Edge-Based Clausal Syntax
In Edge-Based Clausal Syntax, Paul Postal rejects the notion that an English phrase of the form [V + DP] invariably involves a grammatical relation properly characterized as a direct object. He argues instead that at least three distinct relations occur in such a structure. The different syntactic properties of these three kinds of objects are shown by how they behave in passives, middles, -able forms, tough movement, wh-movement, Heavy NP Shift, Ride Node Raising, re-prefixation, and many other tests.
This proposal renders Postal’s position sharply different from that of Chomsky, who defined a direct object structurally as [NP, VP], and with the traditional linguistics text’s definition of the direct object as the DP sister of V. According to Postal’s framework, sentence structures are complex graph structures built on nodes (vertices) and edges (arcs). The node that heads a particular edge represents a constituent that bears the grammatical relation named by the edge label to its tail node. This approach allows two DPs that have very different grammatical properties to occupy what looks like identical structural positions. The contrasting behaviors of direct objects, which at first seem anomalous—even grammatically chaotic—emerge in Postal’s account as nonanomalous, as symptoms of hitherto ungrasped structural regularity.
About the Author
Paul M. Postal is the author of many books, including On Raising and Edge-Based Clausal Syntax (both published by the MIT Press).
—Judith Aissen, Department of Linguistics, University of California, Santa Cruz
Against the background of vagueness, appeals to authority and speculation posing as theorizing, Postal’s book stands out as a model of intellectual integrity. The book's combination of broad and deep scholarship, painstaking attention to the details of argumentation, and his penchant for exposing the weaknesses in standard treatments of grammatical phenomena sets a standard that one can only hope the rest of the field will rise to in responding to his work.”
—Robert Levine, Department of Linguistics, Ohio State University