The syntax and interpretation of non-canonical argument positions

1998 1998

Other formats: Order a copy

Abstract (summary)

In this work I investigate the syntax of determinerless (D$\rm\sb\phi)$ subjects and the interpretations associated with them. The main focus is on explaining the contrast in syntactic behavior and interpretation between languages of the Catalan type and languages of the English (and Germanic) type. Ultimately, the system proposed will account for the general crosslinguistic variability in the interpretation and syntax of these elements.

I develop a system that derives their interpretive properties from a particular combination of (independent) syntactic properties. More concretely, I derive the (exclusively) existential interpretation of D$\rm\sb\phi$ subjects in Catalan, from the syntactic configuration that results from (long) V-movement and the use of Merge (instead of Move) to fill the Spec of the head where V moves. The different crosslinguistic patterns result from the combination of the V-movement properties in any given language and the use of Merge/Move to fill the (relevant) Spec: English, for instance, has short V-movement and Move; some Germanic languages (e.g. Icelandic) have long V-movement and Move.

This work, thus, is part of a research program that investigates how syntax and semantics interact, in particular, how syntactic configurations limit the range of semantic interpretations crosslinguistically. As part of this approach, I will claim that the interpretation of (subject) arguments is not strictly tied to a particular position, but is dependent on the particular configuration in which the argument appears. In particular I will claim that what is crucial is its relative position with respect to the verb and the operators in the sentence. Thus, a single syntactic position may have different properties across languages depending on the particular configuration in which it appears (which in turn is determined by the specific syntactic properties of the language). Such configuration will, in turn, determine its interpretation in the interpretive component.

Indexing (details)

0290: Linguistics
Identifier / keyword
Language, literature and linguistics; noun phrases; verb movement
The syntax and interpretation of non-canonical argument positions
Benedicto, Elena Elvira
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 59/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780591758344, 0591758342
Borer, Hagit
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University location
United States -- Massachusetts
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
Access the complete full text

You can get the full text of this document if it is part of your institution's ProQuest subscription.

Try one of the following:

  • Connect to ProQuest through your library network and search for the document from there.
  • Request the document from your library.
  • Go to the ProQuest login page and enter a ProQuest or My Research username / password.