2

How do I break down the Complement further in accordance with X bar theory.

COMPL

13
  • 1
    I believe it's no longer fashionable to use more than one Bar (i.e, no N-Double Bar); a very long sentence makes for an uncomfortable number of Bars. I don't know what they do now, instead, though. Perhaps they're color-coded? In McCawley's version of x-bar, the N-Double Bar node is simply an NP, which is not, like N' (pronounced "N-Bar"; bars are hard to wordprocess, while primes are easy), a phrase headed by an N, but rather is a different type, outside the X-Bar system. NP is the syntactic constituent type corresponding to the logical type Argument of Predicate.
    – jlawler
    May 4 '14 at 14:46
  • How do we break down the Complement though?
    – avkaapstad
    May 4 '14 at 14:54
  • Any way you like. I'd say it was [book [Adj [S ... S] Adj]], personally. (I wouldn't use X-bar at all; it adds nothing but complications and it's theoretically ill-defined.)
    – jlawler
    May 4 '14 at 15:02
  • 1
    X-bar syntax is worth knowing only for its historical value in the development of syntactic theory. Serious syntacticians rejected X-bar structures decades ago. May 4 '14 at 21:47
  • 1
    @hippietrail: I prefer to leave this open because it's not about a specific sentence, but rather about how X-bar deals with relative clauses.
    – prash
    May 5 '14 at 10:32
2

I've given what i deem to be a reasonably standard phrase-structure tree for a that-relative clause, consistent with the principles of X-bar theory below (taking Jackendoff, 1977 as a concrete reference). I'm assuming the DP hypothesis here (i.e. that 'a book...' is headed by a determiner rather than by the noun), but it's easy to re-cast this in terms on an NP if that displeases you.

enter image description here

Relative clauses are generally taken in generative syntax to involve wh-movement. Since there is no overt wh-word in a that-relative, this is modelled by positing a null relative operator. Evidence that relative clauses involve wh-movement comes from facts like the following: (i) Relative clauses can be formed using wh-words, as in (1):

(1) A book which i bought.

(ii) Relativisation seems to obey the same constraints as wh-movement, e.g. It can cross a finite clause boundary, as indicated by (2):

(2) A book that Vera said Op_i that John had bought t_i.

(iii) Relativisation is blocked by the presence of a syntactic island. Sensitivity to islandhood is generally taken as being diagnostic of, or even definitional of wh-movement. This can be illustrated by the fact that (2) is ungrammatical, where movement out of a syntactic island - Specifically, a complex subject:

(3) *A book Op_i that a copy of t_i was stolen

Example (4) Shows that wh-movement out of a complex subject leads to ungrammaticality:

(4) *Which book was a copy of t_i stolen?

(iv) There are languages in which an overt realisation of a wh-word alongside that in a relative clause is grammatical, e.g. in Middle English:

(5) thy freend which that thou has lorn (cmctmeli.m3, 218.C1.31) 'your friend that you have lost' (Retrieved from: http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~beatrice/syntax-textbook/ch11.html)

1
  • I would do the same. The only tiny thing that I think you have just forgot is to coindex book and operator.
    – Dariya
    May 6 '14 at 23:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.