ARG-ST on phrases
Evidence from Polish
One of the major controversies in present-day HPSG is whether the information about a word's argument structure should also be available on this word's phrasal projections. Some works assume that ARG-ST is present on words only; this is the claim of, e.g., Pollard and Sag 1994, Miller and Sag 1997, Abeillé, Godard and Sag 1998, and Bouma, Malouf and Sag (to appear). The reason for this assumption is that it leads to more restrictive grammars: with this restriction, words cannot select their arguments on the basis of the argument structure of these arguments' heads (e.g., there seems to be no language in which a verb selects exactly VPs with an NP[dat] argument). On the other hand, various other works assume the presence of the complete information about a word's argument structure on this word's phrasal projections. This is the stance of, e.g., Grover 1995 (to formulate a fully nonconfigurational binding theory), Frank 1994 (to deal with verb second in German), Frank and Reyle 1995 (to account for the interactions between scope and word order in German), Calcagno and Pollard 1997 and Abeillé and Godard 2000 (to analyze French causatives), Baxter 1999 (in an account of purpose infinitives in English), and Meurers 1999 (to deal with case assignment in German verb clusters).
In this paper, I endeavor to make two kinds of linguistic contribution.
On the theory-internal side, I argue that the issue whether ARG-ST or any such attribute should be present at the level of possibly saturated phrases, in addition to its presence on words, is not an "all or nothing" issue. Although I show that there are some environments in Polish which do seem to require the presence of ARG-ST on phrases, I also link this presence to the common feature of such environments, namely, to their semantic vacuity (understood in the sense of Pollard and Yoo 1998). Although no formal proof can be given that this is the only possible analysis, I try to proceed carefully by examining a variety of possible alternatives and showing that all of them fail in one way or another.
Since semantically vacuous environments are extremely rare, the resulting grammar is not less restrictive than, say, a grammar which allows a verb to subcategorize for a lexical argument (and, hence, have access to this argument's ARG-ST), a possibility often taken advantage of in HPSG analyses of complex predicates in various languages.
On the empirical side, I look at two rarely considered and ill-understood constructions in Polish, namely, at "long raising" across a preposition, and at case agreement with predicative phrases. Neither of these constructions has been successfully analyzed so far. Although the analyses proposed in this paper may be perceived as less than satisfactory on the aesthetical side, they constitute the first formal and uniform account of these phenomena.