In the event of an event : a minimalist account of 'subjects'

Wharram, Douglas (1996) In the event of an event : a minimalist account of 'subjects'. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

This thesis investigates, within a minimalist framework (Chomsky (1993 et seq.)), some of the properties of "subjects". It is demonstrated that the term "subject" picks out whatever element occupies the highest argumental position within its clause at LF, following reconstruction effects. -- In Chapter One, several recent analyses of certain "non-finite" clauses in the ergative Inuktitut/West Greenlandic languages and Lezgian are examined. I conclude that, in each case, the clauses in question are finite. It is proposed that the conspicuous absence, or near-absence, of non-finite control structures in ergative languages derives from the fact that arguments licensed as PRO in such languages do not typically occupy a position where they can be controlled by an element in a higher clause. I consider one strategy made use of by the (ergative) Mayan language Jacaltec to make such clauses possible. -- In Chapter Two, standard assumptions with respect to a 'subject/object' extractability asymmetry are reconsidered, in light of data from English. It is shown that A'-extraction of 'subjects' of unaccusative or passive VPs is not as sensitive to intervening islands as is extraction of 'subjects' of transitive or unergative VPs. This follows, I demonstrate, from the requirement that both types of arguments raise overtly to an A'-position prior to extraction, attracted by an [event] feature of the C head, with the former type of argument necessarily raising via an intermediate A-position, while the latter type must raise directly. Second, two non-finite constructions — one in Italian and another in European Portuguese - are considered. The interaction of the proposed [event] feature of C⁰ with certain other features is shown to derive both fixed word-ordering restrictions and the unexpected availability of 'nominative' Case in these clauses in both languages. -- In Chapter Three, I offer a preliminary analysis which derives 'accusative' versus 'ergative' Case checking patterns in strict terms of Economy, depending on the strength of certain features. I show that no special condition, like the Obligatory Case Parameter (Bobaljik (1993)), need be introduced to derive the differences between the Case patterns of accusative and ergative languages.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/5567
Item ID: 5567
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 131-138.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Linguistics
Date: 1996
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Grammar, Comparative and general--Noun phrase; Minimalist theory (Linguistics)

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