Prof. Dr. Walt Detmar Meurers
On Partial Constituent Fronting in German


Kordula De Kuthy and W. Detmar Meurers


In: Valia Kordoni (Ed.): Tübingen Studies in Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar. Arbeitspapiere des SFB 340, Nr. 132. Universität Tübingen. 52pp.


The topicalization of partial constituents in German has received much attention in the literature since the phenomenon is a serious challenge to the theory of constituency. In the HPSG paradigm, the attention has focussed on the topicalization of partial verb phrases. But G. Müller (1993, 1996) and others discussed that partial constituent fronting in German also occurs with nominal and adjectival phrases.


Investigating the nature of partial fronting phenomena in German, we start with a reevaluation of the empirical basis of the choice between the two analysis ideas proposed in the literature, remnant movement and reanalysis. More specifically, we show that the empirical arguments that are presented by G. Müller (1996) in favor of an extraction analysis are not convincing, and we provide empirical evidence supporting a reanalysis-like approach.


In a second step, we then compare three different kinds of partially occurring complements, verbal, adjectival, and nominal ones. We discuss the different behavior of coherently and incoherently selected verbal complements and show that adjectival complements behave parallel to the coherently selected verbal complements. Nominal complements, on the other hand, are shown not to be subject to the restrictions holding for the verbal or adjectival complements.


We capture the empirical insights in a reanalysis-like theory formalized in the HPSG paradigm. The account extends the empirical coverage of previous HPSG proposals in a way which accounts for the similarities and the differences between three different kinds of partial constituents. The similarities derive from a generalization of the argument-raising approach to partial VPs: a lexical principle which introduces argument raising as a general possibility for verbal heads. The differences result from the different requirements with respect to the lexicality (LEX) of the complements as specified in the lexical entries and a relation (raised) parameterizing the lexical principle. As additional support for the analysis, we show that the approach predicts the observable interaction between (partial) VP topicalization and partial NPs or APs.



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Bibtex entry:

author       = {Kordula {De Kuthy} and Walt Detmar Meurers},
title        = {On Partial Constituent Fronting in German},
booktitle    = {T\"ubingen Studies in Head-Driven 
                Phrase Structure Grammar},
pages        = {22--73},
editor       = {Valia Kordoni},
series       = {Arbeitsberichte des SFB 340},
number       = 132,
address      = {T\"ubingen},
publisher    = {Universit\"at T\"ubingen},
year         = 1999,
url          = {}