Subject Restriction

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Subject Restriction is a constraint proposed in Selkirk (1982) which says that the subject argument of a lexical item may not be satisfied in compound structure. This constraint is meant to account for the observation that the subject (or external argument) of a verb cannot function as the non-head in a synthetic compound.


Next to the sentence the girl swims we do not find the synthetic compound *girl-swimming.



  • 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.
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