see for further details

On Lexicalist Treatment of Preposition-Pronoun Contraction in Polish

Beata Trawiński (Tübingen University)

Polish prepositions demonstrate the ability to coalesce with the third person pronouns they select for (cf. (1)). We will refer to this phenomenon as preposition-pronoun contraction (PPC).

(1) w niego ‘in him’ → weń ‘in-him’

Considering the behavior of PPC with respect to the prosodic, categorial, syntactic and semantic properties, PPC appears to be a linguistic phenomenon pertaining to the phonological, morpho-logical, syntactic as well as semantic domain. In view of this fact, PPC poses a challenge for many grammatical theories.

This paper provides a lexicalist formal description of PPC using the theoretical framework of HPSG in the tradition of Pollard and Sag (1994). According to this paradigm, linguistic objects are sets of phonological, morphological, syntactic, semantic and pragmatic information, modeled by feature structures. A conceptual design for linguistic signs of this kind makes it possible to encode generalizations about all linguistic representation levels simultaneously, thereby accounting for a possible interaction between the particular levels. Thus, HPSG provides the necessary means to describe linguistic phenomena such as PPC at the phonology-morphology-syntax-semantics interface. This will be demonstrated in this paper.

Taking into consideration traditional approaches to third person pronouns in Polish which assume only few postprepositional pronouns to be able to coalesce with prepositions, (cf. Saloni (1981)), the generalization can be made on the basis of further empirical observations regarding diverse types of prepositions, that PPC is a highly idiosyncratic phenomenon in Polish. For this reason it seems plausible to assume that PPC is licensed not by general grammar constraints on phrase structure, but rather by the lexical entries of particular prepositions. HPSG, as a lexicalist theory of grammar, offers the possibility to determine the properties of both words and phrases on the word level, thus allowing for an adequate description of the idiosyncratic properties of PPCs. In this paper we will provide a set of lexical implicational constraints which license PPCs.

Treating Polish PPC as a lexical phenomenon provides the possibility to account for the idiosyn-cratic character of PPC, thus avoiding a massive grammar overlicensing.

Pollard, C.J. and I.A. Sag (1994). Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Saloni, Z. (1981). Uwagi o opisie fleksyjnym tzw. zaimków rzeczownych [Some Remarks on the Inflexional Description of Polish Pronouns]. In Acta Universitatis Lodziensis, Volume 2 of Folia Linguistica, pp. 243-253. Łódź: Uniwersytet Łódzki.