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Linguistic Inquiry

Summer 2012, Vol. 43, No. 3, Pages 455-474
(doi: 10.1162/LING_a_00097)
© 2012 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
PPs without Disguises: Reply to Bruening
Article PDF (114.02 KB)
Abstract

Bresnan and Nikitina (2009) and Rappaport Hovav and Levin (2008) show that, contrary to standard assumptions, fixed-theme idioms may appear in to-constructions under certain pragmatic circumstances. Bruening (2010a) contends that the cases they present are in fact R(ightward)-dative shifts, double object constructions with the object projected to the right. In this article, we argue that Bruening’s proposed theoretical apparatus is unnecessarily complex and ad hoc and falls short of explaining the main facts it is supposed to deal with, massively overgenerating. A regular PP structure is argued to be empirically more adequate and conceptually simpler, avoiding the main problems of the R-dative shift analysis. New empirical evidence concerning pairlist readings and scope freezing also suggests that the empirical facts about idioms should be reconsidered in completely different terms.