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Constructing the Interface of Syntax and Semantics in Current English: Principles and Generalizations to Explain the System of English Predicate Complementation

Juhani Rudanko

The project develops explanatory principles and generalizations for the understanding of the system of English predicate complementation. The focus is on the core area of non-finite complements in present-day English. Both to infinitive and -ing complements are examined, including non-prepositional and prepositional -ing clauses, in order to determine their nature and position in the system. The point of departure is the identification of the constructions on a syntactic basis, using both a head-based and a pattern-based mode of investigation. Once the constructions have been identified, their semantic properties are examined, and generalizations are formulated to explain the interface of syntax and semantics in the system of English predicate complementation. The analytic assumptions made include the postulation of understood subjects for non-finite complement clauses, and taking work from general linguistics into account, an important theoretical distinction is made between control and NP Movement structures. Principles are also provided to explain patterns of competition among different types of complement.

The project enhances our understanding of a central area of the system of the grammar of contemporary English. While the project has a synchronic focus on present-day English, it also points to the role of grammatical change in recent English.

Publications

Listed below are some publications that have originated from this project so far:

2010 "Change and Variation in Complement Selection: a Case Study from Recent English, with Evidence from Large Corpora". In Stefanie Wulff, Stefan Th. Gries, and Mark Davies, eds., Corpus-Linguistic Applications: Current Studies, New Directions. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, pp. 47-66.

2006 “The ‘in -ing’ Construction in British English, 1800-2000,” in M. Kytö et al. eds., Nineteenth-Century English: Stability and Change, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 228-241, 12 pp.

2004 “From -ing Complements of Transitive Verbs in the Last Two Centuries, in Gunnar Bergh, Jennifer Herriman and Mats Moberg, eds., An International Master of Syntax and Semantics. Papers Presented to Aimo Seppänen on the Occasion of his 75th Birthday. Gothenburg Studies in English 88. Gothenburg (Goteborg) University, pp. 189-198, 9 pp.

2003 “Comparing Alternate Complements of Object Control Verbs: Evidence from the Bank of English Corpus,” in Pepi Leistyna and Charles F. Meyer, eds., Corpus Analysis: Language Structure and Language Use. Amsterdam: Rodopi, pp. 273-283, 11 pp.

Complements and  Constructions

2002 Complements and Constructions: Corpus-Based Studies on Sentential Complements in English in Recent Centuries. Lanham, New York, Oxford: University Press of America. Library of Congress Call Number PE 1319.R845.2002. 425—dc21 20020244720 CIP. English Language—Complement. ISBN 0-7618-2274-7. v + 130 pp.

Published assessments of this book:

  • 2004 Patrick Duffley, Word, volume 55, number 3, pp. 415-417

Diachronic Studies of  English Complementation Patterns

1999 Diachronic Studies of English Complementation Patterns: Eighteenth Century Evidence in Tracing the Development of Verbs and Adjectives Selecting Prepositions and Complement Clauses. Lanham, New York, Oxford: University Press of America. Library of Congress Call Number PE 1319.T85 1999 425’.09033—de21 99—26022 CIP. 1. English language—18th Century—Complement. 2. English language—Grammar, Historical. ISBN 0-7618-1407-8. v + 143 pp.

Published assessments of this book:

  • 2002 Carl Mills, Language, BN, volume 78, number 1, March 2002, p. 198 f.
  • 2001 Ewald Standop, Anglia, volume 119, number 4, pp. 647-649
  • 1999 Reference and Research Book News, volume 14, Number 4, November 1999, p. 175.


1998 “To Infinitive and To -ing Complements: a Look at Some Matrix Verbs in Late Modern English and Later,” English Studies 79, 336-348, 13 pp.

1998 “Infinitival Subject Control and Corpus Evidence,” in LACUS Forum XXIV, edited by Sheila Embleton, Toby Griffen, Series Editor. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: The Linguistic Association of Canada and the United States (LACUS), pp. 111-124, 14 pp.

1997 “On the Semantics of Object Complement Control in English,” in The Twenty-Third LACUS Forum 1996, edited by Alan K. Melby, Toby Griffen, Series Editor. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: The Linguistic Association of Canada and the United States (LACUS), pp. 259-265, 7 pp.

Prepositions and Complement  Clauses

1996 Prepositions and Complement Clauses: a Syntactic and Semantic Study of Verbs Governing Prepositions and Complement Clauses in Present-Day English, SUNY Series in Linguistics, Mark Aronoff, editor, Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, Library of Congress Call Number PE1335.R83 1996. 1. English language—Prepositions. 2. English language—Complement. 3. English language—Semantics. 4. English language—Clauses. 5. English language—Syntax. 6. English language—Verb. ISBN 0-7914-2873-7, viii + 211 pp.

Published assessments of this book:

  • 1999 by Lilo Moessner, in Anglia, Band 117, Heft 2, pp. 261-263.
  • 1998 by Martina Häcker in Language, volume 74, September 1998, p. 685.
  • 1998 by Dorothee Hohl in Arbeiten aus Anglistik und Amerikanistik, Band 23, Heft 2, pp. 287-291.
  • 1997 by S. Novak in Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts (LLBA), February 1997, p. 116 f.
  • 1997 Reference and Research Book News, Volume 12, Number 1, February 1997, p. 78.
  • 1997 by Pia Norell in Studia Neophilologica, volume 69, pp. 119-121.
  • 1997 by Edgar C. Polomé in The Journal of Indo-European Studies 25, nos. 1 & 2, Spring/Summer 1997, p. 277 f.
  • 1997 English Today, volume 13, no. 1, p. 56.
  • 1997 by Christian Mair in English Language and Linguistics, Volume 1, Part 2, pp. 355-358.

