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Edge-Based Clausal SyntaxA Study of (Mostly) English Object Structure$
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Paul M. Postal

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780262014816

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262014816.001.0001

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Visser’s Generalization

Visser’s Generalization

(p.297) 8 Visser’s Generalization
Edge-Based Clausal Syntax

Paul M. Postal

The MIT Press

Visser’s Generalization (VG) expresses a relation between control by an implicit subject and passivization in a main clause and argues that these two phenomena are incompatible. Standard illustrations of VG involve main clauses based on the verb promise, such as “Mike promised Sylvia to call Rachel.” VG-like patterns are found with constructions that are not passives and do not contain any by phrases. Hence, the “no by phrase complement controllers” principle is not only lethally too strong but also too weak to determine those aspects of English syntax linked to VG. This chapter examines the assumptions of VG, focusing on one aspect of VG that has nothing to do with control. It also discusses VG in relation to constraints on 3 object passivization, Perlmutter’s Generalization, quace-based constraints on pseudopassivization and Q constructions, and the absence of VG restrictions in promise nominalizations.

Keywords:   control, Visser’s Generalization, passivization, main clauses, passives, Perlmutter’s Generalization, quace-based constraints, pseudopassivization, Q constructions, nominalizations

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