First Order Projection Condition

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First Order Projection Condition is a condition proposed in Selkirk (1982) which says that

All non-SUBJ arguments of a lexical category Xi must be satisfied
within the first order projection of Xi (where the first order
projection of a category Xi is the category that immediately dominates
it, whether in word structure or in syntactic structure).

The FOPC is Selkirk's (1982) counterpart of Roeper & Siegel's (1978) First Sister Principle (FSP). The FOPC as well as the FSP are intended to account for (i) the relationship between he drives a truck, truck driver, and driver of trucks, (ii) the difference in well-formedness between the compounds truck driver, on the one hand, and *quick driver (next to drive a truck quickly), and *child driver (next to a child drives a truck) on the other. The FOPC and the FSP are not equivalent. The difference has to do with the data in (i)-(iii):

(i)	  eater of pasta in trees
(ii)	* tree eater of pasta
(iii)	* pasta eater in trees

The FOPC accounts for the ungrammaticality of both (ii) and (iii), since one of the non-SUBJ arguments of eat is not realized within its first order projection (= tree eater in (ii) and pasta eater in (iii)). The FSP has no explanation for the ungrammaticality of (iii).


Utrecht Lexicon of Linguistics


  • Roeper, T. and D. Siegel 1978. A Lexical Transformation for Verbal Compounds, Linguistic Inquiry 9, pp. 199-260
  • Selkirk, E. O. 1982a. The Syntax of Words, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Spencer, A. 1991. Morphological Theory, Blackwell, Oxford.