1

Please consider the following:

(0) For Bill to have been arrested so soon was disappointing.

(1) ?It was disappointing for Bill to have been arrested so soon.

If the sentence (1) is grammatical, it seems to suggest, that disappointing is an adjective which has one theta-role available. Compare:

(2) That Bill has been arrested so soon disappointed Mary.

(3) That Bill has been arrested so soon was disappointing (for Mary).

See also:

(4) It was disappointing that Bill was arrested so soon.

(5) That Bill was arrested so soon was disappointing.

One analysis might posit two traces in the sentence (0):

[CP For Bill1 to have been arrested t1 so soon]2 was disappointing t2.

So the D-structure is:

e2 was disappointing [CP for e1 to have been arrested Bill so soon].

It makes the analysis of sentence (1) obvious. If the analysis is incorrect, how could you explain (1)?

Another analysis might be (D-structure):

[CP for e1 to have been arrested Bill so soon] is disappointing.

In this case the CP has to move to a position after disappointing:

e2 is disappointing [CP for e1 to have been arrested Bill so soon].

But what position could it move into? In addition it should leave a trace, not "it".

Which of those two analyses is correct (if any)? If the first one is correct it seems like "is disappointing" works like an unaccusative/passive verb. How to analyze it? "disappointing" is an adjective, but what is the copula? (I or V?)

Some analyzes are:

[I' [I -s] [VP [V' [V be] [AP [A' [A disappointing] [CP trace] ] ] ] ] ]

"-s" is an auxiliary "be" is a verb

[I' [I is] [AP [A' [A disappointing] [CP trace] ] ] ]

"is" is an auxiliary

What is the correct analysis according to GB?

2
  • What made you mark (1) with a question mark? Are you indicating that the sentence is questionable? (I don't see anything wrong with it.) Or are you indicating your own uncertainty? – snailplane Jul 11 '14 at 15:18
  • I'm not a native speaker, and I was not sure about the grammaticality, that's why I marked it this way. – Mateusz Grotek Jul 11 '14 at 17:18
2

The structure is derived from

[s
  [np
    [s
      [np Unspec np]
      [vp arrested [np Bill np] [advp so soon] vp]
    s]
   np]
  [vp was disappointing vp]
s]

The subject complement clause

  • [s [np Unspec np] [vp arrested [np Bill np] [advp so soon] vp] s]

is passivized, producing

  • [s [np Bill np] [vp was arrested so soon vp] s]

This is marked with a for-to infinitive complementizer required by the matrix predicate disappointing.

  • [s For [np Bill np] to [vp have been arrested so soon vp] s]

producing the infinitive complement clause subject of the psych predicate adjective (be) disappointing.
(The have comes from converting the past tense morpheme in was arrested into an infinitive).

The next step, which is not taken in the example, is to Extrapose the heavy subject, producing

  • It was disappointing for Bill to have been arrested so soon.

which is a much easier structure to parse, since it's completely right-branching.

This is just a sketch, of course. What counts as "the structure of" this sentence, in your case, is a matter to be negoiated with your teacher, or confessor, or whoever determines The Rules.

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  • Your answer is presupposing the existence of a finite VP constituent? How does your system motivate the existence of that constituent? – Tim Osborne Jul 11 '14 at 16:21
  • At one stage of the derivation, sure. See McCawley 1998 Ch. 3, on tests for constituency. For a more specific version, see the VP guide (which starts where the logic guide leaves off). – jlawler Jul 11 '14 at 16:38
  • I do not have access to McCawley at present. The VP guide you provide seems to jump to the conclusion that the subject is a dependent of S without justification (by way of Subject Formation). Constituency tests provide little evidence for the existence of a finite VP constituent. Would you like me to demonstrate this fact? – Tim Osborne Jul 11 '14 at 16:59
  • A VP is simply an S that has lost its subject. There are all kinds of ways that can happen, but the constituents are clearly S, NP, and VP. Unless you want to call "VP" V', which I don't, since it introduces unnecessary complexity. – jlawler Jul 11 '14 at 17:17
  • Whether you call it finite VP or V' is not important. Either way, I'm asking for emperical evidence motivating the presupposition that the binary S --> NP VP division exists. It is a basic question that most phrase structure grammars never attempt to answer. Constituency tests suggest that the division does not exist. – Tim Osborne Jul 11 '14 at 17:23

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