Stefan Müller » Publications » Complex Predicates

Complex Predicates

Author: Stefan Müller

Subject Areas: complex predicate, verbal complex, secondary predicate, resultative construction, particle verb

This article appeared 2006 in Brown, Keith (Ed) Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics – 2nd Edition, Elsevier: Oxford, pages 697–704.

This paper provides an overview of analyses of phenomena that are usually refered to under the name complex predicate.

Complex predicates usually are defined as predicates which are multi-headed; they are composed of more than one grammatical element (either morphemes or words), each of which contributes part of the information ordinarily associated with a head.

I discuss phenomena that were used to motivate complex predicate analyses. For instance in many languages certain predicates form a cluster, i.e. a topological unit. In free constituent order languages, the dependents of the predicates in the cluster sometimes can be permuted as if they were dependents of a single head. The matrix predicate sometimes determines the case of a dependend of an embedded predicate, for instance there are constructions in which the subject of the embedded predicate gets accusative as if it was an object of the higher predicate. Similarly, objects of the embedded predicate may be realized as the subject of the embedding predicate.

I sketch several analyses of these phenomena that were suggested in various frameworks. In GB-oriented work it is often assumed that some maximal projection is embedded, while other approaches assume that the lexical predicates form a complex and the this complex acts like a simplex head.

Draft of January 06, 2012: