Tag Archives: raising

A Question of Alignment X: Raising

  • Example (6) in this article is likely wrong, structurally. I’ll update it when I’ve figured some more things out.
  • It’s internally more consistent to maybe analyze it as a VP complement getting its verb extracted and adjoined as a complement to the main verb. There is no “incorporation” of the subordinate object into the matrix clause as such. [Figure 1] [Figure 2]

In this series of blog articles—taken (more or less) straight from the current working draft of chapter 5.4 of the new grammar for better visibility and as a direct update of an old article (“Flicking Switches: Ayeri and the Austronesian Alignment”, 2012-06-27)—I will finally reconsider the way verbs operate with regards to syntactic alignment.

All articles in this series: Typological Considerations · ‘Trigger Languages’ · Definition of Terms · Some General Observations · Verb agreement · Syntactic Pivot · Quantifier Float · Relativization · Control of Secondary Predicates · Raising · Control · Conclusion


Raising verbs involve the sharing of the subject of an embedded clause with the structural subject or object position of its matrix clause; the complement clause’s subject appears as a gap in English. The raised subject is not semantically an argument of the matrix clause’s verb. The matrix clause’s subject may also be a dummy ‘it’ or ‘there’ in English.

    1. It seemed that Johni knows the answer.
    2. Johni seemed _i to know the answer.
    3. *Johni seemed it.

    1. I expected that Lindai sings the national anthem.
    2. I expected Linda _i to sing the national anthem.
    3. !I expected Linda.

Kroeger (1991: 27–28) states that, as expected, raising is restricted to nominative arguments in Tagalog. Non-nominative actors may be raised into the matrix clause as well, however, but at least for some speakers there needs to be a resumptive pronoun—basically, an overt pronominal ‘trace’ in terms of GG—in the complement clause, as shown in (4). Example (3) shows a case of raising of the nominative argument of the complement clause to the patient of a transitive verb; the nominative argument of the complement clause subsequently is realized as a gap coindexed with the patient of the matrix clause, that is, the raised argument. In English, one would speak of to-object raising, though here the patient of gusto, sila, is in its nominative form, so syntactically, ng Nanay ‘mother’, the actor, is the object in this clause. In (4a), the verb of the complement clause, lutuin ‘cooks’, marks its patient argument as the subject. Yet, the non-subject agent, Charlie, is raised to occupy the patient role in the matrix clause. The position of the non-subject agent in the complement clause is subsequently realized as a resumptive pronoun, niya, coindexed with the raised NP. Example (4b) shows that it would be ungrammatical to have a gap in its stead.

  1. Tagalog (adapted from Kroeger 1991: 26):

  1. Tagalog (adapted from Kroeger 1991: 28):
    1. *gusto ko si Charliei na lutuin _i ang suman

Kroeger (1991) presumably switches to labeling the raised NP as ABS in (4) because it is the patient-subject of gusto ‘want’ (note the actor ko occurs in genitive case); the patient of the embedded clause, suman ‘rice cake’, is also marked as a subject with the verb indicating this by object-voice marking. This is basically consistent with how an ABSERG language would mark subjects. Unfortunately, Kroeger (1991) only gives examples of ‘to-patient’ raising, but not of ‘to-actor’ raising (Carnie 2013: 430). As we will see below, Ayeri has no problem with the former (as to-subject raising), however, it cannot do the latter (as to-object raising), probably for semantic reasons. First of all, let us look at to-subject raising, however.

    1. *

      Surpye {ang Pada.}

      surp-ye ang=Pada

      seem-3SG.F A=Pada

      ‘Pada seems.’

In (5), Pada is both the topic and the subject of koron- ‘know’, but not of surp- ‘seem’, as (5d) shows. However, Pada can be made the subject of the matrix clause, as shown in (5b). Raising results in an intransitive matrix clause, which means that topicalizing the only argument of the verb is blocked, as illustrated by the ungrammaticality of (5c). The verb in (5b) also becomes non-finite, like in English. Unlike in Tagalog, it cannot carry any marking for grammatical relations. Furthermore, it is possible in Ayeri to form a complex predicate like surp- koronyam in (6), literally ‘seems knowing’, with all of the arguments of the embedded clause becoming arguments of the matrix clause, that is, the matrix verb is interpreted as a transitive clause and may carry topic marking for any of its syntactic (rather than semantic) arguments.

