Null Instantiation Nina Jagtiani and Chris Sams 7420 Fall 2006
What is Null Instantiation? • There are cases where arguments are semantically present, but absent syntactically. • Semantically, we can categorize the missing argument by how it is interpreted. • Syntactically, we can categorize the missing argument by how it is licensed.
Semantic Classification • Indefinite Null Instantiation (INI) • Jena ate. • The referent of the missing argument is not recoverable from the text. • Definite Null Instantiation (DNI) • I told you already. (tell, inform, and notify) • The referent should be recoverable from the context.
Semantic Classification contd. • Constructional Null Instantiation (CNI) • Harsh things were said. • Tell me about yourself. • The referent that is missing is determined by the syntactic construction. (Passives and imperatives allow an unexpressed argument.)
Syntactic Classification • Lexical- The potential for a missing argument comes from the lexical entry of the licensing head e.g. ‘eat’ allows INI of it’s object, but ‘devour’ does not • Systemic- Japanese any argument pro-drop (must be nice) and Spanish ‘pro-drop’. Systemic pro-drop allows DNI.
A claim about the theory... • No language allows INI of subjects. • What is Will’s take on the claim?
Will has reviewed the literature, and has a concern... • The German Impersonal Passive • Hier wird nicht geparkt. (No parking here) • Im Gang wird nicht geraucht (No smoking in the corridor) • Here we seem to have a INI of the subject.
What about Japanese? • Tabeta • I/you/he ate or I/you/he ate it. • Who ate it? • The context determines the meaning.
Evidence for the argument being present on the conceptual level • From Koenig (1993) • La correspondante elle (les) admirait aussi. • The corrispondent she (them) admired also. • Je lui ai fait manger chaudes. • I him have made eat (them) hot
Motion (Fillmore 1986) • Many motion verbs of location, allow DNI of the location SOURCE (leave, depart) GOAL (arrive or come) and LANDMARK (pass or cross). • The solution occurred to me right before I left ( ) at 4pm. • However, with ficitive motion as in ‘the highway passes’ the LANDMARK is not subject to omission. • The highway passes (Springdale) before heading in an easterly direction.
Focal Ellipsis • Let’s look at page 367
Focal Ellipsis • What is missing is a focus rather than a referent that has active discourse status and/or bears the pragmatic relation to the proposition expressed by the clause (Ruppenhofer p. 367)
A nice chart • Let’s look at page 368
Blocked Complements • Page 371-72
% of NI of certain verbs • Page 423
Where to go from here? • Problems: incorporation p. 476 • Cross linguistic concerns? • Is it possible to predict which element of a given verb frame will be NI?