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What is the motivation to assume an unpronounced Pro when there is infinitival phrase in the context of phrase structure grammar?

Eg. I hope to hit the target.

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Slightly modified example from the Wikipedia page on PRO:

John_i promised Bill [CP [TP PRO_i to control the situation]]

John convinced Bill_j [CP [TP PRO_j to control the situation]]

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PRO_%28linguistics%29)

There's something that was proposed to be there in order to have a subject for the embedded TP, which corefers to a particular argument in the main clause when these (control) verbs are used. The relevance theta-roles is just the semantic side of things-- although most semanticists today agree that theta-roles do not exist, in favor of syntactic event structures that align with semantic event information. But even then, there should be something there to have a complete the event structure, or for case reasons.

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  • Thank you for this illustration. This answer is helpful to me! And I am wondering why most semanticists today agree that theta-roles do not exist. Could you please tell me more details so that I can know more about it? Thank you so much for your explanation.
    – Buffoon
    Nov 30 '21 at 3:54
  • I'm not sure I would be able to explain it too well (and I don't want to give you misinformation) but you may possibly find this talk helpful and interesting: youtube.com/watch?v=1_bjHrMunWo. :) Dec 2 '21 at 2:09
  • Thank you for sharing this link!
    – Buffoon
    Dec 8 '21 at 8:56

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