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Reviewed by:
  • Non-projecting words
  • Peter Svenonius
Non-projecting words. By Ida Toivonen. Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2003. Pp. 256. ISBN 1402015321. $74.95.

In this book, Toivonen has produced an exceptionally lucid document, one that I do not hesitate to recommend to students and colleagues alike; this is that rare volume that contributes to linguistic theory while being highly accessible. The book furthermore strikes an exemplary balance between description and analysis; it is rich in clearly organized and insightfully presented data, but does not shy away from precise formalization.

The book concerns itself primarily with the Swedish verb-particle construction, similar in many ways to the English verb-particle construction seen in such examples as Jan ate up the cookies. The chosen framework for the analysis is lexical functional grammar (LFG), but T is at pains throughout to express her generalizations in theory-neutral terms and the work is generally quite free of technical jargon. The book usefully presents an ample amount of data, drawing extensively on a collected corpus of written Swedish, and T does not hesitate to construct minimal pairs and other illustrative examples where they are relevant.

The Swedish verb-particle construction is reminiscent of the English one, with the important difference that if an object is present, it normally follows the particle. Thus, against the two options in English, given in 1, Swedish has only the one option, as indicated in 2 (19–21).

(1) a. Simon threw in the garbage.

    b. Simon threw the garbage in.

(2) a. Simon kastade in soporna.

      Simon threw in the.garbage

        'Simon threw in the garbage.'

b. *Simon kastade soporna in.

      Simon threw the.garbage in

Compare a construction in which a verb takes a direct object as well as a directional PP; in both languages, the object precedes the PP (barring the intonationally and informationally marked heavy-NP-shift phenomenon). Notice that Swedish distinguishes the particle in (as in 2) from the preposition i (as in 4).

(3) a. Simon threw the garbage in the trashcan.

    b. *Simon threw in the trashcan the garbage.

    c. *Simon threw in the garbage the trashcan.

(4) a. Simon kastade soporna i sopkorgen.

      Simon threw the.garbage in the.trashcan

        'Simon threw the garbage in the trashcan.'

    b. *Simon kastade i sopkorgen soporna.

      Simon threw in the.trashcan the.garbage

    c. *Simon kastade i soporna sopkorgen.

      Simon threw in the.garbage the.trashcan [End Page 666]

T's analysis of the verb-particle construction hinges on a central theoretical premise, namely that syntactic projection is a property of lexical items: lexical items can be lexically specified as nonprojecting, optionally projecting, or obligatorily projecting (1–10), in a way that has ramifications for the syntax. She takes note of similar proposals in previous work (e.g. Sag 1987, Baltin 1989) and identifies differences between them and her proposal.1

T proposes that a lexical item that obligatorily projects has a traditional triple-level structure when found in a larger syntactic configuration, with XP and projections, regardless of whether there are specifiers, complements, or modifiers, as schematized in 5a. A nonprojecting lexical item appears in syntactic configurations without this dominating structure, and as a result cannot have specifiers, complements, or phrasal modifiers; T represents nonprojecting items with a circumflex over the category symbol, as suggested in 5b.

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General principles of economy favor the structure in 5b over that in 5a, T suggests, so that if a lexical item optionally projects, it will project only if there are specifiers, complements, or phrasal modifiers, which by general principles of -theory require the higher projections (61–66). She assumes that adjuncts match their host phrase in bar-level (64), so that phrases may adjoin only at the XP level, and heads may adjoin only at the X0 level, but that counts as X0 for the purposes of adjunction.

T further proposes that language-specific phrase-structure rules may distinguish between projecting and nonprojecting categories. A Swedish-specific rule (84) allows the expansion of V0 as [V0 V0], subject to a condition (115) that denotes an end state or result. This gives rise to the characteristic order...


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