If the topic is actually the subject, it should be possible in Ayeri to raise non-actor topics into the matrix clause easily. Of course, this is possible in Tagalog. In (7a), thus, Manuel is the one arrested, so he is the patient of the subordinate clause which acts as the subject of the matrix clause. The fact that Manuel is a patient-subject of the subordinate verb, hulihin ‘be caught’, is reflected in its being marked for objective voice. The English translation is consequently given with the subordinate clause phrased in the passive voice. Similarly, in (7b), the subordinate verb, sinuhulan ‘be bribed’, is marked for directional voice. According to this, ang pangulo ‘the president’ is a non-actor subject of the subordinate verb here as well. It also is in the matrix clause, since the matrix verb, napagbintangan ‘be accused of’, is marked for directional voice.

  1. Tagalog (adapted from Kroeger 1991: 26):

As we have seen above, the marking of the privileged NP on the verb in Ayeri has no effect on grammatical relations; making a transitive verb agree with an NP other than the agent NP was also judged questionable. Thus, we would expect Ayeri to not allow for the same flexibility as Tagalog. The next two sets of example sentences, (8) and (9), thus feature non-actor topics in the complement clause in the (a) examples which we attempt to raise into the subject position of the matrix clause in the (b) examples.

Comparing (8) and (9) with (7a) and (7b), it becomes apparent that Ayeri is very dissimilar to Tagalog with regards to the promotion of a non-actor NP to the subject of the matrix clause in that it is not possible to produce a grammatical result this way. Besides yet more evidence for the disconnect between the marking on the verb and subject assignment and also evidence in favor of an interpretation of the actor NP as the subject, it is possibly the fact that the subordinate verb appears in a non-finite form when raising occurs that prevents some of the flexibility of Tagalog observed above. Even if Ayeri were to work like Tagalog large and by, since finiteness in Ayeri also includes topic marking, it would not be possible for the non-finite verb to mark the assignment of grammatical roles to its complements, overt or covert.

The examples (3) and (4) from Tagalog quoted initially both feature to-object raising: the subject of the complement clause becomes an object of the matrix clause’s verb. This phenomenon is also known as exceptional case marking (ECM) or accusative and infinitive (AcI) and entails that the matrix verb assigns accusative/objective case to the raised subject (Carnie 2013: 439–442). The raised subject is not semantically an object of the matrix verb, however, but an external agent:

    1. Mother wants them to study tonightMother wants them
    2. Mary expects him to tidy the roomMary expects him
    3. John hears people sing in the streetJohn hears people

Ayeri avoids this kind of construction. The reason for this is probably that even though it treats agent and patient as semantic metaroles rather permissively, case marking is nonetheless based on semantic roles rather than purely based on syntactic function. Due to the uniqueness condition, a verb in Ayeri cannot have two agent arguments, yet the raised object is an agent, albeit an external one. It is still salient enough as an agent to preclude assigning it patient case, though.

    1. Galamye {ang Sipra,} {ang sibunja} Ijān sangalas.

      galam-ye ang=Sipra ang=sibund-ya Ø=Ijān sangal-as

      expect-3SG.F A=Sipra AT=tidy-3SG.M TOP=Ijān room-P

      ‘Sipra expects that Ijān tidy up the room.’

    2. *

      {Ang galamye} Sipra {ang/sa Ijān} sibunjam sangalas.

      ang=galam-ye Ø=Sipra ang=/sa=Ijān sibund-yam sangal-as

      AT=expect-3SG.F TOP=Sipra A=/P=Ijān tidy-PTCP room-P

      Intended: ‘Sipra expects Ijān to tidy up the room.’

    3. *

      {Ang galamye} sibunjam Sipra {sa Ijān} sangalas.

      ang=galam-ye sibund-yam Ø=Sipra sa=Ijān sangal-as

      AT=expect-3SG.F tidy-PTCP TOP=Sipra P=Ijān room-P

      Intended: ‘Sipra expects Ijān to tidy up the room.’

The example sentences in (11) show that to-object raising is not possible with verbs of wanting—here using galam- ‘expect’ by way of example. That is, the subject of the complement clause in (11a), Ijān, cannot take the object position of the matrix clause in (11b), nor is it possible to form a complex predicate with the arguments of the subordinate verb, sibund- ‘tidy’, becoming arguments of the matrix clause’s verb, galam- ‘expect’, in the way of (6) in (11c).

Other verbs which allow to-object raising in English include verbs of wanting like need or want, or verbs of perception like see or hear. English also permits this construction for verbs of cognition like believe, consider, know, and think, and for verbs expressing a causative relationship like make or let. Verbs like make or let do not have direct counterparts in Ayeri, as Ayeri uses a morphosyntactic strategy rather than a lexical one to express causative relationships. However, as (12) shows, Ayeri does not allow to-object raising with verbs of perception and verbs of cognition either.

