Posted: September 3rd, 2013
The Verb `To Be’: Existential
This paper goes to show the relationship that occurs between predicates and existentials. The analysis of Ray Freeze will be taken into account in order to help build oh the argument. This analysis will help in showing the similarities that occur in the structure of the existential and predicate locative. A correlation exists between predications and the existential. A theory assumes that the ‘have’ predication, the existential and the predicate locative share a common structural origin. Existential construction is given the subject ‘there’. This is common in the English language. However, other languages may assume the subjects like ‘to be’. This construction needs a temporal or a locational adjunct. In the construction of predicate locatives, the predicate shows location. The English language uses normal copular verbs as locative words while in other languages special words that generally translate to ‘be at’ are used. The construction of the ‘have’ predicate involves the use of non-transitory and individual level properties. These properties are descriptions like those of possession, relational characteristics, property attribution and kinship. These components of universal locative paradigm share a common underlying structure that is evident in their predicate phrase which is headed by a preposition.
The Verb `To Be’: Existential
The verb to be is a stative verb. This is to imply that the auxiliary verb states conditions that are either changing or those that are not. They give the characteristic of individuals or items. The verb to be is an irregular verb that assumes different forms at different times. In the pretense tense, the verb can take the forms of I am, you are, it is, she is or he is. These verbs also have their plural forms. In the past tense, the verbs take the forms of I was, you were, she was, he was or it was. On the other hand, the verb to be in the perfect and progressive tenses takes the forms been and being respectively. The existential form of the verb to be is a copula that links the predicate to the subject of a sentence. The linking verb gives no action in a statement. This is because the subject is re-identified by the predicate or adjective complement. Examples of the usage of the verb to be in its existential form are:
The phrases, ‘Director of Student Affairs’ and ‘extremely tiresome’ are examples of a predicate and adjective complement respectively. Both the phrases modify the subject. The underlined words, ‘is’ and ‘was’ are the verbs to be in their existence forms.
A correlation exists between predications and the existential. A theory assumes that the ‘have’ predication, the existential and the predicate locative share a common structural origin. Existential construction is given the subject ‘there’. This is common in the English language. However, other languages may assume the subjects like ‘to be’. This construction needs a temporal or a locational adjunct. In the construction of predicate locatives, the predicate shows location. The English language uses normal copular verbs as locative words while in other languages special words that generally translate to ‘be at’ are used. The construction of the ‘have’ predicate involves the use of non-transitory and individual level properties. These properties are descriptions like those of possession, relational characteristics, property attribution and kinship. These components of universal locative paradigm share a common underlying structure that is evident in their predicate phrase which is headed by a preposition.
In the publication, Existentials and Other Locatives, Ray Freeze analyses the reduction of surface structures to interact in a common underlying structure. These surface structures will also exhibit independently established principles. Freeze argues that the reduction results to a different generative analysis. This new analysis is of locative predications. He suggests that the construction of components of the universal locative paradigm is derived from a common abstract syntactic structure. The structure is simple and shared among the predicate locative, existential and ‘have’ predicate (Freeze, 1992, 552).
Ray Freeze predicated his argument on standard generative forms. He did not introduce new theoretical devices in his unified analysis. The unified theory surrounding locative predications dictates that extensive cross linguistic corpus give rise to a formation of the English existential locative of ‘there’. Freeze shows the relationship that exists between possessive expressions and existentials. The analysis also shows locativity in possessive expressions. Freeze’s thematic arguments are theme and location. In his publication, the author provided an explanation for the variation that occurs in the different structures that is exhibited in different languages. The author brings out the relationship that occurs among locative predications in relation to Universal Grammar. Freeze shows the abstract principles and modules that exist in predications of Universal Grammar. He gives a generative account for these predications (Freeze, 1992, 554).
Concord between the Existential and Predicate Locative
The author expressed how there is a locative argument when it comes to the position of a subject in the existential. To prove this point Ray Freeze analyzed the Russian language. The results of the author’s analysis show that the English language is one of the few that has expletive subjects in its existentials. The analysis shows that in Russian, its existential has an inverted locative structure. He furthers this argument by introducing independent thoughts to the structure of the Russian language. These arguments will give a will show the existential that exists within the locative argument of Russian (Freeze, 1992, 555).
