Semantic and Syntactic Aspects of Romance Sentential Complementation

A. R. Rochette, 1988

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This dissertation is a study of different semantic and syntactic aspects of sentential complementation in the Romance languages.  A general theory of sentential complementation is developed to account both for the numerous syntactic differences found among the different types of sentential complements and for the selectional properties of the semantic classes of main predicates that select these complements.

In chapter 1, a semantic classification of main predicates is introduced.  Three main classes of predicates are distinguished:  effective, emotive, and propositional predicates.  The major leading hypothesis of this disseration is also introduced in that chapter.  It is argued that the three semantic classes of predicates s-select distinct semantic types of sentential complements which also correspond to distinct structural types of complements.

Chapter 2 is a study of the complements of effective verbs.  It is argued that the effective verbs select the semantic type action and that the structural realization of action is a projection of the category V, usually an infinitival complement in Romance.  A good part of the chapter is concerned with the analysis of the so-called restructuring phenomenon.  It is argued that the crucial property underlying restructuring is the possibility for certain matrix verbs to not have an E-position in their thematic grids.  When these matrix verbs lack an E-position they behave like auxiliary verbs and the matrix INFL can theta-bind an E-position of the embedded predicate.  It is also argued that the prepositions that introduce complements to effective verbs should be analyzed as instances of Case spelling rather than as complementizers.  With some effective verbs, action can also be realized as a projection of the category N.  It is shown that these complements are necessarily interpreted as "concealed actions".

Chapter 3 is a study of the complements to emotive verbs.  It is argued that the emotive verbs select the semantic type event and that the structural realization of event is a projection of the category INFL.  Depending on the value of the feature (Tense) under INFL, the complement will either appear as a subjunctive complement or as an infinitival complement.  Different phenomena characteristic of subjunctive complements are examined, such as the well-known obviative phenomenon and other transparency effects which are analyzed as following form the fact that the head of the complement is INFL.  It is also argued that the possible presence of certain types of sentential operators (factivity, modality, etc.) may create some opacity effects for these subjunctive complements.  Certain syntactic constructions that appear to distinguish the complements to emotive verbs from the other types of complements are also studied in that chapter and it is argued in each case that their existence provides further evidence in support of a structural distinction of the complements to emotive verbs.

In chapter 4, the complements to propositional verbs are examined.  It is argued that propositional verbs select the semantic type proposition and that the structural realization of proposition is normally a projection of the category COMP.  It is shown that this claim accounts for the Romance infinitival complements to propositional verbs but appears to be contradicted by the behavior of the English infinitival complements which are often analyzed as IP"s rather than CP"s.  An analysis in terms of Case-marking differences between English and the Romance languages is developed to account for this difference.

Thesis supervisor:         Noam Chomsky

Title:                             Institute Professor

Table of Contents

Chapter 1         Introduction                                                                                          9

            1.1       Introduction to the thesis                                                                       11

                        1.1.1    Semantic verb classes                                                               18

                        1.1.2    Syntactic differences among sentential complements       24

                           The restructuring construction                            27

                           Verbs of obligatory control                                           29

                           Subjunctive vs. indicative                                              32

                           Exceptional Case Marking                                            33

                        1.1.3    The syntactic differences correlate with semantic classes            34

                        1.1.4    The theory of semantic selection                                                36

                           S-selection and c-selection                                            37

                           Actions, events and propositions                                 42

                           The canonical lexical realization                         45

                        1.1.5    The limits of this study                                                   47

            1.2       Introduction to the theoretical framework                                              51

            1.3       The thesis in a nutshell                                                               57

Notes to chapter 1                                                                                                        59

Chapter 2         Effective verbs                                                                         

            2.1       Introduction                                                                                          60

            2.2       The complements to "restructuring" verbs                                              73

                        2.2.1    The restructuring construction                                        76

                        2.2.2    Restructuring is the absence of an embedded INFL                   81

                           Manifestations of INFL                                     85

                           Object preposing                                                          91

                           Clitic-climbing                                                   96

                           The change of auxiliary phenomenon                             108

                        2.2.3    The interpretation of restructuring structures                               115

            2.3       Modern French vs. Old French and other Romance languages   124

                        2.3.1    The placement of clitics in Romance                                          129

                           Clitics under VP                                                           131

                           Clitics under INFL                                                        133

                        2.3.2    The null subject parameter                                                        136

                        2.3.3    The nominal character of infinitives                                            138

                        2.3.4    Explaining the change from Old French to Modern French         141

            2.4       The theoretical implications of VP complements                         144

                        2.4.1    The Extended Projection Principle                                             145

                        2.4.2    The Theta-criterion                                                                   147

                        2.4.3    The raising/control distinction                                        148

            2.5       Infinitival complements introduced by de/a                                             172

                        2.5.1    The distribution of infinitivals introduced by de/a                        173

                        2.5.2    The status of de/a                                                                     175

                           Kayne (1981)                                                               177

                           Manzini (1982)                                                 181

                           Rizzi (1982)                                                                  185

                        2.5.3    Case-marking and the status of the prepositions             188

                           The effective verbs                                                        189

                           The emotive verbs                                                        198

                           The propositional verbs                                     207

            2.6       The S-selection of effective verbs                                                          209

            2.7       Rumanian                                                                                             215

            2.8       More on the effective verbs                                                                   221

                        2.8.1    The "non-restructuring" effective verbs                           222

                        2.8.2    The causative construction                                                        227

                        2.8.3    The object control verbs                                                           234

Appendix to Chapter 2                                                                                     240

Notes to Chapter 2                                                                                                       241

Chapter 3         Emotive verbs

            3.1       Introduction                                                                                          251

            3.2       The obviative phenomenon in subjunctive complements              263

                        3.2.1    The complements to volitional verbs                                          268

                        3.2.2    The complements to volitional nominals                         271

                        3.2.3    Subjunctive complements involving epistemic modals     273

            3.3       Subjuncitve vs. indicative complements                                      280

                        3.3.1    A subject-object asymmetry in subjunctive complements           281

                        3.3.2    Other differentiating properties of subjunctive clauses     294

                           The particles oui/non                                                    294

                           Extraposition of non-restrictive relatives             295

                           Clefts                                                                           297

                           Stylistic-inversion                                                          298

            3.4       The phenomenon of quantifier-movement in French                               300

            3.5       The complements to factive emotive predicates                          306

                        3.5.1    The selection of factive complements                                         309

                        3.5.2    The SDR effect with factive complements                                  310

                        3.5.3    Subject extraction with factive complements                              312

                        3.5.4    The Portuguese inflected infinitives                                             313

Notes to Chapter 3                                                                                                       320

Chapter 4         Propositional verbs                                                                              

            4.1       Introduction                                                                                          326

            4.2       The infinitival complements to propositional verbs                                  330

            4.3       The small clause complements to propositional verbs                 349

Notes to Chapter 4                                                                                                       356