Year of publication
- Class features as probes (2008)
- In this article, we adress (i) the form and (ii) the function on inflection class features in minimalist grammar. The empirical evidence comes from noun inflection systems involving fusional markers in German, Greek, and Russian. As for (i), we argue (based on instances of transparadigmatic syncretism) that class features are not privative; rather, class information must be decomposed into more abstract, binary features. Concerning (ii), we propose that class features qualify as the very device that brings about fusional infection: They are uninterpretable in syntax and actas probes on stems, with matching inflection markers as goels, and thus trigger morphological Agree operations that merge stem and inflection marker before syntax is reached.
- Adjective Syntax and (the absence of) noun raising in the DP (2003)
- The paper is structured as follows. Section 2.1 introduces the basic classes of adjectives that constitute the factual core of the paper. Section 2.2 summarizes in greater detail the X° and the XP movement approaches to word order variation within the DP. Section 3 briefly discusses problems for both approaches. Sections 4.1, 5.1, and 5.2 draw from Alexiadou (2001) and contain a discussion of Greek DS and its relevance for a re-analysis of the word order variation in the Romance DP. Section 4.2 introduces refinements to Alexiadou & Wilder (1998) and Alexiadou (2001). Section 5.3. discusses certain issues that arise from the analysis of postnominal adjectives in Romance as involving raising of XPs. Section 6 discusses phenomena found in other languages, which at first sight seem similar to DS. However, I show that double definiteness in e.g. Hebrew, Scandinavian or other Balkan languages constitutes a different type of phenomenon from Greek DS, thus making a distinction between determiners that introduce CPs (Greek) and those that are merely morphological/agreement markers (Hebrew, Scandinavian, Albanian).
- Clitic-doubling and (non-)configurationality (2000)
- In this paper we investigate Greek, an optional clitic doubling language not subject to Kaynes generalization (Jaeggli 1982), and we argue that in this language, doubled DPs are in A-positions. We propose that Greek clitics are formal features that move, permitting DPs in argument positions. This leads to a typology according to which there are two types of clitic/agreement languages -configurational and nonconfigurational ones-, depending upon whether clitics are instantiations of formal features or not.
- Adjectival modification and multiple determiners (1998)
- The present paper deals with the distribution of the definite determiner and certain related aspects of adjectival modification in Greek DPs. As (1) shows, determiners in Greek DPs precede adjectives and adjectives precede nouns. All three categories overtly agree in gender, number and case.
- Verbs, nouns and affixation (2008)
- What explains the rich patterns of deverbal nominalization? Why do some nouns have argument structure, while others do not? We seek a solution in which properties of deverbal nouns are composed from properties of verbs, properties of nouns, and properties of the morphemes that relate them. The theory of each plus the theory of howthey combine, should give the explanation. In exploring this, we investigate properties of two theories of nominalization. In one, the verb-like properties of deverbal nouns result from verbal syntactic structure (a “structural model”). See, for example, van Hout & Roeper 1998, Fu, Roeper and Borer 1993, 2001, to appear, Alexiadou 2001, to appear). According to the structural hypothesis, some nouns contain VPs and/or verbal functional layers. In the other theory, the verbal properties of deverbal nouns result from the event structure and argument structure of the DPs that they head. By “event structure” we mean a representation of the elements and structure of a linguistic event, not a representation of the world. We refer to this view as the “event model”. According to the event model hypothesis, all derived nouns are represented with the same syntactic structure, the difference lying in argument structure – which in turn is critically related to event structure, in the way sketched in Grimshaw (1990), Siloni (1997) among others. In pursuing these lines of analysis, and at least to some extent disentangling their properties, we reach the conclusion that, with respect to a core set of phenomena, the two theories are remarkably similar – specifically, they achieve success with the same problems, and must resort to the same stipulations to address the remaining issues that we discuss (although the stipulations are couched in different forms).
