Prof. Dr. Walt Detmar Meurers
German Partial-VP Fronting Revisited


W. Detmar Meurers


To appear in: Gert Webelhuth, Jean-Pierre Koenig, and Andreas Kathol (eds.): ``Lexical and Constructional Aspects of Linguistic Explanation''. CSLI. 1998.


On the basis of two recent proposals for PVP Topicalization, Hinrichs and Nakazawa (1994) and Nerbonne (1994), we identify two essential ingredients that are required to exclude the spurious structures licensed by the original Pollard (1996, orig. ms. 1990) proposal: obligatory instead of optional argument raising, and a method to exclude the relation which holds between the topicalized constituent and the verb of which it is a complement from this requirement. While both proposals successfully introduce a version of obligatory argument raising, the conclusions drawn in connection with the second issue are shown to be less convincing. In particular, we show that there is no need for a nonmonotonic device to relax specifications or ``hand-assembled'' constituents since it is sufficient to make LEX appropriate for synsem instead of for category in order to make argument raising non-obligatory for topicalized constituents.


We back up our claim that the identified ingredients are the essential ones by illustrating that it is sufficient to introduce them into the original theory of Pollard (1996) to eliminate the spurious ambiguities. Since this proposal makes use of traces, we thereby falsify Nerbonne's claim that traces are the source of the problem; both a traceless analysis and an analysis employing traces are equally possible.


Finally, in formalizing three different theories, we show that a flat structure without a verbal complex, a structure with a left-branching verbal complex, and a structure with a right-branching verbal complex are equally suitable for PVP topicalization. This shows that in an approach employing argument raising, the selectional properties encoded in the valence attributes and the constituent structure are related much more indirectly than traditionally assumed.



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Note: The electronic versions of the publications linked on this page are the last versions I had the copyright for. Where a publisher copyedited and/or typeset the papers, the electronic copies linked here are NOT identical to the officially published version, which should be used for any quotes, references to page numbers, etc.



Bibtex entry:

 author    = {Walt Detmar Meurers},
 title     = {German Partial-{VP} Fronting Revisited},
 booktitle = {Lexical and Constructional Aspects of Linguistic
 editor    = {Gert Webelhuth and Jean-Pierre Koenig and Andreas Kathol},
 publisher = {CSLI},
 address   = {Stanford},
 year      = {1998}