Saturday, June 18, 2011
As I was reading an article in today's NYT, the following sentence got me thinking about constituents of the structure [N+V-ing]: "Women driving remains a sensitive issue in Saudi Arabia." In true N+V nominal compounds in Germanic languages, as far as I'm aware, the noun is (nearly?) always an object; SUBJ+V compounds sound odd (almost certainly due to subject-object asymmetry and the structure of the VP). Prosody is helpful here to show that apparent compounds like "women driving" are in fact not compounds at all; cf. ['women 'driving] (two phonological words) vs. ['truck driving] (one). So the -ing form in a constituent like "women driving" must be a complement or adjunct modifying the head noun (as in this very sentence). It's cool when a subtle clue from outside syntax sheds light on a syntactic structure. Image is from here.
Posted by Mark at 1:37 PM