An Introduction to Syntactic Analysis and Theory by H. Koopman, D. Sportiche, E. Stabler

By H. Koopman, D. Sportiche, E. Stabler

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This takes us again to the distinction between modifiers and modifiees. In all theses cases, the rightmost element is the head, that is what is being modified, while the leftmost element modifies it and acts as a satellite of this head. 7 The categorial status of affixes We might ask if the Right Hand Head Rule is specific to compounds, or if it applies more generally, to all complex words. Suppose we have a complex (=non-root) word whose rightmost morpheme is a suffix. If the RHHR applied, this suffix should determine the properties of the derived word and in particular its category.

By the right-hand head rule, this head must be a suffix; it must be in the right-hand position. We will represent this silent verb head by e, where by convention, e denotes something that is phonetically empty,not pronounced. The alternatives are to say that father can be a verb, or both a verb and a noun simultaneously without any affixation: V N V father e Why say that there is a silent V in these cases, rather than these alternatives? First, it seems eminently reasonable to suppose there are silent morphemes in other cases as it allows us to simplify our picture of word structure in a number of respects.

Now if a test seems to apply equally well to continuous strings as to non continuous strings, it would not seem like a very promising test for constituency. If on the other hand such a test only applies to continuous strings, it would look like a good candidate for picking out those strings that form constituents. Substitution by a single (monomorphemic) word does seem to have this property: it always applies to continuous strings. Thus our interpretation of the substitution experiment seems a priori reasonable.

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