Prof. Dr. Walt Detmar Meurers
Case Assignment in Partially Fronted Constituents


W. Detmar Meurers and Kordula De Kuthy


In: Christian Rohrer, Antje Roßdeutscher, and Hans Kamp (eds.): "Linguistic Form and its Computation". CSLI. 2001. pp. 29-63.


The topicalization of partial constituents has been widely discussed in the Germanic syntax literature since the phenomenon provides important empirical evidence for a number of theoretical issues. As these topics have also played a central role in the SFB 340, they constitute a natural focus for the project B8, whose task includes the integration and formalization of different proposals in the SFB in order to implement them as part of a phenomenon-oriented HPSG fragment for German.


One of the open issues concerning partial constituent topicalization arises from the occurrence of subjects in fronted non-finite constituents remarked by Haider (1990):


      (i) Ein Außenseiter gewonnen hat hier noch nie.
          An  outsider    won      has here still never
          An outsider has never won here yet.

The phenomenon is of particular theoretical interest since it involves apparently non-local case and subject-verb agreement relations, which runs counter to the restricted, local nature of these relations generally assumed in HPSG and other frameworks.


In this paper, we show that such extended grammatical relations only occur when they are when mediated by a lexical element, a raising predicate. This finding is supported by an empirical overview of raising constructions covering subject-to-subject raising, AcI constructions analyzed as subject-to-object raising, and stative and agentive passives analyzed either as subject-to-subject or as object-to-subject raising. We conclude that the apparently non-local case assignment and subject-verb agreement relations should be obtained as a result of the interaction of the ordinary local relations and the lexical properties of raising verbs. In the second part of the paper, we show how this observation can be captured in an HPSG analysis and discuss how this analysis can be formalized in terms of local constraints which readily lend themselves to an implementation as part of the HPSG fragment of German mentioned in the beginning.



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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    = {Meurers, Walt Detmar and De Kuthy, Kordula},
  title     = {Case Assignment in Partially Fronted Constituents},
  booktitle = {Linguistic Form and its Computation},
  editor    = {Christian Rohrer Antje Ro{\ss}deutscher and Hans Kamp},
  pages     = {29--63},
  publisher = {CSLI Publications},
  address   = {Stanford, CA},
  url       = {}
  year      = {2001}