Elements of clausal embedding
Patrick D. Elliott
January 2020

This thesis asks: what is the division of labour between the syntax and the semantics? The empirical focus is on the phenomenon of clausal embedding, whereby the grammar provides the resources to embed a clause within another clause, and the semantics provides the resources to represent an individual’s mental representations. The primary goal is to argue that *that*-clauses denote predicates of contentful entities – abstract objects, such as propositions, facts, and rumours. The major theoretical claim is that *that*-clauses function quite generally as modifiers in the compositional semantics, both when they compose with nominals and verbs. In order to cash this idea out, a strictly neo-Davidsonian approach to the syntax-semantics interface is outlined. In the syntax, arguments are severed from the verb; rather, they are incorporated as specifiers of functional heads. This is paralleled by a neo-Davidsonian semantics, where verbs denote predicates of eventualities, and thematic arguments are incorporated via metalanguage functions. Consequently all verbs, including attitude verbs, are argued to simply denote predicates of eventualities. Embedded clauses compose with attitude verbs as intersective modifiers – they specify the content of the verb’s eventuality argument. N.b. this is a corrected version of Elliott's (2017) UCL PhD dissertation.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/004991
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: University College London
keywords: embedding, attitudes, event semantics, neo-davidsonianism, events, content, argument structure, semantics, syntax
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