This book investigates the occurrence of discontinuous noun phrases, a word order phenomenon in German. De Kuthy explores the division of labor between the syntactic analysis, lexical constraints, and discourse constraints of this phenomenon. She argues that many of the factors that previous literature has tried to explain in terms of syntactic restrictions on movement are in fact derivable from discourse factors.
A prepositional phrase in German can occur separately from the noun phrase it modifies. Working within the framework of Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG) De Kuthy examines the syntactic analysis of the NP--PP split construction and provides an explicit theory that licenses reanalysis-like structures for this split. She goes on to identify lexical-semantic and discourse restrictions on the occurrence of discontinuous noun phrases. De Kuthy presents an account of the lexical-semantic effects, based on the Generative Lexicon, and integrates it with her HPSG analysis.
De Kuthy explores the possible focus-background structures of NP-PP split constructions. She shows that discourse restrictions can be deduced from information-structure requirements of the construction and she formalizes this insight by developing and integrating an information-structure component into her HPSG analysis. Interestingly, some of the restrictions on movement that have been traditionally viewed as being syntactic automatically fall out of this information-structure module.
This book ultimately provides an exemplary argument for rethinking the division of labor between syntax theory and a theory of discourse.