Right node raising

Linguistics Asked by peony fung on October 23, 2021

I encountered a difficult question for syntax.

The authors discuss a special case of coordination called “right node raising”. When both conjuncts have the same string (e.g. typically an object or a complement, i.e. underlined strings) (i.e. (1a), (2a) and (3a)), the shared string (i.e. wavy underlined strings) can appear only once at the end of the clause or “right node raised” (i.e. (1b), (2b) and (3b)).

a. They play unusual music, and I listened to unusual music.
b. They play and I listened to unusual music.

a. Everyone claims that John lied, but Mary does not believe that John lied.
b. Everyone claims but Mary does not believe that John lied.

The question is:

Based on the coordination test results in (1b)—(2b), discuss which
structures above the data support.

Paul claim that the well-formedness of (1b), (2b) implies an
unexpected structure involving the verb and modal.discuss why the test
results in Part A are unexpected. Whenever appropriate, include
relevant examples in your answer.

One Answer

Coordination is supposed to be a test for constituency. Based on this test, it seems that in 1b "they play" and "I listen to" are constituents - precisely because they are coordinated. Same for 2b. Here the coordination test suggests that "everyone claims" and "Mary does not believe" are constituents.

These results are unexpected because (I think) the mainstream view is that in English the subject + verb cannot form a constituent without also including the object. And yet that is what we seem to be seeing here.

Answered by Matthew Gotham on October 23, 2021

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