Situations and Syntactic Structures
Rethinking Auxiliaries and Order in English
A new theory of the syntax-semantics interface that relies on hierarchical orderings in language, with the English auxiliary system as its empirical ground.
Research in syntax has found that there is a hierarchical ordering of projections within the verb phrase across languages (although researchers differ with respect to how fine grained they assume the hierarchy to be). In Situations and Syntactic Structures, Gillian Ramchand explores the hierarchy of the verb phrase from a semantic perspective, attempting to derive it from semantically sorted zones in the compositional semantics. The empirical ground is the auxiliary ordering found in the grammar of English. The “situation” in the title refers to the semanticists' notion of eventuality that is the central element of the ontology of the formal semantics of verbal meaning. Ramchand discusses the semantic notion of situations in relation to the hierarchical ordering evidenced in syntactic structures and tries to bridge semantic and syntactic ontologies. She proposes and formalizes a new theory of semantic zones, and presents an explicitly semantic and morphological analysis of all the auxiliary constructions of English that derive their rigid order of composition without recourse to lexical item–specific ordering statements.
HardcoverOut of Print ISBN: 9780262037754 256 pp. | 6 in x 9 in
Paperback$35.00 S | £27.00 ISBN: 9780262535038 256 pp. | 6 in x 9 in
This is an important book, not just because of its meticulous and compelling analysis of one of the most classic problems in linguistics (the order and meaning of auxiliaries), but also because of the far-reaching implications of the proposals for how the semantics of human language is set up and how that relates to syntax and to the lexicon. The system Ramchand develops is so carefully worked out that its radical approach to semantic ontology comes to seem the only sensible option.
Professor of Linguistics, Queen Mary University of London