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Re: THEORY: branchedness [was Re: Word order]

From:julien eychenne <eychenne.j@...>
Date:Thursday, August 8, 2002, 10:27
On Thu, 8 Aug 2002 01:33:18 +0100
Tim May <butsuri@...> wrote:

> The idea of the object being part of the verb > phrase is relatively new to me (I have very little formal training in > grammar).
Yes, but not all formal grammars treat it in that way. A lot of modern theories are predicate-based, and Subject and Object (if they exit) are often envisionned as cognitive means to raise arguments of the verb.
> How is this treated in VSO languages, where the verb and > object are seperated by the subject?
There is a joke often told about Generative Grammar : the Generative Grammar would certainly be totally different if Chomsky was not an English native speaker. Of course, lots of people contributed to this theory, but it's amazing to see how well it fits to English ;)
> Also, which is considered the > head of the sentence, the subject noun phrase or the main verb phrase? > Or is this language-dependent?
Actually, a phrase can't be a head ;). The head of a phrase is a terminal element (verb, noun...) and the phrase is a projection of the head. According to X-bar theory, the head of the sentence is often considered as Inflexion (I) which is Tense, Aspect and Mood. There is actually a more abstract layer beyond the "inflexion phrase", but this is really hard to understand, even when you know a little of formal grammars ;). This allow to explain sentences like "Which class did you choose?", where [which class] moves to the Specifier position of the Complementizer. Here the complementizer would be empty (barred O) and the specifier is mutatis mutandis the equivalent of a determinant for a noun (or a noun group). Who said that Generative Grammar was not hermetic ? Julien.