Complementation and Case  Grammar

1989 Complementation and Case Grammar: a Syntactic and Semantic Study of Selected Patterns of Complementation in Present-Day English, SUNY Series in Linguistics, Mark Aronoff, editor, Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, Library of Congress Call Number PE1319.R84 1989. 1. English language—Complement. 2. English language—Case. 3. English language—Syntax. 4. English language—Semantics. ISBN 0-88706-931-2, x + 173 pp.

Published assessments of this book:

  • 1992 The Year’s Work in English Studies, volume 70, p. 111.
  • 1990 by Bernd Kortman in Language, volume 67, p. 193.
  • 1990 by Anita Mittwoch in Journal of Linguistics 26, p. 565 f.

Book reviews

2009 Review of Thomas Egan (2008) Non-Finite Complementation: a Usage-Based Study of Infinitive and -Ing Clauses in English (Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, pp. xi + 432). English Language and Linguistics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), Volume 13, issue 1, March 2009, pp. 137-141.

Conference papers

Listed below are some conference presentations that have originated from this project so far:

2007 “Exploring Variation in Sentential Complements of an Innovative Matrix Predicate,” Studies in the History of the English Language SHEL5, Athens 2007, University of Georgia, October 4 to October 6, 2007. Organized by Bill Kretzschmar, University of Georgia. The paper was presented on Saturday, October 6, 2007.

2007 “On a Class of Resultatives in English,” Summer School and Conference on the Method of Lexical Exceptions, University of St Andrews, Scotland, 2-8 September 2007.

2004 “On Some to Infinitive and -ing Complements in British and American English,” International Symposium on Grammatical Differences between British and American English, June 2 to 4, 2004, at the University of Paderborn. The paper, presented on June 3, 2004, was an invited paper.

2003 “More on Horror Aequi: Evidence from Large Corpora” (a poster), Corpus Linguistics 2003 Conference, Lancaster University, March 28-31, 2003.

2002 “Construction Grammar and Linguistic Productivity: a Case Study Based on Corpus Evidence,” The Fourth North American Symposium of the American Association for Applied Corpus Linguistics, Corpus Linguistics and Language Teaching, Hosted by the Indiana Center for Intercultural Communication, Indiana University Purdue University, Indiana, November 1 to 3, 2002. The paper was presented on November 2, 2002.

2001 “Verbs of Consent and their Complements over Three Centuries,” The 30th Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Association of the Southwest, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, September 28-30, 2001. The paper was presented on September 29, 2001.

2001 “From -ing in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries,” Late Modern English Conference, organized by the English Department of the University of Edinburgh, The Crowne Plaza Hotel, Edinburgh, Scotland, August 29 to September 1, 2001. The paper was presented on August 29, 2001.

2001 “Prepositional Complements of Verbs of Working” (a poster), The 7th International Cognitive Linguistics Conference, International Cognitive Linguistics Association, University of California, Santa Barbara, July 22-27, 2001.

2001 “Into –ing as a Construction in English,” First International Conference on Construction Grammar (ICCG 2001), University of California, Berkeley, April 6-8, 2001. The paper was presented on April 7, 2001.

2001 “Comparing Alternate Complements of Object Control Verbs: Evidence from the BNC,” The Third North American Symposium on Corpus Linguistics and Language Teaching, Hosted by the University of Massachusetts, Boston, The Boston Park Plaza Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts, March 23 – March 25, 2001. The paper was presented on March 24, 2001.

2000 “Complements of Verbs of Avoiding over Three Centuries: A Study in the Use of Electronic Corpora, The Forty-Second Annual Convention of the Midwest Modern Language Association, Forum: Computer Corpora and Study of English, Hyatt Regency Crown Center, Kansas City, Missouri, November 2-4, 2000. The paper was presented on November 3, 2000.

2000 “A Class of Phonologically Null Objects in Finnish and in English,” Second International Conference in Contrastive Semantics and Pragmatics SIC-CSP 2000, Newnham College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England, September 11-14, 2000. The paper was presented on September 13, 2000.

2000 “Complements of Fail over Three Centuries,” Twenty-Seventh LACUS Forum, Linguistic Association of Canada and the United States, Rice University, Houston, Texas, July 25-29, 2000. The paper was presented on July 27, 2000.

1999 Rudanko, Juhani, “Two Types of TO Complements of Transitive Verbs,” Languaging 99, a Conference across Linguistics, Literature, and Writing, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, March 4-6, 1999. The paper was presented on March 4, 1999.

1998 Rudanko, Juhani, “Two Types of To Complements of Nouns,” The 27th Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Association of the Southwest LASSO XXVII, Meeting Jointly with the Western Conference on Linguistics (WECOL) 10, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, October 9-11, 1998. The paper was presented on October 10.

1998 Rudanko, Juhani, “The Semantics of Object Complement Control from a Diachronic Perspective,” The Tenth International Conference on English Historical Linguistics, University of Manchester, England, August 21 to August 26, 1998. Chair of Organizing Committee: David Denison. The paper was presented on August 22.

1998 Rudanko, Juhani, “Two Types of To Complements of Adjectives,” The Twenty-Fifth Linguistic Association of Canada and the United States Forum (LACUS, Chair: Sidney Lamb), Claremont Graduate College, Claremont, California, USA, July 28 to August 1, 1998. Chair of Conference Committee: Ruth Brend. The paper was the first in the session chaired by Victor Yngve on August 1.

 
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