Linguistics in Göttingen - A platform for empirical and theoretical linguistics

Ilse Zimmermann (Potsdam): How much syntax does semantics need? On the syntax and semantics of sentence embedding

This contribution is concerned with the morphosyntax and semantics of verbs like vermuten, beobachten, meinen, related nouns like Vermutung, Beobachtung, Meinung and periphrastic constructions like die Vermutung haben, die Beobachtung machen, der Meinung sein and with the question how these expressions combine with dass-clauses. It is argued that dass-clauses by themselves express propositions, which can be adapted to various functions by semantic type shifts.
While nouns like Vermutung, Idee combine with a proposition indirectly, mediated by the semantic component [CONTENT x p], the noun Tatsache takes a proposition or a nominalization as its direct argument.
A look at relative clauses reveals that they involve the semantic content and the syntactic structure of dass-clauses as expressions of propositions. Only the phrase with the relative pronoun or adverb at their left periphery converts them to predicates.
In view of alarming publications by Kratzer (2015), Moulton (2011, 2013 a, b), Arsenijević (2009, 2014) and Vicente (2014), the paper tries to show that syntax can be pure and economic and that the derivation of corresponding semantic structures needs adaptations and a certain flexibility.