An implicational universal in complementation: Theoretical insights and empirical progress
Susi Wurmbrand, Magdalena Lohninger
May 2020

Building on observations in Givón 1980, complement clauses combining with different types of verbs show varying degrees of independence, transparency, integration, and complexity, following an implicational complementation hierarchy (ICH). In this paper, we provide several ICH Signature effects that i) motivate a widely observed (possibly universal) three-way split of complements; ii) demonstrate that the basic grouping of complements is determined semantically (not by morphosyntactic coding); iii) confirm that there is an implicational ordering of complement types; and iv) indicate that morphosyntactic properties (such as finiteness) operate along the ICH. We propose that the composition and ordering of the scale is not accidental but reflects different conceptual primitives, following Ramchand and Svenonius (2014), which define clausal domains. The implicational nature of the ICH is derived by the containment relations of clausal domains: the clausal domain needed (to allow proper matching between the matrix verb and complement) in the most dependent type of complement is contained in the domains needed in the less dependent type of complement, which in turn are contained in the domains needed in the most independent type of complement. We further suggest that complementation follows a synthesis model, where complements are not syntactically selected (e.g., there is no category or size selection), but freely built in different forms, with the only restriction that the resulting structures need to match with the semantic requirements of the matrix verbs. This view allows flexibility (such as meaning shifts of matrix verbs) and optionality in complementation, exactly as needed to handle the variation found within and across languages.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/004550
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: In: Hartmann, Jutta M. & Angelika Wöllstein (eds.) Propositionale Argumente im Sprachvergleich: Theorie und Empirie. /Propositional Arguments in Cross-Linguistic Research: Theoretical and Empirical Issues. [Studien zur Deutschen Sprache] Gunter Narr Verlag, Tübingen.
keywords: complementation, selection, implicational universals, semantic types of complements, finiteness, infinitives, clausal domains, cartography, restructuring, clausal integration, syntax, typology
previous versions: v1 [April 2019]
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