Prof. Dr. Walt Detmar Meurers
Lexical Generalizations in the Syntax of German Non-Finite Constructions


W. Detmar Meurers


Ph.D. thesis. Seminar für Sprachwissenschaft, Universität Tübingen, 1999. Available as Volume 145 in Arbeitspapiere des Sonderforschungsbereichs 340.


In this thesis we investigate lexical generalizations in the syntax of German non-finite constructions under three perspectives: empirical, formal, and theoretical.


The leading idea of the first part is to provide an empirical overview which assumes something like a ``smallest common denominator'' of syntactic analyses of German non-finite constructions and recapitulates the observable properties along this basic skeleton. The empirical overview highlights the fact that the natural classes into which the observations fall are lexical classes and that attempts to base these distinctions on more abstract syntactic generalizations are generally empirically inadequate.


Having established the importance of lexical classifications, in the second part we investigate the status of the lexicon and lexical generalizations in the paradigm of Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG, Pollard and Sag 1987/1994). We show that the architecture provides implicational constraints to express generalizations over a class of word objects. A second kind of generalization relating different lexical classes is traditionally expressed by lexical rules. To lift lexical rules onto the same formally explicit and well-defined level as the general HPSG architecture, in the main chapters of part two we develop and formalize a specification language for lexical rules.


The third part builds on the empirical overview of the first and uses the formal mechanisms introduced in the second part to provide theoretical interpretations for central aspects of German non-finite constructions: the partial topicalization phenomenon and the challenge it poses to a theory of constituency, the status and word order phenomena in coherent constructions (Bech, 1955) which are irregular with respect to the properties expected of head-complement constructions, and the apparent violations of locality of case assignment and subject-verb agreement involving subjects as part of non-finite verbal projections.



Electronically available file formats:


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Bibtex entry:

  author =       {Meurers, Walt Detmar},
  title =        {Lexical Generalizations in the Syntax of German
  Non-Finite Constructions},
  school =       {Seminar f\"ur Sprachwissenschaft, Universit\"at T\"ubingen},
  address =      {T\"ubingen, Germany},
  year =         1999,
  note =         {published 2000 as Volume 145 in Arbeitspapiere des SFB 340, 
  ISSN 0947-6954/00},
  url =          {}