Paul M. Postal

Paul M. Postal is the author of many books, including On Raising and Edge-Based Clausal Syntax (both published by the MIT Press).

  • Classical NEG Raising

    Classical NEG Raising

    An Essay on the Syntax of Negation

    Chris Collins and Paul M. Postal

    An extended argument for a syntactic view of NEG raising with consequences for the syntax of negation and negative polarity items.

    In this book, Chris Collins and Paul Postal consider examples such the one below on the interpretation where Nancy thinks that this course is not interesting: Nancy doesn't think this course is interesting.

    They argue such examples instantiate a kind of syntactic raising that they term Classical NEG Raising. This involves the raising of a NEG (negation) from the embedded clause to the matrix clause. Collins and Postal develop three main arguments to support their claim. First, they show that Classical NEG Raising obeys island constraints. Second, they document that a syntactic raising analysis predicts both the grammaticality and particular properties of what they term Horn clauses (named for Laurence Horn, who discovered them). Finally, they argue that the properties of certain parenthetical structures strongly support the syntactic character of Classical NEG Raising.

    Collins and Postal also offer a detailed analysis of the main argument in the literature against a syntactic raising analysis (which they call the Composed Quantifier Argument). They show that the facts appealed to in this argument not only fail to conflict with their approach but actually support a syntactic view. In the course of their argument, Collins and Postal touch on a variety of related topics, including the syntax of negative polarity items, the status of sequential negation, and the scope of negative quantifiers.

    • Hardcover $19.75 £14.99
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  • Imposters

    Imposters

    A Study of Pronominal Agreement

    Chris Collins and Paul M. Postal

    A study of pronominal agreement with imposters, third person DPs (this reporter, yours truly, my lord, Madam) that denote the speaker or addressee.

    Normally, a speaker uses a first person singular pronoun (in English, I, me, mine, myself) to refer to himself or herself. To refer to a single addressee, a speaker uses second person pronouns (you, yours, yourself). But sometimes third person nonpronominal DPs are used to refer to the speaker—for example, this reporter, yours truly—or to the addressee—my lord, the baroness, Madam (Is Madam not feeling well?). Chris Collins and Paul Postal refer to these DPs as imposters because their third person exterior hides a first or second person core.

    In this book they study the interactions of imposters with a range of grammatical phenomena, including pronominal agreement, coordinate structures, Principle C phenomena, epithets, fake indexicals, and a property of pronominal agreement they call homogeneity.

    Collins and Postal conclude that traditional ideas about pronominal features (person, number, gender), which countenance only agreement with an antecedent or the relation of the pronoun to its referent, are much too simple. They sketch elements of a more sophisticated view and argue for its relevance and explanatory power in several data realms. The fundamental proposal of the book is that a pronoun agrees with what they call a source, where its antecedent constitutes only one type of source. They argue that the study of imposters (and closely related camouflage DPs) has far-reaching consequences that are inconsistent with many current theories of anaphora.

    • Hardcover $8.75 £6.99
  • Edge-Based Clausal Syntax

    Edge-Based Clausal Syntax

    A Study of (Mostly) English Object Structure

    Paul M. Postal

    An argument that there are three kinds of English grammatical objects, each with different syntactic properties.

    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.

    • Hardcover $74.00 £61.95
    • Paperback $19.75 £14.99
  • Parasitic Gaps

    Parasitic Gaps

    Peter W. Culicover and Paul M. Postal

    This book offers a comprehensive survey of research on parasitic gaps, an intriguing syntactic phenomenon.

    This book offers a comprehensive survey of research on parasitic gaps, an intriguing syntactic phenomenon. The first section of the book contains a history of work on the topic and three fundamental previously published papers. The remaining three sections present new perspectives on the theory of parasitic gaps based on data taken from diverse languages.

    Contributors Michael Calcagno, Peter W. Culicover, Elisabet Engdahl, Robert Hukari, Andreas Kathol, Christopher Kennedy, Katalin É. Kiss, Robert Levine, Alan Munn, Jamal Ouhalla, Paul M. Postal, Christine Tellier

    • Hardcover $13.75 £10.99
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  • Three Investigations of Extraction

    Three Investigations of Extraction

    Paul M. Postal

    In this technical monograph, Paul Postal deals with several issues that inexplicably have been treated only marginally in the development of current linguistic theorizing.

    In this technical monograph, Paul Postal deals with several issues that inexplicably have been treated only marginally in the development of current linguistic theorizing. He focuses on three problems in syntactic theory that are connected to "extraction"—the occurrence of an element in a distinguished position distinct from its unmarked locus in simple clauses. He examines a largely ignored body of systematic contrasts among known extraction types, the status of the Coordinate Structure Constraint, and the phenomenon of Right Node Raising.

    Current Studies in Linguistics 29

    • Hardcover $9.75 £6.95
  • On Raising

    On Raising

    One Rule of English Grammar and Its Theoretical Implications

    Paul M. Postal

    For some time it has been generally accepted by students of English grammar that a rule of Raising exists and that it functions to produce derived main clause subjects. Following Rosenbaum's work, it has also been widely accepted that this rule functions in a specified class of cases to derive main clause objects. However, in recent work, Chomsky has rejected the view that there is any Raising rule that produces derived main clause objects. According to his latest position, only the derived subject function of the rule is an actual feature of English grammar. On Raising is highly critical and is devoted chiefly to supporting the claim that English does contain a rule of Raising—a rule that has the function of taking the complement subject noun phrase in certain complement constructions and reassigning it as a constituent of the main clause. The author presents something on the order of two dozen arguments that Raising produces derived objects. In the course of this discussion, he also considers various other theoretical and descriptive consequences of, and questions raised by, the existence of Raising.

    • Hardcover
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