Secondary Predication and Non-Verbal Predicates

N O T ...Q U I T E ...R E A D Y

We say that a predication relation holds between an [srs -] constituent and whatever instantiates the [gf subj] argument of the head of that constituent. The simplest case is the Subject- Predicate Construction: the right member of that construction stands in the predication relation to the left member. Thus, we find predication linking the two parts of each of the following sentences:

[1] Some S/P Constructs

  1. [Patrick] [disappeared]
  2. [The children] [want to stay here]
  3. [Susan] [seems angry]
  4. [I] [was unhappy]
In each of the above examples, the entire phrase occupying the second half of the Subject/Predicate segmentation of the sentence is the primary predicate and the finite verb which heads it could be called the primary predicator. The latter is the verb for whose valence the left constituent satisfies the [gf subj] argument. In sentence (1), the [gf subj] of the verb "disappear" is directly instantiated as the subject of the sentence. In (2), the NP "the children" instantiates the [gf subj] of both its primary predicator "want" and (derivatively, by way of coinstantiation) that of "stay". In saying that the predication relationship between "(to) stay" and "the children" is secondary, we refer to the fact that the relationship is mediated by the co-instantiation structure associated with "want". (The synsem properties of the experiencer argument of "want", in an Equi-type coinstantiation pattern, unify with those of the subject of "stay".)

The phenomena we are considering in this lecture are in fact to be accounted for in terms of the famliliar co-instantiation construction, but we will be giving special attention to phrasal categories (Adjectival, Nominal, Prepositional) which cannot directly instantiate their subject constituent: these are the categories which depend on a governing verb to coinstantiate their subject arguments.

Such examples can be seen in sentences (3) and (4). Adjectives like "angry" in (3) and "unhappy" in (4) cannot have their subjects directly instantiated: they always need the help of a co-instantiating verb. The verb serving that function is "seem" in the case of (3), "be" in the case of (4).

The simple cases of secondary predication involving phrase types whose subjects are (in English) always dependent on verbs for the instantiation of their subjects, are the kinds we have just seen with copular or quasi-copular verbs. The following display shows different verbs making provisions for the subject of "angry".

[2] Verbs Hosting "Angry"

  1. Joe is angry.
  2. Joe seems angry.
  3. Joe appears angry.
  4. Joe keeps angry.
  5. Joe looks angry.
  6. Joe sounds angry.
  7. Joe became angry.
  8. Joe remained angry.
For these sentences the core semantic predication is that of Joe being angry. Some of the sentences in this set add, to that simple predication relation, information about the time of Joe's state of anger, relative to the time of speaking ("is" rather than "was" or "will be"), qualifications on the evidence on the basis of which Joe's angry state is posed ("appears", "looks", "seems"), or some temporal aspect of Joe's being in an angry state with respect to a state of not being angry before or after that state ("became", "keeps", "remained"). In all of the cases in [2], the secondary predicate satisfies an obligatory requirement of the primary predicator's minimal valence.

In other cases, however, the secondary predicate appears to be an optional addition to the valence of the host predicator, adding new information about one of its arguments. Consider these sentences

[3] End-State Secondary Predicates

  1. The cup arrived broken.
  2. The soldiers reached the camp exhausted.
  3. The boy delivered the package wet.
  4. Sue finished the project a complete wreck.
  5. Pat returned my bicycle as good as new.
Here the secondary predicates inform us of the state the cup was in when it arrived, the state the campers were in when they reached the camp, and so on. All of the verbs in [3] have meanings which can stand alone, which are not dedicated to hosting secondary predicates. They accept secondary predicates, but they do not require them.

The transitive sentences in group [3] have similar superficial structures, but their coinstantiation patterns differ. In particular, in (2) and (4), with "reach" and "finish", it is the soldiers and Sue who ended up "exhausted" or "a complete wreck", not the camp or the project; and in (5) it is the package and the bicycle which ended up "wet" or "as good as new", not the boy or Pat. The arguments controlling the subject of the secondary predicate are the agent in sentences (2) and (4), the theme in (1), (3) and (5). There is a tradition according to which (ignoring passives) these are named subject-complements and object-complements.

One facet of the description of secondary predicates has to do with the thematic nature of the controller; another part is the semantic fit of the predicate into the conceptual structure of the host verb's semantic frame. In the examples of [3] we might say that the secondary predicate indicates the state something was in after some movement or process was finished.

Other temporal possibilities include beginning states (examples in [4]), sustained states (examples in [5]), and states while an action is going on (see [6]); still others are the state something is in as a result of the action (see [7]), the state that something is judged to be in (examples in [8]), and preferred states (see [9]).

[4] Beginning States

  1. I started this project quite enthusiastic.
  2. I entered a doubter.
  3. We began friends.

[5] Sustained States

  1. We kept quiet.
  2. We kept them busy.
  3. They stayed angry.

It can be noticed that the verbs in [5] all have the secondary predicate as part of their minimal valence.

[6] States During Use or Manipulation

  1. You need to pick tomatoes green.
  2. I only eat carrots raw.
  3. She sells them new.

These examples can all be paraphrased as something like "when x" or "when it is/they are x" or the like. (You need to pick tomatoes when they are green.)

[7] Resulting States

  1. He wriggled loose.
  2. We squirmed free.

  3. They shot him dead.
  4. She painted the cabin red.
  5. I pounded the metal flat.

  6. I shouted myself hoarse.
  7. She ran herself ragged.

  8. She ate herself sick.
  9. He drank himself silly.

Examples (1) and (2) in set [7] are among the few examples of pure intransitive verbs which can take resultative complements. Examples (6) and (7) show what often happens with intransitive verbs: a special construction is provided which uses a reflexive pseudo-object; these verbs cannot be used without the secondary predicate; examples (8) and (9) show intransitively used transitive verbs (i.e., in our terms, these are transitive verbs with INI-interpreted objects). The sentences with the secondary predicate omitted would have absurd meanings.

Many of the properties of resultative constructions are treated in the Goldberg book we examined last semester.

[8] Judged States

  1. They found my argument unconvincing.
  2. I consider you a fool.
  3. She judged me an unacceptable suitor.

These sentences can be paraphrased with a "to be x" phrase: they found my argument to be unconvincing.

[9] Preferred States

  1. I prefer coffee hot.
  2. I prefer canteloupe slightly salted.
  3. I like my steaks thick.
  4. I want him dead.

These sentences, too, permit paraphrase with "to be x". In this respect verbs of preference are different from verbs of use or consumptions. I like coffee (to be) hot, but I drank the coffee *(to be) hot.

A question we need to consider is how to explain certain usage differences with the same verb, as with sentences (1) and(2) in set [10].

[10] Different Valences of "Find"

  1. I found the man dead.
  2. I find your proposal unacceptable.
  3. I saw her naked.
  4. I consider you stupid.
We can say that in sentence (1), the secondary predicate is providing additional information in connection with a verb which is essentially a two- place predicate. The paraphrase for (1) would be something like 'I found the man and he was dead at that time'. For (2) the secondary predicate is a part of the minimal valence of this meaning of find: in particular, it is the 'content' of the mental state being reported in that sentence. This time the paraphrase could be 'I found your proposal to be inadequate.'

Parallel structures, using different verbs, are seen in sentences (3) and (4) of [10].

Some secondary predicates are introduced by a marker as and are headed by either an adjective or a noun. Compare the three examples in [11], illustrating three distinct valence types accepting as-complements. All three sentences are near-paraphrases of 'I consider Joe quite hostile/an enemy' but they require the marker.

With strike it is the subject of the (non- passivizable) which controls the secondary predicate; with regard it is the internal argument (object of active, subject of passive); and with look upon the controller is the object of the null preposition upon (or the subject of the corresponding prepositional passive.)

[11] Secondary Predicates with Marker "As"

  1. Joe strikes me as quite hostile.
  2. I regard Joe as quite hostile.
  3. I look upon Joe as quite hostile.
It has often been noticed that, in general, the constituents that can appear as secondary predicates are constituents that can be the complements of the copular verb be. (Those with the marker as are exceptions to this generalization.) That being so, we find that they can be of many word categories: adjectival, prepositional, nominal, or verbal. The prepositional complements can be locative ("in the kitchen") or adjectivally interpreted prepositional phrase idioms ("out of one's mind").

[12] BE-Comps as Secondary Predicates

  1. I consider the girls [ready to start training].
    The girls are ready to start training.
  2. They left the money [on the kitchen table].
    The money is on the kitchen table.
  3. I find your suggestion [out of order].
    Your suggestion is out of order.
  4. That decision made Fred [a pauper].
    Fred is a pauper.
  5. The guard saw you [climbing onto the roof]
    You were climbing onto the root.
But not all secondary predicates are of this type. There is, for example, an important type of secondary predicate in English, which cannot independently occur with "be" and which has various interesting semantic properties. These are expressions headed by the word "with" or its negative variant "without" which have meanings and valences identical to meanings associated with a stative use of the verb "have". (Recall our discussion earlier of the conditions under which "have" could be extended with the word "got": there, too, it was only stative uses that were selected.)

One of the most interesting of these is the type in which a secondary predicate headed by "with"or "without" contains another secondary predication. The syntactic oddity of these phrases with "with" and "without" is that the word does not function as an ordinary preposition at all. Its use is parallel to a use of its verbal partner, where it takes two complements, one nominal and one predicative, the former coinstantiating the subject requirement of the latter. Notice the examples in [14].

[13] Double Secondary Predicates withWITH.

  1. She just stood there with her hands on her hips.
    She had her hands on her hips.
  2. He came toward me withhis uniform unbuttoned.
    He had his uniform unbuttoned.
  3. He showed up in class withouthis homework finished.
    He did not have his homework finished.
The secondary predicate hosted by have/with is of the usual type, hence paraphrasable with the verb be:

[14] BE paraphrases for [13].

  1. Her hands were on her hips.
  2. His uniform was unbuttoned.
  3. His homework was not finished.

The secondary predicates we have introduced in this chapter may belong to any of the major syntactic categories: V, N, A or P. We observe now that the Coinstantiation construction has wider applicabilty than earlier noted, applying to all four syntactic varieties of secondary predicate, not only to VP complements.

The valence sets assigned to individual lexical items will specify just which syntactic categories, and sub- categories (e.g., [vif ing] , etc.), are called for in each case. For example:

The verb "become" can take adjective phrases ("became angry"), adjectivally interpreted prepositional phrases ("became out of sorts"), and nominal ("became our friend"), but not locative prepositional phrases ("*became in the kitchen").

The verb "turn" can take only adjective phrases ("turned sour", "turned warm", but not "*turned our enemy", "*turned in the kitchen").

The object-controlling transitive verb "make" can take unmarked verb-phrases, adjective phrases, nominal phrases, but not locative prepositional phrases ("made me do it", "made us angry", "made us paupers", but "*made them in the kitchen"). (Obviously there's nothing wrong with the word- string "made them in the kitchen", but in that case the preposition phrase is a locative adjunct rather than a secondary predicate. The 'subject' of the PP in that case is the whole predication, not one of its arguments.

The transitive verb "leave" allows secondary predicates which are marked infinitive VPs, participle phrases of both types, adjective phrases, locatively interpreted prepositional phrases, and indefinite noun phrases ("left me to do it", "left me sitting on the floor", "left him dead", "left the dog alone", "left her purse in the car", "left me a pauper").

The verb "be" takes anything but an unmarked infinitive VP ("is walking", "is alive", "is in the room", "is out of his mind", "is a fool", but not "*is walk in the park").

And so on. A full account would require us to consider the lexical variation in the valence structure of individual verbs (as illustrated by the examples above) and to become clear about the kinds of nominal and prepositional phrases that can serve as comp in such structures.

A revised Coinstantiation Construction (which does not need to specify [cat v] in the complement) will serve us well with verbs whose minimal valence contains reference to a gf comp; but we also need a means of showing how secondary predicates can be added to the valence sets of ordinary verbs. Among the generalizations we will need will be that verbs of consumption, preference, and affecting allow patient-controlled secondary predicates.

English contains a large number of idiomatic expressions with the internal form of preposition phrases but the external behavior of adjective phrases:

(i) He regards me as [ap [ppout of my mind/off my rocker]]

As-predications, discussed below, constitute one of environments in which this special adjectival behavior is observed. Another is illustrated in (ii), recalling, as we pointed out above, that "become" takes adjectival, but not prepositional-location, secondary predicates.

(ii) He became beside himself.