Syntactic Theory

Argument Realization Principle

The list-valued feature ARGUMEMT-STRUCTURE (ARG-ST) facilitates talking about all of the arguments of a verb (and other words) together, since it contains all syntactic arguments of a lexical head. This is helpful, for example, for talking about Binding Theory. Similarly, the VALENCE (VAL) feature contains information about the combinatoric potential of words and phrases. See also the chapter on Selection.

The ARG-ST values are related to the values of the valence features SPR and COMPS through the Argument Realization Principle, which can be formulated in any of the following ways:

  • A word's value for ARG-ST is the sum (i.e. the concatenation) of its SPR value (a subject or a determiner) and its COMPS value (the complements).

  • For words that require a specifier (a subject or a determiner): The first element of a word's ARG-ST list is realized as SPR, the rest is realized as COMPS.

Formally, the ARP is a constraint on the type word and may be formulated as follows:

The symbol is used to designate the sum operator. It is used to concatenate (or connect) lists. That means, in order to get the sum of two or more lists, the elements of each list are put into one list. For example, the sum of lists <A>, <B,C>, and <D,E,F> is the list <A,B,C,D,E,F>. Note that the order of the lists and of the elements on the lists does not change. We say ' is not commutative'. To illustrate this: <A> <B> = <A,B>, but not <B,A>. And <B> <A> = <B,A>, but not <A,B>. This is important especially for the ARG-ST list (see above) in which the ordering of its elements does matter.

Related Exercises: