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Since movement-analyses of scrambling lead
into dead ends, the next obvious place to look for a solution is the lexicon or,
more specifically, argument structure (A-structure). In the discussion of
example (14) under 4.1 I already mentioned the suspicion that overt markings,
i.e. case morphology for German, have something to do with scrambling
Neeleman (1994) proposes that scrambling
structures are identifiable as directly projected q-grids.
Similar to Grimshaw (1990), he suggests that, first of all, q-grids
follow a thematic hierarchy (Jackendoff 1972), and that secondly, overt case
allows to unequivocally link an argument to its underlying position in the q-grid,
even though "little is known about the linking rules [of case and q-roles]"
(Neeleman: 420). A verb like zeigen ('show')
would thus predictably have the following A-structure:
AGENT > EXPERIENCER > THEME
Dative linking is encoded in the lexicon,
whereas nominative and accusative are structural cases, such that nominative is
assigned to the most prominent argument and accusative to the lowest one. While
this is certainly true for the majority of German verbs, this formulation is too
strong. The data in (22) show a verb that in a specific idiomatic environment
projects the EXPERIENCER in front of the AGENT and strongly resists any
reordering within its domain. Whereas the reordering resistance may be subject
to independent conditions (e.g. specificity), it seems likely that the
A-structure encoded in the lexicon reflects an argument ordering which violates
the thematic hierarchy. Haider (1993) furthermore points out that there seems to
be whole class of verbs with deviating default order, as exemplified by aussetzen
wenn man die Kinder
oneNOM the childrenACC
the dangerDAT exposes
?wenn man der Gefahr die Kinder aussetzt.
(examples taken from Haider 1993: 197)
While the thematic hierarchy remains intact
here, accusative is linked to the EXPERIENCER, whereas the THEME is marked
dative. Linking of case to thematic roles does thus not provide a possible
solution without further assumptions.
Haider (1993) elaborates on a proposal by
Bierwisch (1988) and argues that case is linked directly to an underlying
argument structure, such that a verb like geben,
'give', would have a lexicon entry containing information similar to the
[x CAUSE [y HAVE z]]
[+Dat] d, f1
are mapped into the hierarchical syntactic structure by l-conversion,
i.e. the leftmost operator will yield the most embedded argument.
Associated with the l-operators
is the syntactic form, which includes the q-grid
(not further specified by Haider) and case information: [+Dat], as morphological
case, is immediately expressable, whereas f1 and f2 represent
structural cases. F1 is
marked d, for „designated“, and
will thus receive nominative case, whereas f2 will by default be
marked accusative (cp. Haider 1993: 110 ff., Frey 1994: 38ff.).
A verb like aussetzen may thus have
the following A-structure representation:
lx [x CAUSE [y BE-SUBJECT-TO z]]
Since case is thus specified in the lexicon,
Haider assumes that arguments are in principle not tied to specific positions
within the VP, hence the 'open' VP structure shown in (6). All arguments are
adjoined to VP at the same level and licensed through government by the verb
(government defined as m-command: the verb thus governs everything dominated and
adjoined to VP). Since arguments are structurally almost indistinguishable,
positional information in the form of c-command relationships between arguments
is only used for identification if case does not provide enough information.
If the syntactic form allows unequivocal
identification of overt DPs with underlying argument positions in the semantic
form (as is the case for 25 and 26), scrambling should thus in principle be
well-formed. As Neeleman (1994) points out, this predicts that A-structures
without sufficient distinctions in the syntactic form make scrambling at least
very unlikely, which is born out by the facts . (27) shows a possible
A-structure for lehren ('teach'):
[x CAUSE [y KNOW z]]
Since neither f2 nor f3
are marked for inherent case, they will both surface with accusative case. The
syntactic form does not allow to draw correct inferences about the semantic
form, unless via overt argument position. (28b) will thus yield a garden path
effect, yielding the (strange) interpretation in (28c).
..., daß der Lehrer
den Schüler die Sprache
teacherNOM the studentACC
the languageACC teaches.
?..., daß der Lehrer die Sprache den Schüler lehrt.
that the teacher teaches the student to the language.
(cp. Neeleman 1994: 421)
The garden path effect in (28) is relatively
easy to overcome, which makes one hesitate to mark (28b) as ungrammatical. But
notice that (28) allows straightforward disambiguation through world knowledge,
a strategy not available in (29):
..., daß ich einen Schund einen Verbrecher heisse.
..., daß ich einen Verbrecher einen Schund heisse.
...that I call a punk a criminal.
...that I call a criminal a punk.
It is very hard to get scrambling
interpretations for either (29a) or (29b), i.e. (29a) will be interpreted as
(29c) and (29b) as (29d).
The situation is further complicated by
homophones in the German case system. There is, for example, no overt
distinction between nominative and accusative for feminine nouns, such that the
garden path interpretation for both (30a) and (30b) would be (30c) and (30d)
..., daß die Verkäuferin
die Kundin angelächelt
saleswomanACC/NOM the customerACC/NOM smiled-at
..., daß die Kundin die Verkäuferin angelächelt hat.
that the saleswoman smiled at the customer.
that the customer smiled at the saleswoman.
Here, it should be pointed out that the
assumption of A-structures as presented by Haider (1993) does not in itself
provide a mechanism for predicting the well-formedness or acceptability of
scrambling structures. As I see it, VP-internal scrambling is always possible as
far as licensing is concerned. However, a complex set of output conditions
determines inhowfar a given structure is acceptable.
To pick up a point raised under 3 now: since
scrambling is largely dependent on possibly idiosyncratic encodings in the
lexicon and a number of additional more or less weak output conditions,
variability in native speaker judgments is to be expected.
© Philipp Strazny 1997
 Nothing rests on the question whether Montague grammar/l-calculus is an appropriate format to capture natural language grammer. Here, it is a convenient notation to capture the notion that argument ordering is not necessarily a function of (propositional) logical form. l-conversion, as used here, simply provides a presyntactic mechanism assuring a specific predicate's default argument order.
 This mechanism of mapping an argument list into syntax is in essence similar to the one proposed by Grimshaw (1990), cp. also Li (1990).
 cp. Neeleman's (1994) treatment of case
 One such condition would be the well-known 'definiteness effect': German strongly prefers definite objects to appear before an indefinite object. This is possibly linked with a 'specificity effect': similar to Turkish (Enç 1991), German seems to have a strong adjacency requirement for unspecific objects and the verb.