[b-greek] RE: word order and relative prominence in Greek

From: Moon-Ryul Jung (moon@saint.soongsil.ac.kr)
Date: Sat Feb 10 2001 - 20:00:06 EST

> Dear Gleen,
thanks for the clarification.

> Yes, VSO is an abbreviation for V,NP(S),NP(O). Yes, the position of adverbs
> would be explained by means of other constraints.

> The Generative tradition of linguistics views the NP(O) as a constituent
> within the VP, with the sentence composed of [NP(S),VP], and the VP composed
> of V,NP(O). So from that perspective, yes, SVO is really
> [NP(S),[V,NP(O)]], and VSO would be V,NP(S),NP(O). Incidentally, then, the
> real
> difficulty, not just for Greek but any VSO language in this tradition, is
> accounting for how the V can get separated from the NP(O).
> For example, the acceptability of "The skeptic
> dismantled quickly my argument" is questionable. The explanation, according
> to Government and Binding Theory, is that the Adverb, being a sentence-level
> (S) constituent, cannot separate the V and its NP(O) because it would then
> be dominated by the VP rather than by S.

According to this theory, S -> [Adv] NP [Adv] VP [Adv]
                          VP -> V NP.
Here [Adv] means that the occurrence of Adv is optional. I like it
better than the traditional school grammar in which VP -> [Adv] V [Adv].

This theory which considers Adv part of S rather than part of VP has
some problems.

(a) I think Adv can split V and NP(O) for example in the following

(1) Please explain to me the reason why you did so.
(2) Please explain quickly the reason why you did so.
(3) Please explain precisely the reason why you did so.

So, the theory cannot explain the above cases.

(b) "The skeptic quickly dismantled my argument"
   and "The skeptic dismantled my argument quickly"
  do not seem to mean the same thing as
  "Quickly, the skeptic dismantled my argument." In this case,
  I cannot tell the difference. But I remember there are cases
  where we can tell the difference. If this is true, there are
  adverbials that are part of VP and there are adverbials that
  are part of S.

(c) I am not a native speaker of English, but I suspect that they
    would parse as follows:

 (1) [The skeptic]np [ [quickly dismantled]vp [my argument]np ]vp
 (2) [The skeptic]np [ [ dismantled [my argument]np ]vp quickly ]vp
 (3) Please [ [explain [to me]adv ]vp [the reason why you did so]np ]vp

(3) can be explained if SVO is an abbreviation of NP(s), VP, NP(O). So
 considering Adv part of VP has merits, I think. What do you think?

I assumed here:

 VP -> VP [Adv][V NP]
 VP -> [Adv] V
 VP -> V NP

Moon-Ryul Jung
Sogang Univ, Seoul, Korea

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