Hi! Does anybody know if it is possible to implement infinitival complements headed by prepositions with the customization questionnaire? This type of complement is very common in Portuguese:
(1) O cachorro começou a latir.
the dog start:IND;PST;PFV;3SG ALL bark:INF
‘The dog started barking.’
(2) O cachorro parou de latir.
the dog stop:IND;PST;PFV;3SG GEN bark:INF
‘The dog has stopped barking.’
(3) Começou a chover.
start:IND;PST;PFV;3SG ALL rain:INF
‘It started to rain.’
(4) Parou de chover.
stop:IND;PST;PFV;3SG GEN rain:INF
‘It stopped raining.’
(5) O cachorro insistiu em latir.
the dog insist:IND;PST;PFV;3SG on bark:INF
‘The dog insisted on barking.’
In (1) and (3), the VP infinitival complement is headed by the preposition a, which I gloss with ALL (allative case), although its meaning is completely opaque in this case. This preposition is also used to express dative case. In (2) and (4), we have a parallel construction with the preposition de, generally used to express genitive case.
In (1)-(4), we have subject raising. The grammatical subject of the main verb is non-thematic. In (5), on the other hand, the main verb’s subject is thematic. This seems to be an equi-deletion construction. From an LFG point of view, there’s subject control in all constructions.
The implementation of these constructions in BrGram, my LFG grammar of Portuguese, was quite straightforward.
I would like to implement these constructions in PorGram, the HPSG grammar for Portuguese I’m developing in collaboration with @arademaker. Our idea is to use the customization questionnaire as much as possible, before starting to hand-code the grammar. However, this has shown to be very difficult in this particular case. In the Clausal Complements section of the questionnaire, note 10 reads: “Subject raising, equi-deletion are not yet supported.”
To implement these complements as VPs seems very natural to me, because the embedded verb’s internal argument receives accusative case, not genitive case (i.e., preposition de ‘of’) as in nominalized verbs, compare (6) with (7):
(6) O cachorro começou a persegui-lo.
the dog start:IND;PST;PFV;3SG ALL chase:INF=3MSG;ACC
‘The dog started chasing it.’
(7) a perseguição do gato
the chase GEN.the cat
the chase of.the cat
‘the cat chase’
I would like to treat the prepositions in (1)-(6) as complementizers, as some people have done with similar constructions in French. However, as far as I could apprehend, this analysis is not supported by the questionnaire.
An alternative way of implementing these constructions would be to treat the verbs as auxiliaries with predicates. In this case, the questionnaire does support subject raising. However, how to specify the preposition/complementizer required by each verb?
My question now is: Is it possible to handle these VPs as nominalized clauses? How to enforce the specific preposition required by each verb?
Any other ideas? @olzama, did you handle similar constructions in your research?