- Instrument subjects are agents or causers (2006)
- It has often been noticed that one syntactic argument position can be realized by elements which seem to realize different thematic roles. This is notably the case with the external argument position of verbs of change of state which licenses volitional agents, instruments or natural forces/causers, showing the generality and abstractness of the external argument relation. (1) a. John broke the window (Agent) b. The hammer broke the window (Instrument) c. The storm broke the window (Causer) In order to capture this generality, Van Valin & Wilkins (1996) and Ramchand (2003) among others have proposed that the thematic role of the external argument position is in fact underspecified. The relevant notion is that of an effector (in Van Valin & Wilkins) or of an abstract causer/initiator (in Ramchand). In this paper we argue against a total underspecification of the external argument relation. While we agree that (1b) does not instantiate an instrument theta role in subject position, we argue that a complete underspecification of the external theta-position is not feasible, but that two types of external theta roles have to be distinguished, Agents and Causers. Our arguments are based on languages where Agents and Causers show morpho-syntactic independence (section 2.1) and the behavior of instrument subjects in English, Dutch, German and Greek (section 2.2 and 3). We show that instrument subjects are either Agent or Causer like. In section (4) we give an analysis how arguments realizing these thematic notions are introduced into syntax.
- Auxiliary selection and counterfactuality in the history of English and Germanic (2008)
- The retreat of BE as perfect auxiliary in the history of English is examined. Corpus data are presented showing that the initial advance of HAVE was most closely connected to a restriction against BE in past counterfactuals. Other factors which have been reported to favor the spread of HAVE are either dependent on the counterfactual effect, or significantly weaker in comparison. It is argued that the effect can be traced to the semantics of the BE perfect, which denoted resultativity rather than anteriority proper. Related data from other older Germanic and Romance languages are presented, and finally implications for existing theories of auxiliary selection stemming from the findings presented are discussed.
- Perfects, resultatives and auxiliaries in early English (2007)
- In this paper, we will argue for a novel analysis of the auxiliary alternation in Early English, its development and subsequent loss which has broader consequences for the way that auxiliary selection is looked at cross-linguistically. We will present evidence that the choice of auxiliaries accompanying past participles in Early English differed in several significant respects from that in the familiar modern European languages. Specifically, while the construction with have became a full-fledged perfect by some time in the ME period, that with be was actually a stative resultative, which it remained until it was lost. We will show that this accounts for some otherwise surprising restrictions on the distribution of BE in Early English and allows a better understanding of the spread of HAVE through late ME and EModE. Perhaps more importantly, the Early English facts also provide insight into the genesis of the kind of auxiliary selection found in German, Dutch and Italian. Our analysis of them furthermore suggests a promising strategy for explaining cross-linguistic variation in auxiliary selection in terms of variation in the syntactico-semantic structure of the perfect. In this introductory section, we will first provide some background on the historical situation we will be discussing, then we will lay out the main claims for which we will be arguing in the paper.
- Pieces of the be perfect in German and older English (2006)
- This paper examines the development of periphrastic constructions involving auxiliary "have" and "be" with a past participle in the history of English, on the basis of parsed electronic corpora. It is argued that the two constructions represented distinct syntactic and semantic structures: while the one with have developed into a true perfect in the course of Middle English, the one with be remained a stative resultative throughout its history. In this way, it is explained why the be construction was rarely or never used in a number of contexts, including past counterfactuals, iteratives, duratives, certain kinds of infinitives and various other utterance types that cannot be characterized as perfects of result. When the construction with have became a true perfect, it was used in such contexts, regardless of the identity of the main verb, leading to the appearance of have with verbs like come which had previously only taken be. Crucially, however, have was not spreading at the expense of be, as the be perfect had never been used in such contexts, but rather at the expense of the old simple past. At least until the end of the Early Modern English period, the shift in the relative frequency of have and be perfects is to be explained in terms of the expansion of the former into new contexts, while the latter remained stable. A formal analysis is proposed, taking as its starting point a comparison with German which shows that the older English be perfect indeed behaves more like the German stative passive than its haben and sein perfects.