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  Subject:   "The Syntax of Matrix and Subordinate Clauses", Jane Grimshaw

  Sponsor:   Department of Linguistics

  Speaker:   Jane Grimshaw

  Date:   Friday, November 3, 2000

  Time:   3:30pm -

  Location:   Margaret Jacks Hall (Building 460), room 126 [look for it in a campus map][new]

  Sponsor URL:   http://www-linguistics.stanford.edu/colloq/

The Syntax of Matrix and Subordinate Clauses 
Jane Grimshaw 
Rutgers University and Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences 


Why is the syntax of matrix and subordinate clauses different? The view I 
will present is that while the constraints which interact to determine the
grammatical structure of optimal clauses are the same for both types of 
clause, the constraints are relativized to the matrix and subordinate domains.
(This contrasts sharply with for example, Emonds' 1975 conclusion A 
Transformational Approach to English Syntax that matrix clauses are not 
subject to the same types of transformations as subordinate clauses.) The 
ranking of the constraints relativized in this way is the source of the 
selection of matrix and subordinate optima, and results in limited variation 
between the two.. 

The constraints (most important among them HeadLeft, ObligatoryHead, 
ObligatorySpecifier), have a general form, a form which assesses matrix 
projections and a form which assesses subordinate projections. 
(Cf "positional markedness" proposals in the phonological literature.) 
These lie at the heart of the system which determines the syntax of matrix 
and subordinate clauses, and allow us to derive their principle 
characteristics: presence or absence of a complementizer, presence or
absence of inversion, and admissibility of adjunction. The fundamental 
commitment of the theory is to the view that complexity in observed 
grammatical behavior must result from the interaction of simple, general 
constraints. The interaction explains variation in clause types, within and 
between languages, without positing complex stipulative constraints such as 
the "Projection Principle" (Rizzi and Roberts 1989, McCloskey 1992) or 
"Pure Extended Projection" Grimshaw 1997).

Complements to "bridge verbs" show mixed properties: I will argue that their 
syntax can be explained if they are subject to both the matrix-domain 
constraints and the subordinate-domain constraints. The syntax of such 
complements shows some, but not (necessarily) all, of the characteristics of 
matrix clauses. English dialectal variation wrt inversion in interrogative 
complements (McCloskey 1992) follows under this proposal from an alternative 
ranking of two of the constraints.

In sum, the syntax of matrix, subordinate and root clauses is systematically 
related, and the system is due to the interaction of general constraints on 
the shape of projections.

 Event history: Submitted by bzack on 27-Oct-2000;


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