The Syntax of Idioms

  title={The Syntax of Idioms},
  author={William O'grady},
  journal={Natural Language \& Linguistic Theory},
  • W. O'grady
  • Published 1 May 1998
  • Linguistics
  • Natural Language & Linguistic Theory
This paper proposes that idioms are subject to the Continuity Constraint, a grammatical principle that defines their general architecture in terms of a chain of head-to-head relations. The Continuity Constraint accurately describes the organization of extant idioms, including non-constituent idioms, while at the same time correctly predicting that certain types of patterns are impossible. In addition, it sheds new light on the relevance of argument structure to idiom creation, uncovering… 

Ditransitive idioms in Hebrew

This paper is a study of 55 ditransitive idioms in Hebrew, to the best of our knowledge, the first of its kind. The examination of these idiomatic constructions reveals asymmetries in their

Idioms and Lexical Insertion

The focus of this chapter is on the internal structure of the XP predicate selected by T, and the properties of a class of idiomatic predicates in Palauan that have been noted in the descriptive literature but whose syntax has not yet been analyzed.

Ditransitive Asymmetries and a Theory of Idiom Formation

This article discusses three asymmetries in ditransitivesquantifier scope, nominalizations, and idiomsand argues that an asymmetric theory like that advocated by Marantz (1993) and Bruening (2001) is


Some recent work has argued that special interpretations like those found in phrasal idioms are subject to locality constraints. In particular, Marantz (1997) proposes that idiomatic interpretations

An Argument Structure Analysis of Adjectival Passive Participles

This paper reviews major previous lexical and syntactic approaches to adjectival passives and shows that they have digged out conflicting sets of data. Presuming that they reflect two dialects of

The Structure of Nominal Phrases in Classifier Languages: Evidence from Idioms ∗

It is common to hypothesize that in classifier languages the various functional heads (demonstrative, numeral, classifier) each head their own projection, so that the maximal projection of the

Verb meaning and the ‘ no agent idioms ’ effect ∗

The distribution of flexible idioms (partially fixed form–meaning correspondences above the word level, with at least one open argument slot) has proven to be a surprisingly rich source of hypotheses

Against the parallelism between the NP and the clause: Evidence from idioms

Abstract We argue that the counterpart of Marantz’s generalization does not hold in the nominal domain, because there are idioms in which the determiner and the noun receive an idiomatic meaning

Idiomatic Constructions in Italian: A Lexicon-Grammar approach

Analysis of Italian idioms with either ordinary or support verbs showed that idiomatic constructions which have always been considered ungrammatical are instead perfectly acceptable if contextualized and passive is not a "special case" when it concerns idioms.

Toward a Practical Dependency Grammar Theory of Discontinuities

The paper presents the major principles and concept s of a dependency grammar theory of discontinuities for English and German (and pres umably for many other languages as well). Discontinuities are



Raising and Transparency.

The phenomena that classic transformational syntax handled by means of 'raising' rules pose an interesting challenge to theories that do not posit movement or derivation from underlying structures.

Thematic structure in syntax

This important monograph summarizes, rethinks, and extends a decade of the author's work on therole assignments -- the ways in which the roles implied by verbs of a given type play out in terms of


It is argued that NE is an instance of the exclamative sentence type and that basic formal and semantic properties of NE follow from this categorization, and it is suggested that the relationship between NE and likeExclamatives can be represented in an INHERITANCE NETWORK.

Partial agreement and coordination

In some languages a subject consisting of a Conjunction Phrase agrees only partially with the verb. Aoun, Benmamoun, and Sportiche (1994) have presented an analysis for Arabic in which the conjuncts

Particles: On the Syntax of Verb-Particle, Triadic and Causative Constructions

The author investigates the distribution and placement of verbal particles, which are words that do not change their form through inflection and do not fit easily into the established system of parts

The syntactic phenomena of English

New to this edition are sections on appositive constructions, parasitic gaps, contrastive negation, and comparative conditional sentences, as well as expanded coverage of cleft sentences and free relatives.

On Double Objects in English and Dutch

The claim that the indirect object c-commands the direct object at D-structure in English and Dutch is defended and the consequences of this claim for the structure of the English VP are explored.

Semantic Interpretation in Generative Grammar

This book investigates a wide variety of semantic rules, stating them in considerable detail and extensively treating their consequences for the syntactic component of the grammar, and proposes radically new approaches to the so-called Crossover Principle, the control problem for complement subjects, parentheticals, and the interpretation of nonspecific noun phrases.

Idioms: Processing, Structure, and Interpretation

This book discusses the acquisition and processing of Idioms in Spoken Language Comprehension, as well as the recognition and Interpretation of Idiom Meanings and Allusional Content in English and Portuguese.

MME. Tussaud meets the binding theory

The principle of language that allows one to refer to a statue by using the name of the person the statue portrays (the ‘statue rule’) is generally taken to be a rule of pragmatics, well outside