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2.2.5.2. Implicit arguments
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The arguments of picture and story nouns can generally be left unexpressed. This does not imply, however, that they are not syntactically present. We will give some evidence that in many cases at least the agent argument must be assumed syntactically active even if it has no phonetic realization.

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[+]  I.  Picture nouns

An important difference between picture nouns and dyadic ing-nominalizations like vernietiging'destruction' is that the former do not denote states of affairs, but concrete entities; even if a noun phrase is headed by a deverbal picture noun like schilderij'painting' in (477a), it cannot refer to the action denoted by the verb but only to the result of this action, that is, the concrete object that has been created. We may therefore say that deverbal picture nouns are lexicalized in the same sense as lexical deverbal nouns like bestrating'pavement', verzameling'collection' or uitvinding'invention'. This also accounts for the fact that picture nouns can be used quite felicitously without any complements in most cases: since they do not share the denotation of the base verb, they do not inherit the verbʼs argument structure either. Thus, a picture noun like schilderij'painting' in (477a) does not require the presence of a complement, despite the fact that its verbal counterpart schilderen'to paint' normally does; in this sense, it behaves like the non-relational noun fiets'bicycle' in (477b) rather than the ing-noun vernietiging'destruction' in (477c).

Example 477
a. Ik heb gisteren een schilderij gekocht.
  have  yesterday  a painting  bought
  'I bought a painting yesterday.'
b. Ik heb gisteren een fiets gekocht.
  have  yesterday  a bike  bought
  'I bought a bike yesterday.'
c. * Ik heb gisteren een vernietiging gezien.
  have  yesterday  a destruction  seen
  'I saw a destruction yesterday.'

Example (478) shows, however, that leaving out the theme argument does not always yield a fully acceptable result, which suggests that picture nouns may differ with regard to their degree of lexicalization: given that afbeelding'picture' is only felicitous if the theme is expressed, it can be said to have inherited the argument structure of the verb afbeelden'to depict'; since tekening'drawing' does not require the presence of a theme, it can be said to be fully lexicalized.

Example 478
Ik heb een tekening/??afbeelding aan de muur gehangen.
  have  a drawing/picture  on the wall  hung
'Iʼve put a picture on the wall.'

Note, however, that other, more pragmatic factors may come into play. For example when we are dealing with an object of art, as in (479), felicitous use of the noun tekening'drawing' does seem to require the presence of the agent or a theme. This suggests that we are actually not dealing with inherited arguments, but with contextually evoked adjuncts. This may account for the fact that, e.g., adding the name of a style period would also make (479) perfectly natural, and that the preferred addition differs with the expertise or interest of the participants in the conversation: the layman will probably want to know what the drawing represents, whereas someone knowledgeable about art will be interested in the periodization or the maker.

Example 479
? Ik heb op de kunstveiling een tekening gekocht.
  have  on the art auction  a drawing  bought
'Iʼve bought a drawing at the art auction.'

      Although the arguments of a picture noun need not be overtly expressed, they may be implicitly present. This is very clear with unexpressed agent arguments, which may influence the form of referentially dependent theme arguments. In order to see this, first consider the examples in (480). If the theme of a picture noun is bound by (= coreferential with) the agent of the picture noun, as in (480a), it must have the form of a reflexive pronoun like zichzelf'himself', whereas it will normally surface as a personal pronoun if it is bound by a constituent outside the noun phrase, as in (480b). Note that coreferentiality is expressed by mean of subscripts.

Example 480
a. Ik zag zijni foto van zichzelfi/*’mi.
  saw  his picture  of  himself/him
  'I saw his picture of himself.'
b. Jani zag mijn foto van ’mi/*zichzelfi.
  Jan  saw  my picture  of him/himself
  'Jan saw my picture of him.'

The standard explanation of the examples in (480) is roughly that whereas anaphors must be bound in the smallest category containing a potential antecedent, pronouns cannot be bound in that domain; see Section 5.2.1.5, sub III, for a more extensive discussion of this version of Binding Theory. Since the possessive pronoun is a potential antecedent, the relevant binding domain is the noun phrase: the anaphor must and the pronoun cannot be bound in this domain. Now consider example (481a), which shows that the binding behavior of the pronoun remains unaffected when the agent of the noun phrase is not expressed; it can take the subject of the clause as its antecedent, just as in (480b). If we assume that the structure is as given in (481b), the clause will be the smallest category containing a potential antecedent: it therefore functions as the binding domain within which the pronoun must be free (= not bound), and we wrongly predict (481a) to be impossible. This has led to the assumption that the noun phrase contains a phonetically empty pronoun PRO, as indicated in (481b'): as a result, the noun phrase functions as the binding domain of the pronoun and (481a) is correctly predicted to be possible; cf. Chomsky (1986).

Example 481
a. Jani zag een foto van ’mi.
  Jan  saw  a picture  of him
  'Jan saw a picture of himself.'
b. * Jani zag [NP een foto van ’mi].
b'. Jani zag [NP een PROj foto van ’mi].

Note that (481a) cannot be interpreted with the PRO agent being construed as coreferential with Jan, that is, with Jan as the maker of the picture, since in that case the pronoun would again be incorrectly bound in its binding domain by the agent of the picture noun: Jani zag [NP een PROi foto van ’mi]. The proposal also accounts for the fact that (482a) is ungrammatical under the intended idiomatic reading “making a picture”, due to the fact that the verb nemen forces a reading in which the implied PRO argument is coreferential with the subject of the clause, as in (482b).

Example 482
a. * Jani nam een foto van ’mi.
  Jan  took  a picture  of him
  'Jan took a picture of himself.'
b. * Jani nam [NP een PROi foto van ’mi].

The claim that the agent of the picture noun can be syntactically realized by the phonetically empty pronoun PRO is consistent with the acceptability of example (483a), in which the anaphor zichzelf is coreferential with the subject of the clause: the structure in (483b) shows that the anaphor is bound by the implicit PRO agent, which in turn is bound by the subject of the clause.

Example 483
a. Jani nam een foto van zichzelfi.
  Jan  took  a picture  of himself
  'Jan took a picture of himself.'
b. Jani nam [NP een PROi foto van zichzelfi].

There is, however, a complication here concerning the interpretation of example (484a). First assume that the implicit PRO agent is obligatory: since the anaphor zichzelf must be bound by PRO, and since zichzelf is coreferential with the subject of the clause, it would follow that PRO would also be bound by the subject of the clause. This gives rise to structure in (484b) which must be interpreted in such a way that Jan saw a picture of his own making depicting himself. Although this is certainly a possible interpretation, the sentence can also be interpreted in such a way that the picture was made by someone else. We cannot assume, however, that the PRO agent refers to someone else: the structure in (484b') is ungrammatical given that the anaphor is not bound in its binding domain. The intended interpretation can therefore only be accounted for if we assume that the PRO agent is optional: the anaphor in (484b'') has no potential binder within the noun phrase, so that it can take as its antecedent the subject of the clause, which is now the smallest category containing a potential antecedent. Given that there is no PRO agent, there is no implication concerning the identity of the photographer.

Example 484
a. Jani zag een foto van zichzelfi.
  Jan  saw  a picture  of himself
  'Jan saw a picture of himself.'
b. Jani zag [NP een PROi foto van zichzelfi].
b'. * Jani zag [NP een PROj foto van zichzelfi].
b''. Jani zag [NP een foto van zichzelfi].

      A prediction of the claim that picture nouns may have a PRO agent is that anaphors may also be used if there is no local noun phrase that could be used as an antecedent. Consider the examples in (485), in which the subject of the matrix clause is too far away from the anaphor to serve as a local antecedent.

Example 485
a. % [Jan en Marie]i dachten dat er [fotoʼs van zichzelfi] te koop waren.
  Jan and Marie  thought  that  there  pictures of themselves  for sale  were
  'Jan and Marie thought that pictures of themselves were on sale.'
b. ? [Jan en Marie]i dachten dat er [fotoʼs van elkaari] te koop waren.
  Jan and Marie  thought  that  there  pictures of each.other  for sale  were
  'Jan and Marie thought that pictures of each other were on sale.'

Example (485a) is given with a percentage mark given that Vanden Wyngaerd (1994:214ff.) claims it to be ungrammatical, whereas other speakers seem to assign it more or lesss the same status as example (485b), which may be judged as marked but acceptable. That the status of (485a) is unclear is furthermore evident from the fact (i) that Vanden Wyngaerd does not assign it a full star but “?*”, (ii) that he claims that its status improves if we add a restrictive clause as in een foto van zichzelf die hij onlangs had genomen'a picture of himself that he made recently', and (iii) that he goes to some length to show that the construction does not display the properties that he takes to be typical for control structures, e.g. that the presumed PRO-subject may not take a split or non-c-commanding antecedent.

Example 486
a. * Jani vertelde Mariej dat er [PROi+j fotoʼs van zichzelfi+j] te koop waren.
  Jan  told  Marie  that  there  pictures of themselves  for sale  were
  'Jan and Marie thought that pictures of themselves were on sale.'
b. * [Janiʼs moeder] dacht dat er [PROi fotoʼs van zichzelfi] te koop waren.
  Janʼs mother thought  that  there  pictures of himself  for sale were
  'Janʼs mother thought that pictures of himself were on sale.'

It should be noted that Vanden Wyngaerdʼs rejection of a PRO agent in picture noun constructions is related to the specific theory of control he endorses, and that it is not clear whether the same conclusion follows from other proposals. It seems, however, that the acceptability of (485b) can be used in support of the postulation of a PRO agent in picture nouns. Furthermore, it might be the case that the degraded status of (485a) is due to the fact that this example competes with the fully acceptable structure in (487a) with the referential personal pronoun hen'them': given the fact established earlier that the PRO agent need not be present, this example may be more economical in the sense that co-reference can be established in a more direct way than in (485a). This preference may further be enhanced by the fact illustrated in (487b&c) that the referential personal pronouns may also be used in examples such as (486) with a split a non-c-commanding antecedent.

Example 487
a. [Jan en Marie]i dachten dat er [fotoʼs van heni] te koop waren.
  Jan and Marie  thought  that  there  pictures of them  for sale  were
  'Jan and Marie thought that pictures of themselves were on sale.'
b. Jani vertelde Mariej dat er [fotoʼs van heni+j] te koop waren.
  Jan  told  Marie  that  there  pictures of them  for sale  were
  'Jan told Marie that pictures of them were on sale.'
c. * [Janiʼs moeder] dacht dat er [PROi fotoʼs van hemi] te koop waren.
  Janʼs mother thought  that  there  pictures of him  for sale were
  'Janʼs mother thought that pictures of him were on sale.'

A similar competition is, of course, not found in the case reciprocal pronouns like elkaar'each other' in example (485b), given that referential pronouns like hen'them' cannot express the relation of reciprocity.
      It may be interesting to note that the reflexive form ’ mzelf can also be used in picture noun contexts. The examples in (488) show that, like zichzelf, this reflexive form must have an antecedent, but it seems to differ from zichzelf in that it cannot be bound by an antecedent within the noun phrase. Some care is needed, however, since the binding behavior of ’mzelf has not been discussed much in the literature; the most extensive discussion can be found in Koster (1987: 344 ff.), and even this discussion is no longer than two pages. Furthermore, Koster claims there that ’mzelf can be bound by the agent in ing-nominalizations like Jansi beschrijving van ’mzelfi 'Janʼs description of himself', so it might be the case that some people have more liberal judgments concerning (488b). However, since the informants we have consulted agree that the examples in (488) contrast in the way indicated, we will adopt the judgments given there as an idealization of the data, but more research is certainly needed.

Example 488
a. * Ik bekeek mijn foto van zichzelf/’mzelf.
  looked.at  my picture  of  himself
b. Ik bekeek Jansi foto van zichzelfi/*’mzelfi.
  looked.at  Janʼs picture  of  himself
c. Jani bekeek mijn foto van ’mzelfi/*zichzelfi.
  looked.at  my picture  of  himself

The fact that ’mzelf cannot have an antecedent within the noun phrase immediately accounts for the contrast in (489): example (489a) contains an (optional) PRO agent which is disjoint in reference from the subject of the clause and ’mzelf can therefore be correctly bound by an antecedent external to the noun phrase; the noun phrase in the idiomatic example in (489b) obligatorily contains a PRO agent that is coreferential with the subject of the clause, so that ’mzelf is incorrectly bound in the noun phrase.

Example 489
a. Jani zag een foto van ’mzelfi.
  Jan  saw  a picture  of him/himself
  'Jan saw a picture of him/himself.'
a'. Jani zag [NP een PROj foto van ’mzelfi].
b. # Jani nam een foto van ’mzelfi.
  Jan  took  a picture  of himself
b'. * Jani nam [NP een PROi foto van ’mzelfi].

For completeness’ sake, note that examples (484a) and (489a) allow an alternative reading in which the reflexive form refers not to the theme but to the agent of the picture noun. This reading is excluded with pronouns, which follows immediately from the standard Binding Theory given that the noun phrase does not contain a PRO agent (this function being performed by the pronoun itself); the clause therefore constitutes the binding domain within which the pronoun must be free. In (490) coreference is indicated by italics.

Example 490
a. Jan zag [NP een foto van zichzelfAgent/’mzelfAgent]
  Jan saw  a picture  of himself
  'Jan saw a picture by himself.'
b. * Jan zag [NP een foto van hemAgent]
  Jan saw  a picture  of himself
  'Jan saw a picture by himself.'

      If the line of reasoning above is correct, we may conclude from the binding facts discussed above that in many cases in which the agent of the picture noun is not visible, it can nevertheless be syntactically present as a phonetically empty PRO argument. This empty PRO agent is normally not obligatory, however.

[+]  II.  Story nouns

In some cases complements of deverbal story nouns cannot felicitously be left out, whereas in other cases explicit mention of the complements does not seem to be required (although they will generally be implied). The two cases are related to the interpretation of the noun. Example (491) shows that explicit mention of at least one of the complements is preferred if the noun phrase has abstract reference, that is, refers to the contents of some object.

Example 491
a. Jan heeft naar een voordracht ?(van MulischAgent) geluisterd.
  Jan has  to a lecture     of Mulisch  listened
  'Jan has listened to a lecture by Mulisch'
a'. Jan heeft naar een voordracht ?(over MulischTheme) geluisterd.
  Jan has  to a lecture    about Mulisch  listened
  'Jan has listened to a lecture (on Mulisch).'
b. Jan heeft een opstel ??(van een medestudentAgent) bestudeerd.
  Jan has  an essay     of a fellow.student  studied
  'Jan has read an essay by a fellow student.'
b'. Jan heeft een opstel ??(over MulischTheme) bestudeerd.
  Jan has  an essay     about Mulisch  studied
  'Jan has studied an essay on Mulisch.'

However, if the referent is a concrete object, as in (492), neither argument needs to be expressed. This suggests that the concrete interpretation in (492) involves a higher level of lexicalization: the examples in (491) are nominalizations, and only in (492) are we dealing with true story nouns. Recall that the discussion of the examples in (468) already led to a similar conclusion.

Example 492
a. Ik heb een opstel (van een medestudentAgent) ingeleverd.
  have  an essay   of a fellow student  handed.in
  'Iʼve handed in an essay (by a fellow student).'
b. Ik heb een voordracht (over MulischTheme) uitgetypt.
  have  a lecture  about/of Mulisch  typed.out
  'Iʼve typed out a lecture (on Mulisch).'

      Note that the implied agent in the nominalizations in the primed examples of (491) is necessarily disjoint in reference with the subject: the orator/writer cannot be Jan. These examples differ in this respect from those in (493), which also have abstract reference, where the agent is necessarily coreferential with the subject.

Example 493
a. Ik heb een voordracht (over Mulisch) gehouden.
  have  a lecture   about Mulisch  kept
  'Iʼve given a lecture (on Mulisch).'
b. Ik heb een opstel (over Mulisch) geschreven.
  have  an essay   about Mulisch  written
  'Iʼve written an essay (on Mulisch).'

The fact that the theme can readily be left out in (493) can perhaps be accounted for by claiming that the agent is syntactically expressed by means of a phonetically empty pronoun PRO, given that the examples in (491) have already shown that we do not have to express both arguments; expression of either the theme or the agent is sufficient. Postulating a PRO agent for the nominalizations in (493) raises the question, however, why it is not readily possible to leave the theme argument unexpressed in the primed examples of (491); it suggests that PRO need not be present in this case, which may be independently supported by our discussion of the binding data in (496) and (497) below.
      The examples in (494) show that when the story noun is not derived from a verb, the complements need not be expressed: both the agent and the theme can readily be left out, even if it is the contents of the story noun that are relevant. This means that, like the picture nouns, story nouns behave like non-relational nouns like fiets'bicycle' rather than the ing-nominalization vernietiging'destruction'.

Example 494
a. Ik heb gisteren een boek (van MulischAgent) gelezen.
  have  yesterday  a book   of Mulisch  read
  'I bought a book by Mulisch yesterday.'
a'. Ik heb gisteren een boek (over MulischTheme) gelezen.
  have  yesterday  a book   about Mulisch  read
  'I bought a book about Mulisch yesterday.'
b. Ik heb gisteren een film (van HitchcockAgent) gezien.
  have  yesterday  a film   of Hitchcock  seen
  'I saw a Hitchcock film yesterday.'
b'. Ik heb gisteren een film (over NixonTheme) gezien.
  have  yesterday  a film   about Nixon  seen
  'I saw a film about Nixon yesterday.'

However, as in the case of picture nouns, unexpressed agent arguments can be implicitly present, which is shown by the fact that they may influence the form of a referentially dependent theme argument. In order to see this, first consider the examples in (495), which again show that an anaphor must be bound in the smallest domain that contains a potential antecedent, whereas pronouns must be free in that domain.

Example 495
a. Ik las zijni verhaal over zichzelfi/*’mi.
  read  his story  about himself/him
  'I read his story about himself.'
b. Jani las mijn verhaal over ’m i/*zichzelfi.
  Jan  read  my story  about him/himself
  'Jan read my story about him.'

The fact that the pronoun in (496a) can be used in order to refer to the subject of the clause gives rise to the idea that the agent of the story noun is realized as a phonetically empty PRO argument. The fact that this PRO argument cannot be interpreted as coreferential with the subject of the clause without invoking a violation of the binding condition on the pronoun correctly predicts that the story was written by someone else. It also follows that examples such as (496b), where the verb forces a reading according to which PRO is interpreted as coreferential with the subject of the clause, are ungrammatical. The account of the examples in (496) is therefore completely parallel to that of (481) and (482).

Example 496
a. Jani las een verhaal over ’mi.
  Jan  read  a story  about him
  'Jan read a story about him/himself.'
a'. Jani las [NP een PROj/*i verhaal over ’mi].
b. * Jani schreef een verhaal over ’mi.
  Jan  wrote  a story  about him
  'Jan wrote a story about himself.'
b'. * Jani schreef [NP een PROi verhaal over ’mi].

The examples in (497) show that the anaphor can also be construed as coreferential with the subject of the clause. These examples can be accounted for along the lines of those in (483) and (484): the fact that (497a) is acceptable is consistent with the idea that the noun phrase contains a PRO agent, which is coreferential with the subject of the clause; the fact that (497b) is acceptable despite the fact that the agent of the story noun is not coreferential with the subject in the clause shows that the PRO agent of the story noun need not be syntactically present.

Example 497
a. Jani schreef een verhaal over zichzelfi.
  Jan  wrote  a story  about himself
  'Jan wrote a story about himself.'
a'. Jani schreef [NP een PROi verhaal over zichzelfi].
b. Jani las een verhaal over zichzelfi.
  Jan  read  a story  about himself
  'Jan read a story about him/himself.'
b'. Jani las [NP een verhaal over zichzelfi].

      Use of the reflexive form ’mzelf is unproblematic in constructions with the verb lezen'read' in (498a): this is as predicted given that ’mzelf can be bound by the subject of the clause, while remaining free in its noun phrase. Our discussion so far predicts that (498b) should be excluded given that it is bound by the PRO agent within its noun phrase; the fact that this example seems marginally possible may therefore be unexpected. More research on the status of examples like these is needed, however, before we can draw any serious conclusions.

Example 498
a. Jani las [NP een PROj verhaal over ’mzelfi].
  Jan  read  story  about himself
  'Jan read a story about him/himself.'
b. ? Jani schreef [NP een PROi verhaal over ’mzelfi].
  Jan  wrote  story  about himself

      As in the case of the picture nouns, the most important conclusion for our present purpose that can be drawn from the binding facts discussed above is that in many cases in which the agent of the picture noun is not visible it can nevertheless be syntactically present as a (normally optional) PRO argument.

References:
  • Chomsky, Noam1986Knowledge of language. Its nature, origin, and useNew York/Westport/LondonPraeger
  • Koster, Jan1987Domains and dynasties. The radical autonomy of syntaxDordrecht/ProvidenceForis Publications
  • Wyngaerd, Guido vanden1994PRO-legomena. Distribution and Reference of infinitival subjectsLinguistic Models 19Berlin/New YorkMouton de Gruyter
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