On Predication

Author: Stefan Müller

Keywords: Predication, Raising, Specificational Structure, Equational Structure, HPSG, German, Danish, English

This paper appeared in 2009 in Stefan Müller (Ed): Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar, University of Göttingen, Germany, Stanford: CSLI Publications, pages 213–233.

Long version of the paper

This paper discusses copula constructions in English, German, and Danish and argues that a uniform analysis of all copula constructions is inappropriate. I provide evidence from German that there should be a raising variant of the copula in addition to an identificational copula. A unary schema is provided that maps referential NPs that can be used as arguments onto predicational NPs. Data from Danish shows that predicational NPs can be subjects in specificational structures. An account for such specificational structures is provided and the different behaviour of predicational and specificational structures with regard to question tags is explained. A similar contrast can be found in German left dislocation structures, which follows from the assumptions made in this paper.

A modified treatment of complex predicate formation allows for a reduction of selectional features (that is abolishing of xcomp or vcomp) and for a uniform treatment of predicational phrases in copula constructions and resultative secondary predicates. This yields an account for constituent order variants that remained unexplained by earlier analyses.