Government and Binding Theory/Recursion

Government and Binding Theory
IP and CP Recursion DP Hypothesis

Last chapter, we covered one type of recursion we have met before: the complementiser clause. There is another type of recursion we have thus far failed to explain: The adjunct.

Adjuncts are recursive beings


Adjuncts occur after the phrase, so we might be tempted to think that they are complementisers. This is wrong on many levels:

  • Unlike complements, adjuncts are recursive, and we can append lots of these guys.
  • Unlike complements, adjuncts are not subcategorised by the head.
  • Unlike complements, adjuncts can occur before the head: You are really, really annoying.

This leads us to believe that there is another system concerning adjuncts. So, without further ado, let's introduce it:

Rewrite rule for adjuncts

X′ → X′ YP

Note that the projection level remains unchanged after the addition of the adjunct. This is the beauty of the system: It allows for recursion.

Let's look at a few examples of this type of recursion in action:



Moreover, this also explains why adjuncts are not as close to the head than the complement:


This schema would not allow *I talk sadly about the incident.

Of course, this raises the problem of adjuncts that do occur closer to the head than the complement, as in this French example:

(1) Je parle tristement de l'affaire.
(I talk sadly about the incident)

de l'affaire is subcategorised by parler and is thus not regarded as an adjunct, yet it is closer to the head than tristement, an adjunct. This can be solved by changing our rewrite rule:

Rewrite rule for adjuncts

Xn → Xn Ym, where n → {0, 1, 2} and m → {0, 2}

In a few chapters, we will discuss an alternative solution to this phenomenon.