Skeptical Linguistic Essays

By Paul M. Postal | Go to book overview

3
A New Raising Mystery

1. Background
Some quarter of a century ago a debate took place about the proper analyses to be assigned to various English clauses with non finite complements, including those like (1):
1.
a. The doctor considered the condition to be untreatable.
b. Most observers perceived them to be nervous.
c. Isabelle proved Jerome to have vampirelike properties.
d. Lydia wants Ken to succeed.
e. The general wishes you to stand at attention.

At issue inter alia was the superficial clausal status of the highlighted DPs, hereafter the pivot DPs. Principal works involved include Bach (1977), Bresnan (1976), Chomsky (1973, 1981), Lightfoot (1976), and Postal (1974, 1977). Under the view defended in Postal (1974, 1977) and a bit in Postal and Pullum (1988), the pivot DPs were in one aspect of the structure of such sentences subjects of the complement clauses but in another aspect of that structure objects of the main clause. Under the view advocated in Chomsky (1973), the pivot DPs were exclusively subjects of the complement in every relevant structural aspect. Other positions are logically possible; for example, Pollard and Sag (1994: chapter 3) claim that the pivot DPs in (1) are exclusively main clause objects.

It is unclear where these matters stand today. With the passage of time, the grammatical assumptions and theoretical commitments that underlay the debate of the

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