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Research Seminar : "On Some Syntactico-Pragmatic Properties of Postnominal Prepositional Phrases"
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Topic:  Research Seminar : "On Some Syntactico-Pragmatic Properties of Postnominal Prepositional Phrases"
posted itemPosted - 20/06/2007 :  10:21:09
City University of Hong Kong Dep

Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics
Research Seminar

On Some Syntactico-Pragmatic Properties of Postnominal Prepositional Phrases

Presented by

Professor Susumu Kuno

Professor Emeritus of Linguistics, Harvard University

Date: 4 September 2008, Thursday
Time: 4:30pm - 6:00pm
G7619 (Lift 3, 7/F, Green Zone),Academic Building,CityU


With the introduction of X-bar Theory by Jackendoff (1977), about a dozen claims appeared that were based on the argument/adjunct distinction. Among the best known of them are the following: Claim 1: Argument PPs are always closer to their head noun than adjunct PPs (Radford, Jackendoff) – the student of physics with long hair / *the student with long hair of physics Claim 2: Adjunct PPs can be stacked, but argument PPs cannot be (Radford, Carnie) - the student with long hair in the corner / *the student of physics of chemistry Claim 3: One-substitution cannot be applied to the N preceding the post-nominal argument PP of the form of [of NP] (Jackendoff, Radford, Hornstein and Lightfoot, Carnie, Panagiotidis) – the student with long hair and the one with short hair / *the student of physics and the one of chemistry   I will show that there are serious problems with the above and other similar claims, and propose instead syntactico-semantic constraints that account for the acceptabillity/unacceptability judgments of sentences that formed the basis for these claims. The fact that these claims do not hold does not mean that there are no syntactic patterns involving postnominal PPs that are sensitive to the argument/adjunct distinction. I will examine Binding Principle B as it applies to the object NP of postnominal arugment/adjunct PPs, and show that the argument/adjunct distinction is absolutely necessary. Based on this observation, I will propose a major revision of Principle B.


Susumu Kuno (久野 暲) is Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at Harvard University, where he received his Ph.D. degree in 1964 and spent his entire career. He received his A.B. and A.M. from Tokyo University under the guidance of Shirō Hattori (服部四郎). Kuno is known for his discourse-functionalist approach to syntax known as functional sentence perspective and for his analysis of the syntax of Japanese verbs and particularly the semantic and grammatical characteristics of stativity and the semantic correlates of case marking and constraints on scrambling. His major publications include The Structure of the Japanese Language (MIT Press, 1973); Functional Syntax: Anaphora, Discourse, and Empathy (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1987); Grammar and Discourse Principles (co-authored with Ken-Ichi Takami, University of Chicago Press, 1993); and Functional Constraints in Grammar (co-authored with Ken-Ichi Takami, John Benjamins, 2004).

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