                                                61

                        2.3.1    H as AGR                                                                                62

                        2.3.2    Equative constructions                                                  64

                        2.3.3    Matrix small clauses                                                                  69

                           Case in matrix small clauses                                          73

                        2.3.4    A brief survey of nominal sentences in Russian and Arabic         81

                        2.3.5    Relative clauses and long-distance questions                              83

                           COMP and small clauses                                              88

                        2.3.6    Declaratives                                                                              93

                           Predicatives                                                                  93

                           Equatives                                                                      94

                           Long wh-movement revisited                                        95

                        2.3.7    Pronouns in nominal sentences                                      101

                           Doron on pronouns                                                       104

                           H as subject                                                                 107

                           Wh in nominal sentences                                               112

            2.4       Definite predicates                                                                                116

            2.5       A note on generic subjects                                                                    120

            2.6       Conclusion                                                                                           123

Chapter 3         Copular constructions                                                                           125

            3.1       Introduction                                                                                          125

                        3.1.1    Predicative and equative constructions                           126

            3.2       Against an "inversion" analysis                                                   128

            3.3       Syntactic distinctions between predicatives and equatives                       133

            3.4       The thematic relations in copular constructions                           137

                        3.4.1    Predication                                                                               137

                        3.4.2    Against two verbs Be                                                                139

                        3.4.3    Equation                                                                                   143

                        3.4.4    Embedded small clauses and equatives                          152

            3.5       Be-support                                                                                           155

                        3.5.1    Be vs. Do                                                                                 159

                        3.5.2    Main verb be                                                                            160

            3.6       Case in equatives                                                                                  162

            3.7       Definite NPs as predicates                                                                    166

                        3.7.1    Definite NPs as roles or offices                                     169

                        3.7.2    Proper names as roles                                                               171

                        3.7.3    A note on relative clauses                                                          174

            3.8       Against a feature [predicative]                                                   176

            3.9       Against a classification of copular constructions by referentiality 180

                        3.9.1    Ahmajian and reference                                                            181

                        3.9.2    Higgins" classification by referentiality                            183

                           Specificational sentences                                               185

                           Identificational sentences                                               187

                        3.9.3    The classification of copular constructions                                  191

            3.10     Conclusion                                                                                           193

Chapter 4         Embedded small clauses in Israeli Hebrew                                             196

            4.1       Introduction                                                                                          196

            4.2       Exceptional Case Marking                                                                    197

                        4.2.1    An apparent counter-example                                                   199

            4.3       The structure of small clauses                                                                203

                        4.3.1    Structural restrictions on theta-marking                          206

                        4.3.2    Issues raised by small clause structures                          210

                           The projection principle                                                210

                           Asymmetry of domains                                     212

                           Extraction                                                                     215

                        4.3.3    A structural restriction on Case-marking                                    217

            4.4       A thematic restriction on Case-marking                                     219

                        4.4.1    Adjunct predicate constructions                                                222

            4.5       Embedded small clauses in Hebrew                                                       223

                        4.5.1    Causative incorporation                                                            228

                           A revised Case-marking restriction                                229

            4.6       Conclusion                                                                                           234

                        4.6.1    Embedded small clauses in Arabic                                             235

Chapter 5         Appendix:  matrix small clauses and functional categories                       237

            5.1       Introduction                                                                                          237

            5.2       Articles                                                                                     238

                        5.2.1    The indefinite article                                                                  238

                        5.2.2    Hebrew DP predicates                                                             240

                           Hebrew superlative noun phrases                                  243

                        5.2.3    Haitian matrix small clauses                                                       245

                        5.2.4    Modifiers in Spanish predicative noun phrases               247

            5.3       Irish predicates and tense                                                                      248

            5.4       Extended visibility                                                                                 250

                        5.4.1    Embedded small clauses                                                           251

                        5.4.2    Adjunct predicates                                                                    253

                        5.4.3    Extended visibility and arguments                                              255

            5.5       Russian predicates and instrumental Case                                              256

            5.6       Papago and secondary predicates                                                         257

            5.7       Conclusion                                                                                           258