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Chapter 15 - VO-/OV-Base Ordering

from Part III - Syntax

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 March 2020

Michael T. Putnam
Pennsylvania State University
B. Richard Page
Pennsylvania State University
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In North-Germanic languages and English, VPs are head-initial. In continental West-Germanic languages, VPs are head-final. This chapter surveys major syntactic contrasts that directly correlate with this structural difference. Head-initial phrases are structurally more tightly constrained than head-final phrases. Since clauses typically contain VPs, constraints on VPs are reflected in the clause structure. Syntactic differences triggered by head-positioning show in contrasts such as the following. Head-initial VPs are strictly ordered, that is, the relative order of arguments does not change; adjuncts do not intervene between the head and the arguments; the relative order of auxiliaries is invariable. In addition to the VP-internal contrasts, there are VP-external ones, too. Adjuncts preceding head-initial phrases are head-adjacent, hence adjuncts preceding head-initial VPs are minimized. Finally, head-initial VPs with a preverbal subject entail clause structures with an obligatory subject position. All these restrictions are absent when the VP is head-final.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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