Freeze establishes that in Universal Grammar various structural variations occur in relation to proforms and locative subject existentials. He affirms that in some language, either or both may exist in the structures of their sentences. The author establishes that the predicate and existential assume different positions in different languages. The examples in the table show that there is a first sentence that has a predicative locative that contains a theme subject. The sentences that follow are described as existentials in descriptive grammars. The constituents of theme subject and predicate locative are seen to be in contrasting orders. This shows that the existential and the predicative locative represent different orders of the one constituent (556).
Other languages show a variance in the system of order alterations. These languages instead have proforms in their existentials instead of inverting the order of their constituents. In these cases, the predicate locative may not be different from the existential. This similarity occurs in regards to the order of the location and theme. In the English language, the order assumed is the existential’s subject, theme then the locative phrase. The existential subject is usually ‘there’ and is followed by varying forms of ‘be’. In the analysis of the English language, the author made the assumption that the subject position is the argument in instances where the existential has no proforms. Freeze pointed out that a locative- phrase subject found in the existential is the most common form among the different languages. Russian is an example of a language that assumes this order. The proforms existential experiences a cross linguistic exception. The table below shows the basic order of languages in regards constituents of existentials (556).
|Hindi||Subject Object Verb||Locative Theme Copula|
|Russian||–||Locative Copula Theme|
|Finnish||Subject Verb Order||Locative Copula Theme|
The Existential and Predicate Locatives as Complimentary Phrases
Freeze argues that the complimentary aspect of the existential and predicate locatives is evident in the concept of ‘definiteness effect’ (Freeze, 1992, 557). The author points out the predictability in determining the sequence that the constituents of the existential and predicate locative are displayed. Freeze suggests that when there is a definite theme argument, then it becomes the subject. In instances where the theme argument is indefinite, the locative phrase becomes the subject.
From the above example, the subject in the predicate locative is the theme argument. The existential in Russian will need an indefinite theme and the subject becomes the locative. Contrary to English, Russian does not have proform existential. Most languages have indefinite themes in their existentials. Where the theme is definite, then the predicate locative structure is assumed. This is the case in Russian where the indefinite themes are restricted to the only the existential. The predicate locative however, may either have a definite or indefinite subject. Freeze affirms that the existential and the predicate locative. Though the two perform different functions but syntactically they are similar (Freeze, 1992, 564). The table below shows the complementary aspect that exists between the existential and the predicate locative. The subject is recorded in italics.
|Russian||Subject Verb Object||Theme Copula Locative||Locative Copula Theme|
|Chamorro||Verb Object Subject||Copula Theme Locative||Copula Theme Locative|
|Tagalog||Verb Subject Order||Copula Theme Locative||Copula Theme Locative|
|Hindi||Subject Object Verb||Theme Locative Copula||Locative Theme Copula|
Structure of the Proform Existential
Some of the languages that exhibit existential proforms are Palauan, Catalan and Palestinian Arabic (Freeze, 1992, 564). Through the comparison of the syntactic structures of these languages, Freeze showed the need to scrutinize the syntactic nature of proforms before integration of proform existentials into the comprehensive unitary theory. Freeze questioned whether or not the proform in the existential is locative. Apart from this, the author also analyzes the positions that the proforms occupy. In the analysis of whether the proform is locative, Freeze noted that the locative-phrase subjects and the existential participate in complementary distributions. The author brings out the argument that the complementary distribution is a result of an intralanguage alteration that involves the existential and predicate locative.
Ray Freeze went further to investigate whether the proforms were locative. The author pointed out that lexically, proforms are locative. He identified languages like Spanish, French, Italian and Catalan where ‘there’ is cognate to –y, y, ci and hi respectively. In the same way, the proforms are lexically locative in the verb initial languages. They proforms have a morphology that is locative. This is because they possess prepositional phrases that stem from a derivative of the phrase or one that has a pronominal object. Languages that possess lexically locative proforms are like Samoan, Palestinian Arabic, Gilbertese and Tongan. This characteristic of proforms is naturally occurring in the unitary theory Freeze (Freeze, 1992, 564).
Ray Freeze gave syntactic evidence that qualified the locativity of proforms. He identified intralanguage complementary distributions as one of the syntactic evidences. This distribution in the existential and predicate locative maintains consistency in the case of proform existentials. Languages that exhibit the Verb-Subject-Object and Verb-Object-Subject orders show conformity to the pattern of having subjects of the predicate locative and the existential as the theme and locative respectively. Freeze argued that proforms made an important contribution to locative paradigms. This is because they are found only alongside locative subjects. In the cases of theme subjects, proforms are always absent.
