Is Category P Lexical or Functional?: A Generalized pP-Shell Approach

  • Hong, Sung-Shim (Department of English Language and Literature, Chungnam National University) ;
  • Yang, Xiaodong (Department of English Language and Literature, Chungnam National University)
  • Received : 2010.11.03
  • Accepted : 2010.11.24
  • Published : 2010.12.31


The aim of this paper is to propose that a category P is encapsulated within a functional layer above the lexical layer, just like vP containing a lexical VP. As is well known, the category P has long been in the obscure domain of syntactic studies: Marantz (2001) and den Dikken (2003), for example, argue that P is a lexical category, but Emonds (1985), Grimshaw (1991), and Baker (2003), maintain that the category P is functional and is a closed category without its own intrinsic meaning. On the other hand, Zwart (2005) argues that it does have some meaning. Following the works of Svenonius (2003, 2006, 2007), and the spirit of Rizzi's (1997) split CP hypothesis, we elaborate and develop Svenonius' idea of split-pP analysis with detailed schematic representations of the novel examples in English, Korean, and Chinese in this paper. Unlike Svenonius, however, this paper incorporates KP into pP-Shell, which is a substantial simplification. Furthermore, Chinese Localizers that have long been considered as Postpositions are now under the category of Prepositions. This proposal renders an X-bar theoretic consistency over the categorical status of Chinese phrasal structures. In short, the present analysis accounts for inconsistency found in English complex preposition phrase (Quirk, et al, 1972, 1985), Chinese circumposition phrase (Ernst 1988, Liu, 2002) and Korean postposition phrase in a unified and consistent manner. Furthermore, by proposing a finer-grained phrasal architecture for the category P, the controversial status of the category subsides within this analysis.