    1. *

      {Ang tangya} Yan keynamas malyyam kirinya.

      ang=tang-ya Ø=Yan keynam-as maly-yam kirin-ya

      A=hear-3SG.M TOP=Yan people-P sing-PTCP street-LOC

      ‘Yan hears people sing in the street.’

    2. *

      Paronyeng {sa Avan} tesayam.

      paron=yeng sa=Avan tesa-yam

      believe=3SG.F.A P=Avan lie-PTCP

      ‘She believes Avan to lie.’

Subordinating Verbs: A Small Blast from the Past

I was recently thinking about this with regards to writing my New and Improved (tee-em) grammar of Ayeri and my previous post on subordinating verbs. I saw subordinating verbs as posing the problem of putting too much stuff in the constituent that holds the verb. As a solution, I described moving the complement of the main verb into a finite complement clause if it’s more than intransitive. However, when I did some analysis of verbs yesterday to maybe shed some light on the alternation between -isa and -isu in deverbal adjectives, I came across the following example sentence in the entry for pinya ‘ask’, entered October 24, 2008:

  1. Sa
    Sa
    PT
    pinyayāng
    pinya=yāng
    ask=3SG.M.A
    ye
    ye
    3SG.F.TOP
    rimayam
    rima-yam
    close-PTCP
    silvenoley.
    silveno-ley
    window-P.INAN

    ‘Her he asks to close the window.’

Material from 2008 is not quite fresh anymore, but going through my example texts, I also found the following sentence fragment in the 2010/11 Conlang Holiday Card Exchange (interlinear glossing updated to current standards):

  1. nārya
    nārya
    but
    le
    le
    PT.INAN
    tavisayang
    tavisa=yang
    receive=1S.A
    takan
    takan-Ø
    chance-TOP
    incam
    int-yam
    buy-PTCP
    dagangyeley
    dangang-ye-ley
    card-PL-P.INAN

    ‘but I got the chance to buy cards’

In both cases, the subordinating verb is transitive: (1) ‘he asks her’, (2) ‘I got the chance’; pinya- ‘ask’ in (1) is a raising an object-control verb (the logical subject of the subordinate verb is the object of the verb in the matrix clause), while int- ‘buy’ in (2) should simply be an infinite clausal complement. However, in both cases we do neither get the complement awkwardly placed in the middle, nor are the sentences rephrased so as to result in a finite complement clause or a nominalized complement to avoid the infinite verb form:

    1. ??
      Sa
      Sa
      PT
      pinyayāng
      pinya=yāng
      ask=3SG.M.A
      rimayam
      rima-yam
      close-PTCP
      silvenoley
      silveno-ley
      window-P.INAN
      ye.
      ye
      3SG.F.TOP

      ‘Her he asks to close the window.’
    2. Pinyayāng,
      pinya=yāng,
      ask=3SG.M.A,
      ang
      ang
      AT
      rimaye
      rima=ye.Ø
      close=3SG.F.TOP
      silvenoley.
      silveno-ley
      window-P.INAN

      ‘He asks that she closes the window.’

    1. nārya
      nārya
      but
      le
      le
      PT.INAN
      tavisayang
      tavisa=yang
      receive=1S.A
      takan
      takan-Ø
      chance-TOP
      intanena
      intan-ena
      purchase-GEN
      dagangyena
      dangang-ye-na
      card-PL-GEN

      ‘but I got the chance of a purchase of cards’
    2. nārya
      nārya
      but
      le
      le
      PT.INAN
      tavisayang
      tavisa=yang
      receive=1S.A
      takan,
      takan-Ø,
      chance-TOP,
      ang
      ang
      AT
      incay
      int=ay.Ø
      buy=1SG.TOP
      dagangyeley
      dangang-ye-ley
      card-PL-P.INAN

      ‘but I got the chance that I buy cards’

Both constructions, (1) and (2) are not widely attested in my materials, and the new grammar doc as it currently is does not rule out cases like (2), insofar I only need to make up my mind about constructions like in (1): continue allowing them as a variant, declare them ungrammatical, or simply ignore them? In the first case I might be required to keep a VP or a functional equivalent of it, after all, since there would be a post-subject position associated with verbs, then. In any case, raising and control should be interesting topics to come to terms with in my conlang.