Stefan Müller » Publications » Persian Complex Predicates

Persian Complex Predicates and the Limits of Inheritance-Based Analyses

Author: Stefan Müller

Subject Areas: Persian, German, Complex Predicates, Construction Grammar, HPSG, Inheritance, Default Unification

2010 in the Journal of Linguistics 46(3), pages 601–655.

Persian complex predicates pose an interesting challenge for theoretical linguistics since they have both word-like and phrase-like properties. For example, they can feed derivational processes, but they are also separable by the future auxiliary or the negation prefix.

Various proposals have been made in the literature to capture the nature of Persian complex predicates, among them analyses that treat them as purely phrasal or purely lexical combinations. Mixed analyses that analyze them as words by default and as phrases in the non-default case have also been suggested.

In this paper, I show that theories that exclusively rely on the classification of patterns in inheritance hierarchies cannot account for the facts in an insightful way unless they are augmented by transformations or some similar device. I then show that a lexical account together with appropriate Immediate Dominance (ID) schemata and an argument composition analysis of the future auxiliary has none of the shortcomings that classification-based analyses have and that it can account for both the phrasal and the word-like properties of Persian complex predicates.

The analysis is part of a computer-processable fragment of Persian.