Pronominalization: A Standard Approach to Relativization
April 20, 2020
Pied-piping
April 20, 2020
Show all

Parsing Relatives to Identify the Function of Complementizers and Filler-gap Dependencies

In the following examples, the head-initialized antecedent (italicized) has a complementizer (bolded) that is the syntactic head of a full clause. The complementizer is also an object of the embedded clause (underlined):

  • “It’s really an important public health strategy that we have people thinking about.”
  • “Yes, and I think that it’s something that—I had to find a way to understand as an adult.”
  • He was suddenly worried that he’d allowed their silence to have made the situation worse than what he had calculated.
  • He steered clear of the danger that manifested itself as the individual’s wanting more credit than what he or she could afford to repay.

SUMMARY/OBSERVATIONS: The first two sentences each has an appositive object clause. However, there is a filler-gap dependency in all sentences.

[F]iller–gap dependency refers to a relationship between a filler, which is a wh- complementizer such as ‘what’ or ‘who’, and a gap, which is an empty syntactic position licensed by the filler.

Wilcox, Ethan, et al.1)Wilcox, Ethan, et al. “What Do RNN Language Models Learn about Filler-Gap Dependencies?: Semantic Scholar [PDF].” Undefined, 21 Aug. 2018, www.semanticscholar.org/paper/What-do-RNN-Language-Models-Learn-about-Filler-Gap-Wilcox-Levy/461297186f25a51d96b52b4f5f04b03e0bed476e. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

Notice that each of the WH- interrogatives (which are also called complementizers) introduces an embedded clause. The word fills a gap created by the verb, namely: “thinking about” what?; “find a way to understand what?; “afford to repay” what?; calculated what?

I love English

References   [ + ]

1. Wilcox, Ethan, et al. “What Do RNN Language Models Learn about Filler-Gap Dependencies?: Semantic Scholar [PDF].” Undefined, 21 Aug. 2018, www.semanticscholar.org/paper/What-do-RNN-Language-Models-Learn-about-Filler-Gap-Wilcox-Levy/461297186f25a51d96b52b4f5f04b03e0bed476e. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.
Garie McIntosh
Garie McIntosh
Garie McIntosh considers himself a story-telling communicator and a grammar enthusiast. His career focus is to write novels and educate others on the effective use of language in literary manuscripts. His objective through this focus is to make the elements and tools of his own success available as an educational component, or through an academic discipline, of his business, McIntoshLinguistics. Garie started out in administration in the fields of healthcare, project management and database development. Now as a storytelling-communicator, his goal and purpose are to write stories with strong, authentic characters that are defined by strong writing and themes and thereby reinforce the power of communication.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *