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IntroLFG1 - University of Essex
Introduction to LFG
Kersti Börjars & Nigel Vincent
{k.borjars, n.vincent}@man.ac.uk
University of Manchester
Winter school in LFG
July 4-8 2004
University of Canterbury
Christchurch, New Zealand
Part 1
Basic building blocks and c-structure to f-structure mapping
Kersti Börjars
In order to make sense of this, you will need to run the presentation, it
relies on animations and a printed version will not be very clear.
Feel free to use it if you find it helpful, but please give source.
Types of information about linguistic units
(1)
The dog ate the rats.
• Syntactic structure, c-structure
the dog forms a constituent in (1)
• Functional information, f-structure
the dog is the subject in (1)
(1) is in past tense
• Argument structure, a-structure
eat takes two arguments
• Information structure
• Phonetic structure
• …
Correspondence between dimensions
(1) The dog ate the rats.
Function
subject
object
dog
rats
agent
theme
Semantic role
agent
theme
Semantic role
(2) The rats were eaten by the dog.
Function
subject
object
dog
rats
Non-one-to-one correspondence 
Parallel correspondence approach
a-structure
c-structure
mapping relations
f-structure
a-structure
Information relating to the thematic roles associated with a
predicate
(3) a. tickle < agent, patient>
b. like < experiencer, theme>
Arguments are represented as features.
Lexical Mapping Theory maps the arguments onto fstructure.
f-structure: attributes
A feature value matrix: an unordered set of feature-value pair
Types of attributes:
Functional features
Semantic feature
NUM
PERS
TENSE
…
PRED
SUBJ
OBJ
Grammatical relations ADJUNCT
COMP
…
f-structure:values
Types of values:
Atomic value
Value of the functional features: plu,
past, 3, fem
Semantic form
value of PRED
f-structure
value of grammatical relations
f-structures are reasonably invariant across languages
f-structure:examples
(4)
PRED
PERS
NUM

GEND
(5)
PRED


SUBJ



TENSE
' pro'  Semantic feature
3 
she
sg   Sw
Functional
features
hon
fem 

  Semantic feature
'smile SUBJ  '
PRED 'goal keeper' The goal keeper smiled.
NUM sg
  Grammatical relation
 Sw Målvakten log.


DEF +

past

  Functional feature
c-structure
Category labelled trees
Categories
Lexical
S, N, V, P, A, (Adv)
Functional
C, I, D
Cross linguistic variation
Both endocentric (headed) and exocentric (non-headed)
structures allowed
c-structure: functional categories
Functional categories are used when certain functional
features are associated with positional properties
Warlpiri:
(6) a. wita-jarra-rlu
ka-pala
wajili-pi-nyi
small-DUAL-ERG PRES-3DUSUBJ chase-NPAST
yalumpu kurdu-jarra-rlu maliki
that.ABS child-DUAL-ERG dog.ABS
b. All permutations possible as long as inflectional
bundle stays in second position
c.
IP
I’
I
ka-pala
c-structure: functional categories
English:
(7) a. The rats will eat the dog.
b. Will the rats eat the dog?
(8) a. The rats ate the dog.
b. *Ate the rats the dog?
Special status of auxiliary verbs:
(9)
IP
I’
NP
I
will
VP
c-structure: an interlude
Principle of Economy of Expression:
all phrase structure nodes are optional unless required by
independent principles
(completeness, coherence, semantic expressivity)
IP
(11)
(10) The rats ate the dog.
NP
The rats
I’
I
VP
VP
V
NP
ate
the dog
c-structure: “head to head movement”
Xn
C-structure heads are f-structure heads:
X

F’
Complements of functional categories

are f-structure co-heads:
XP


c-structure
Latin:
(10) a. Canis
rattos
devoravit.
dog.NOM rat.ACC.PL eat.PERF.3SG
b. all orders in possible under right information
structural conditions
Functional information on verb not associated with position, so
no argument for a functional category.
(11)
S
S
Etc.
NP NP
V
NP V
NP
Mapping between f-structure and c-structure
Position: Spec-IP
IP
NP
I’
The dog
VP
PRED
SUBJ

OBJ
TENSE
V
NP
ate
the rats
Position:
sister of
V
'eat SUBJ OBJ
PRED 'dog'
PRED 'rat'
past
'




Case: nominative

S
NP
NP
Case: accusative
V
rattos canis devoravit
S
NP NP
V
canis rattos devoravit
Mapping between f-structure and c-structure
(12)
IP f1
NP f2
I’ f3
SUBJ   
D f4

The

dog V f7

ate

D f9

the

=
OBJ  



VP  V

NP f8
N f10


rats
I'
SUBJ =
=


NP
I'  I

f6
VP 
N f5


(13) a. IP 
NP  D
=
=
VP
=
NP
OBJ=
N
=
Basic lexical entries
the (DEF) = +
 PERS = 3
 dog  PRED = 'dog'
 NUM  = sg

PRED = 'eat SUBJ  OBJ '
 ate 
 TENSE = past


 PRED = 'rat'
 rats 
 NUM  = pl


Mapping between f-structure and c-structure
(12)
IP f1
f1 SUBJ = f2
f1 = f3
NP f2
I’ f3
SUBJ   
D f4

The
 DEF   
PERS   3
 PRED   'dog'
 NUM  = sg

V f7
ate

f6 OBJ = f8 f7 PRED = ‘eat <SUBJ OBJ>’
OBJ  
D f9

the
 DEF   
PERS   3

f5 NUM = sg
NP f8

 PRED   'eat  SUBJ   OBJ  '
TENSE   past

f6 = f7
f2 = f4

dog
f5 PRED = ‘dog’


f4 PERS = 3
f3 = f6
VP f6
N f5




f4 DEF = +
f2 = f5
N f10

rats
PRED   'rat '
NUM  = pl
f8 = f9
f8 = f10
f7 TENSE = past
f9 DEF = +
f9 PERS = 3
f10 PRED = ‘rat’
f10 NUM = pl
Mapping between f-structure and c-structure

DEF 

 SUBJ 

PRED
'dog'



NUM
sg



f2 f4 f5

DEF 


 OBJ PRED 'rat' 

NUM pl 


f8 f9 f10

 PRED 'eat SUBJ OBJ '

TENSE past



f1 SUBJ = f2
f4 DEF = +

f1 = f3
f5 PRED = ‘dog’


f2 = f4
f5 NUM = sg

f2 = f5
f7 PRED = ‘eat <SUBJ OBJ>’


f3 = f6
f7 TENSE = past

f6 = f7
f9 DEF = +


f6 OBJ = f8
f10 PRED = ‘rat’

f =f
f10 NUM = pl

f f f f 8 9
1 3 6 7 f =f
9
10
Well-formedness conditions on f-structure
Completeness condition:

DEF 
  (i) all argument functions specified in the
SUBJ 
  value of the PRED feature must be
PRED
'dog'




NUM
sg

  present in the local f-structure, (ii) all


 arguments so specified must have a

DEF 

 PRED value.
 OBJ PRED 'rat' 



Coherence condition:
NUM pl 


 (i) all argument functions in an f  PRED 'eat SUBJ OBJ ' structure must be specified by their local


TENSE past
 PRED, (ii) all functions which have a

PRED value must be arguments of the
element which specifies them.
Functional uniqueness:
Any attribute has only one value
Well-formedness conditions on f-structure
(14) a. *Oscar tickled.
Incomplete
b. *Oscar tickled Sarah the dog’s tummy.
Incoherent
c. *The sky rained.
Incoherent
Well-formedness conditions on f-structure
(14) d. *Tickles her.
e. tickles  PRED = 'tickle SUBJ OBJ '
TENSE = npast
SUBJ NUM = sg


SUBJ PERS = 3

f. PRED ' tickle SUBJ OBJ
TENSE npast
 
PRED 'proi '

OBJ GEND fem 

... 

...


NUM sg
SUBJ 
PERS 3 













Coherent?
Yes
Complete?
No, cf (ii), no PRED
value for SUBJ
Well-formedness conditions on f-structure
(14) g. *They tickles her.
h. tickles  PRED = 'tickle SUBJ OBJ '
SUBJ NUM = sg
i. they NUM = pl
j.IP  NP
I'
SUBJ  

f.
PRED ' tickle SUBJ OBJ  Functional uniqueness
TENSE npast
 violated


PRED ' proi '  
SUBJ 


NUM
sg
&
pl

 

PRED ' pro j '
OBJ




NUM sg 



c-structure: back to Latin
(10) a. Canis
rattos
devoravit.
dog.NOM rat.ACC.PL eat.PERF.3SG
b. all orders in possible under right information
structural conditions
(11)
S
S
Etc.
NP NP
V
NP V
NP
Morphology builds f-structure:
(15) a.
b.

CASE  = nom  SUBJ  = 
CASE  = acc  OBJ = 
c-structure: back to Latin
S
(16)
NP
SUBJ  
canis

PRED  'dog'
CASE = nom

(15) a.
b.

NP
V
rattos
devoravit
OBJ  
PRED  'rat'
CASE = acc
CASE  = nom  SUBJ  = 
CASE  = acc  OBJ = 
More on functions
Grammatical relations
Semantic feature
Functional features
SUBJ
OBJ
ADJUNCT
COMP
…
PRED
NUM
PERS
TENSE
…
More on functions
Non-argument
TOP
FOC
Discourse function
SUBJ
Core
OBJ
OBJ
Argument
Noncore
Non-argument
OBL
COMP
ADJUNCT
Non-discourse
function
Discourse functions
(17) a. Beans, I like.
b. CP 
NP
FOCUS=
 DF 
 FOCUS
GF
OBJ



c. PRED
FOCUS
 SUBJ

OBJ
FOCUS
C'
=
'like SUBJ OBJ
PRED 'beans'
PRED 'proi '
In Spec-CP
Functional uncertainty
'




Incomplete?
Complete
COMP function
(18) a. Oscar claimed that he liked LFG.
b. claim PRED = 'claim SUBJ  COMP  '
c. VP  V
=

VP
V


claimed

CP
COMP  
that he liked LFG
CP
COMP=
PRED
SUBJ


COMP



TENSE
'claim SUBJ OBJ '
PRED 'Oscar'
PRED 'like SUBJ OBJ

SUBJ PRED ' pro '
OBJ PRED ' LFG'

past





'






OBJ and OBL  functions
Both OBJ and OBL are argument functions which
can occur in the PRED feature of a verb.
In English, an OBL is always a PP, whereas an OBJ is
an NP.
A function subscripted with a  is restricted to a certain
thematic role.
(19) a. Oscar gave Sarah a book.
b. Oscar gave a book to Sarah.
In (19a), a book is OBJ restricted to the role of theme,
hence it is an OBJTHEME.
The PP to Sarah in (19b), is restricted to having a
recipient role, hence it is an OBLRECIP.
OBJ function
(19)
The teacher bought Sarah a book.
Sarah is OBJ
a book is OBJ
• Provide the lexical entry for bought and the other words;
• Provide the phrase structure rule that is required (remember
that it does not have to be binary branching);
• Add annotations to the phrase structure rule;
• Draw the tree using the new rule and the ones we have used in
the class;
• Add numbered f-structure variables to each node (f1, f2, etc);
• Write down the equations and solve them to give you the
correct f-structure.
Reading
The main reading for this part comes from:
Falk, Yehuda 2001. Lexical-Functional Grammar. An
introduction to parallel constraint-based syntax. Stanford,
Ca: CSLI Publications.
Chapters 1-3
If you want to have some additional reading, try:
Bresnan, Joan (2001) Lexical Functional Syntax. Oxford:
Blackwell. Chapters 1-4
Dalrymple, Mary (2001) Lexical Functional Grammar.
[Syntax and Semantics 34]. New York: Academic Press.
Chapters 1-5.
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