We’ve seen that a transitive verb combines
with two arguments: the subject, which frequently expresses the agent, although not necessarily,
and the object, which again not necessarily but frequently expresses the theme. And we’ve
also seen that those arguments are combined with the verb in a particular order, so the
verb combines first with the object and forms a constituent with that, and then the result
of that combines with the subject to form a larger constituent. And, we’ve also seen
that we would want to associate or express these selectional properties of the verb by
representing in the lexicon an elementary tree for the verb that shows these positions
for the two arguments. Further, as we’ve already discussed, the properties
of a phrase depend on the properties of the head. So in this case, since the head is a
verb, it projects a verb phrase. So in this more elaborate structure, you can see that
the lexical category of the head, the V, projects first to this larger constituent, the V-bar,
and then to an even larger constituent, VP. We’ve seen phrases of course that have heads
other than V, so we can have phrases headed by prepositions: PPs, or post-positions also.
We’ve seen that you can have phrases headed by adjectives also, so you have adjective
phrases. We can hypothesize that phrases might all
have a similar kind of structure, the kind of structure we’ve just seen for the VP. That
hypothesis is sometimes called the X-bar schema. So according to the X-bar schema, all phrases
have a similar structure to what we’ve just seen for the VP. One way to represent that
is to take a variable to stand for the actual lexical category. So, the head X, which could
be V or A, will combine with one phrase and form a constituent X-bar. So when V combines
with its complement, you get a V-bar, if an adjective combined with a complement you would
get an A-bar. And then, the resulting phrase combines with another phrase, so the V-bar
combines with another phrase and you would get the VP or more generally an X-bar combines
with another phrase and you get the XP. So those two positions for phrases that are
inside this X-bar schema have names just for these positions. So the complement of X is
sister to the head, and then the phrase which is higher up in the structure, which is the
sister to the x-bar, is called the specifier. So, just to summarize, a head (an X), projects
two levels of phrase: it projects to an X-bar, which can contain the head and its… and
the complement of the head, and it can project further to the XP, which would contain also
the specifier. So far, we’ve seen this for verb phrases,
but you could come up with a possible hypothesis for the structure of noun phrases along the
kind of lines that people have already been considering in class, where a noun phrase
would also have a head, N in this case, which would project an N-bar, which would contain
also the complement of the… the nominal head, and then it would project further to
an NP. So that’s one possible structure for nominal phrases. As we’ve already discussed,
in fact there’s an alternative way of looking at nominal phrases which is to consider that
rather than being projections of the noun, they’re projections of the determiner. We’ll
be looking at that in more detail later. In that case, the structure of a nominal phrase,
we would actually want to say that it’s a DP, because it’s projected from the D, rather
than NP, projected from the N, and in the other diagrams that you’ll see, I’ve actually
assumed that’s the case, so you’ll see DPs everywhere, but that’s not important for the
point here, we’re going to look at DPs and NPs later. The point is just that this X-bar
schema is intended as a general scheme for phrases of different categories. As it stands, it looks like that schema is
not going to allow for all of the variety we’ve already seen. In particular, it seems
in some cases it’s going to give us too much structure. So, for example, although a transitive
verb takes a complement as well as a subject, we’ve seen plenty of cases of intransitive
verbs, which have subjects but no objects, so we’ll assume that that complement position
is actually optional and the specifier position, we can assume, also may be optional. And so
it will depend on the particular properties of the head whether it occurs with a complement
and whether it occurs with a specifier. There are also cases where it seems that the
structure that we get from the X-bar schema isn’t actually enough, that we don’t have
enough positions within the phrase if that’s all there is. So two cases you could already
think of are ditransitive verbs, where you actually have three arguments to accommodate,
and also all these cases of modifiers that we’ve seen, where it seems you have an, ah,
an unlimited number of modifiers that can be included in a phrase. We’ll come back to
ditransitives in another class, but we’ll get back to modifiers very shortly.