Locativity of existential proforms can also be qualified through verbs that select theme and locativity arguments. These verbs carry their argument to the point of being the main subject of the sentences. The author verified this fact through Chichewa where unccausative verbs which were mostly, motion verbs. These verbs represented the alternation of verbal predicate. In the author’s analysis, some of the unccausative sentences bore similar structures though in varied orders. The sentences experienced alternations in the theme-locative subjects. The following table illustrates this alternation. Locative unaccusatives are the verbs that locative relationships above. They give sub categorization by giving both a locative and theme argument.
The main argument brought out by Ray Freeze concerns the relationship among the constituents of universal locative paradigm. This relationship exists because of the similarity in the constituent structures. The existential and the predicate locative are derived from a similar structure. I predicate Ray Freeze’s argument on this commonality of structure. In both the existential and the predicate locative, the structures are derived from moving the D- Structure. This can be verified through internal predicate analysis (Gray, 1939, 25). The basis of this analysis is that fronted predicates contain traces of the subject (Gray, 1939, 59). However, there are various reconstruction effects that are caused by predicate fronting. In this fronting, there is the assumption that the phrases exhibit traces of the subject. This then becomes the basis violations of binding principles. This then becomes the support for the internal subject hypothesis (Chomsky, 1986, 105).
Predicate locatives and the existentials have both diachronical and synchronical similarities (Chomsky, 1986, 54). This argument is derived from the fact that the copula is an entirely grammatical element that bears with it unique moods, tenses and surface structures. This is common in the case of stative sentences. This concept then forms the basis for the structural similarities that exist between the existential and the predicate locatives. Despite the major differences that occur in the function of these two phrases, they have syntactic similarities. These similarities exist in an intralanguage perspective. The original deictic participle in the existential I evidence for its diachronic developments. This aspect is commonly seen in European languages like French, English and Italian. These participles are y, there and ci respectively in these three languages. English sentences with this participle are described as locatives while at the same time they can also be referred to as existential. The existential ‘be’ copula in the English language must exist alongside a temporal complement or a locative. This implies that existential sentences are also locative. Locative is taken to refer to the spatial and the temporal reference. The table below illustrates the complimentary relationship that exits between the existential and predicate locative
The basis of the analysis shown in the tree is internal predicate theory (IP). This then breaks the statement of analysis into the predicate (XP) and the inflection (I). The inflection is further broken down to the prepositional predicate phrase (PP). This phrase is further broken down to the noun predicate phrase (NP) and the preposition (P). The preposition is then broken down to the noun predicate phrase and the preposition.
The verb to be is exhibited in its existential form. This form is part of the constituents of universal locative paradigm. This is together with the predicate locative and the ‘have’ predicate. They are pert of the verb ‘to be’. These copulae show various similarities in their structures. However, they show various differences in their functions. In his argument and analysis, Ray Freeze manages to bring out the complimentary aspect of the existential and predicate locative. This similarity is shown in the D- structure that is exhibited both the existential and predicate locative.
Freeze establishes that in Universal Grammar various structural variations occur in relation to proforms and locative subject existentials. He affirms that in some language, either or both may exist in the structures of their sentences. The author establishes that the predicate and existential assume different positions in different languages. Furthermore, predicate locatives and the existentials have both diachronical and synchronical similarities. This argument is derived from the fact that the copula is an entirely grammatical element that bears with it unique moods, tenses and surface structures.
Despite the major differences that occur in the function of these two phrases, they have syntactic similarities. These similarities exist in an intralanguage perspective. Different languages across the globe have similarities in structures of their predicates and existentials. The author establishes that the predicate and existential assume different positions in different languages. These components of universal locative paradigm share a common underlying structure that is evident in their predicate phrase which is headed by a preposition.
Chomsky, N. (1986). Knowledge of language: Its nature, origin, and use. New York: Praeger.
Freeze, R. (1992) Language. Linguistic Society of America. Retrieved from
Gray, L. H. (1939). Foundations of language. New York: The Macmillan Co.
Linguistic inquiry. (1970). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
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