Saturday, April 21, 2007

Post-nominal 'of'-phrases

A question for L1 English speakers: Do you agree with the judgments given below?

(113)*The imposition of the government of a fine
(114) The government's imposition of a fine

These are stolen from David Adger's 'Core Syntax', by the way. The generalization is that Agents cannot be realized as post-nominal 'of'-phrases, but for me, in my[1] brand of English, (113) is grammatically well-formed. It's just stylistically disgusting. Is this just me, or do other people get this too?

[1] evidently nonstandard


aislin stott said...

Oh, that's awful for me. I can't get it to mean the same thing as (114). What's interesting, though, is I think, is that "The imposition of a fine of the government" is better. (While still being awful.) Which is to say, I think part of the problem is that it's [The government's [imposition of a fine]] rather than [[The government's imposition] of a fine]. Yeah?

meagan louie said...

I think "The imposition of the fine of the government" is also better, although "The imposition of the fine by the government" is even better. Yeah, and I think you're bracket analysis represents what I'm thinking, that that "of the fine" represents the THEME, while "of the government" represents the AGENT, where THEMES are supposed to form a constituent with the verb before the AGENT merges in.
[vP The government[VPimposed [a fine]]].

Same thing with like how THEMES do noun incorporation, and AGENTS supposedly don't (But, I hear, they actually do in Turkish? Depends on definiteness though?)

I guess that's why I'm okay with (113) - I was always like "sure, if you say so" when people said things like "you can just tell intuitively that the object is closer to the verb than the subject" - in my mental grammar the verb and theme don't need to be so clearly linked.