Abstract Syntax and Latin Complementation

By Robin T. Lakoff




This monograph covers the technicalities and rules of complementation and treats numerous topics in Latin syntax relating to the structure of complements. In an experimental, often highly original manner Dr. Lakoff tackles the two traditional problem areas of negation and the subjunctive. Her insights should provoke much new thinking among specialists in Latin and Indo-European historical syntax.

The author develops her work from the point of view of modern transformational theory. She examines Latin complement types and observes that for part of the grammar of Latin the syntactic rules for postulating deep structures are similar to those of English, i.e., that Latin and English do not differ greatly in their complement systems regardless of their superficial structural differences – a view expressly opposed to that of traditional philologists over the past two centuries. Covering a small part of Latin syntax in great detail, Dr. Lakoff garners clues as to the extent Latin and the Romance languages and how the disparity arose.

In a chapter dealing with a number of phenomena involving negation, the author finds that, with few expectations, negatives behave similarly in Latin and in English. She discusses the manner in which negation is introduced into the deep structure in all languages and the way in which negation is introduced into the deep structure in all languages and the way in which single negatives in Spanish, concluding that there is no deep-structure difference between the type of negation in either language.

From discussing the role of so-called “independent” subjunctives (purpose clauses, imperatives, wishes) in grammar, Dr. Lakoff reverses the historical view that accords these constructions a basic position by pointing out that the subjunctives are actually secondarily derived from subordinate sentences by the deletion of abstract predicates. Her specification of the properties of abstract predicates is a significant contribution to syntactic theory. In further departure from linguistic history, Dr. Lakoff explains that independent and dependent subjunctives and infinitives – that is, all moods save the indicative – are derived and that the indicative alone occurs in independent sentences in deep structure. She concludes her study with a discussion of syntactic change in governed rules and describes the relationship of borrowing (in this case from the Greek) to syntactic change, suggesting that the transformational component of a language may change in much less time than was previously thought.

Abstract Syntax and Latin Complementation does not presuppose a knowledge of either Latin or transformational grammar, but the author does list references that will allow the reader to move freely through linguistic abstractions.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262120272 240 pp. |