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Predication Theory: A Case Study For Indexing Theory

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Cambridge Studies In Linguistics


Napoli's study takes a refreshing look at the notions of argument and predicate. Recent discussions of predication with Government and Binding theory stress the configurational properties of the phrases involved, and Napoli argues that this has led to proposals for more and more elaborate syntactic structures that still fail to give genuinely explanatory accounts. She presents a convincing case for the idea of predicate as a semantic primitive that cannot be defined simply by looking at the lexicon or simply at semantic structure, and offers a theory of predication where the key to the subject-predicate relationship is theta role assignment. Napoli then offers principles for the coindexing of a predicate with its subject role player. The coindexing principles use Chomsky's 1986 notion of barriers, but this study argues that binding is sensitive to thematic structure rather than to configurational notions such as Government and C-Command. Napoli's approach successfully handles the data traditionally considered in discussions of predication, as well as constructions that are not generally treated in the literature. Although exemplification is from English and Italian, the conclusions apply to all configurational languages.

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Cambridge University Press


Donna Jo Napoli


Chapter 1 has been made freely available courtesy of Cambridge University Press. This material has been published in Predication Theory: A Case Study For Indexing Theory, by Donna Jo Napoli. This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution or re-use. © Cambridge University Press 1989.

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