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Remarks on grammatical weight

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 June 2009

Thomas Wasow
Affiliation:
Stanford University

Abstract

Long, complex phrases tend to come at the ends of clauses; this is called “endweight.” A variety of characterizations of weight have been proposed in the literature, but none has been sufficient to cover the full range of attested cases of end-weight. Corpus data on heavy NP shift, the dative alternation, and particle movement indicate that there are several structural measures of weight that are highly correlated with constituent ordering. Proposed explanations for endweight have been based on parsing considerations, largely ignoring the speaker; but what facilitates parsing does not always help in production. Examination of phenomena where these interests do not coincide indicates that the demands of sentence planning provide a better explanation for end-weight than parsing. Finally, accounts of end-weight cannot be purely structure-based, but must take lexical factors into consideration.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1997

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