August 3, 2005

This paper shows that a VP in English is only a VP at the outset of a derivation, and that VP- preposing in English is in fact preposing of the internal arguments of the verb, followed by remnant movement of the original VP. Therefore, English looks much more like German (Muller (1998)), than it appears at first glance The evidence for the non-constituency of the verb and its original arguments in preposed position comes from its solution to what has been termed Pesetsky’s Paradox, in that an object of a preposed VP can bind into an adverbial at the end of a sentence. The paradox results from the incompatibility of the phenomenon with the conjunction of two assumptions: (i) binding requires c-command; (ii) only constituents move.. Assumption (i) requires the object to be higher than the adverbial, but the preposing of the verb and object to the exclusion of the adverbial would then require that a non-constituent (the verb and object) prepose. The paradoxical nature of the phenomenon rests on the two assumptions, and the paper presents additional evidence that binding requires c-command, showing the contrasts between topicalized VPs and topicalized PPs. The full set of binding phenomena can be accounted for with a ccommand requirement on binding, but cannot be accounted for with a rival account of command that makes reference to grammatical functions, known as o-command within HPSG (Pollard and Sag (1992, 1994) or ranking (Bresnan (2002)) or f-command (Dalrymple (1999)).
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