Author Topic: X-Bar Theory and Prepositional Phrase 'fronting' - please help!!!  (Read 301 times)

Offline JWardell

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Hi Everybody (please help),

I’m having trouble deciphering how to diagram a sentence with the adjunctive prepositional phrase at the front of the sentence. As from ‘The boy found the cat in the garden’ to ‘In the garden, the boy found the cat’ and other similar sentences.

Thus, how do I show this ‘movement’ using X-Bar? :)

Any and all comments will be greatly appreciated.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2018, 04:06:19 AM by JWardell »

Offline Daniel

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Re: X-Bar Theory and Prepositional Phrase 'fronting' - please help!!!
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2018, 12:30:35 AM »
The only definitely "correct" answer is: check your textbook (or ask your instructor). Anything else we suggest here might mean you get the question "wrong" on your homework. Why? Because there are different theories out there, even different versions of X-bar theory for some of these details.

X-bar itself doesn't really do well with movement. You need something else to explain that, and that's where this will differ in different textbooks.

If you're using simple X-bar, then you don't really need movement at all. Just stick it on the beginning of a sentence under an X' node and parallel an X' node (where all adjuncts go), in this case probably S'. (Assuming S is the top of your tree as in simple versions of X-bar, before adding in things like TP or CP.)

But if you want to add movement, then most approaches to drawing trees literally add arrows showing the original location (or sometimes an indexed trace of some sort though more often for nouns rather than prepositional phrases), such that there is an adjunct position lower in the tree, and then also higher, where it is moved. The exact details will depend on which iteration/version of the Generative Syntax you're using.

There's no "simple" way to address movement in syntax trees, and therefore also no widespread standard for doing so. The details depend on the theory. See your book, or instructor. You can very easily look up examples of this type in published articles, other textbooks, on Wikipedia, etc., but if they differ from what your textbook/teacher expects, you'll probably get the question "wrong". I'm assuming you're doing this for a class, of course. If not, then compare a few textbooks to see the different options. Or go to some of the original sources, which can be more technical and difficult, but also worthwhile to find the original arguments and see what they were thinking at the time.
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