LINGUIST List 13.1355

Wed May 15 2002

Review: Linguistic Theories: d'Hulst et al., ed. (2001)

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  1. Eva Monros Marin, D'Hulst et al. (2001) Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 1999

Message 1: D'Hulst et al. (2001) Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 1999

Date: Tue, 14 May 2002 12:47:21 +0000
From: Eva Monros Marin <emonrosfil.ub.es>
Subject: D'Hulst et al. (2001) Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 1999

 
D'Hulst, Yves, Johan Rooryck, and Jan Schroten, ed. (2001) 
Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 1999. 
Selected papers from 'Going Romance' 1999, Leiden, 9-11 December 1999.
John Benjamins Publishing Company, viii+406pp, hardback ISBN 1-58811-131-8, 
$86.00, Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 221 

		
Book Announcement on Linguist:
http://linguistlist.org/issues/13/13-215.html


Eva Monros, Universitat de Barcelona (Spain)


OVERVIEW

This volume compiles a selection of fifteen articles from the
thirteenth "Going Romance" conference, held at Leiden University in
December 1999. The papers focus on several topics from different
theoretical approaches, all concerned with recent proposals in syntax
and semantics. They share a comparative point of view within Romance
languages (Catalan, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish) and include
references to other linguistic families.

The book includes, among others, articles on Wh-Questions,
exclamatives, causatives, free relatives, unaccusatives and six papers
on negation, discussed in the conference workshop. The selection is
ordered alphabetically according to the authors' name and is preceded
by a short introduction. Each article finishes with its own
bibliography.

The main ideas of every paper are summarized below, starting with the
essays on negation. The rest of papers are roughly organized according
to their focus of attention. I finish this review with a general
overview of the volume.


"Negative concord and the distribution of Quantifiers" by Antonio
Branco and Berthold Crysmann

This is the first of the set of six papers about negation in Romance
languages. The authors deal with the negative value of N-words in
Portuguese ('nobody', 'nothing' etc.) and their interaction with other
negative items in an ambiguity-driven approach. Negative Concord is a
phenomenon at the semantics-syntax interface by which multiple
negative items co-occurring in a sentence express only one
negation. Empirical data show a constraint in linear precedence:
postverbal N-words can co-occur with negation, while preverbal ones
cannot. The authors argue that the contrast in distribution depends on
monotonicity properties. These "monotonicity properties" remain as a
rather obscure concept, unclearly explained in the article.


"On the multiple expression of negation in Romance" by Francis Corblin
and Lucia Tovena

Again, Negative Concord is in the focus of this paper: the multiple
expression problem arises when several negative lexical items trigger
only one clausal negation. In this proposal, Negative Concord results
from three different constraints about the expression of negation in
the verb-argument domain. First, it is shown that most natural
languages have lexical items marked unambiguously as negative;
argument variables falling under the scope of these negative elements
will be interpreted as negated. Second, there is a restriction
- not free of empirical problems -- on the recursivity of
negation within the clause. Finally, most Romance languages obey the
"Neg-first" principle, in other words, they place the negation (either
the negative marker or N-words) before the verb. The authors compare
"Neg-first" in Romanian, French and Italian.


"Negative Concord and the minimalist approach" by Gabriela Matos

Traditional and more recent approaches to negation do not adequately
deal with Negative Concord in all Romance languages. The author claims
that N-Words are intrinsic negative items, which do not cancel each
other, but form a single negative expression within a local domain by
Neg-absorption triggered at Logical Form. The phenomenon affects both
sentential and phrasal negation. Empirical data draw a distinction
between Portuguese, where N-Words are excluded from interrogative and
declarative contexts, and the negative marker is compulsory with
postverbal N-Words-, and Italian or Spanish, where N-Words do not
necessarily co-occur with a negative marker. In Section 2, Matos
rejects previous analysis, such as those based on the Neg-criterion or
checking theory. In Section 3, the minimalist account is proposed: in
order to be negated, a constituent must be under the local scope of a
negative item (e.g. a negative element with scope onto the verb will
result in a negative sentence). The paper concludes with some
interesting cross-linguistic remarks about the necessary/unallowed
co-occurrence of a negative marker with a pre/postverbal N-Word.


"French 'ne' in non-verbal contexts" by Paul Rowlett 

Commonly, the linguistic literature distinguishes between X head
negative markers (e.g. "ne" in French) and phrasal negative markers
(e.g. the French "pas"). A distributional generalization is claimed
for X negative items: namely, that they appear in verbal contexts
only. French has three apparent counterexamples to this
generalization, in other words, three constructions where "ne" seems
not to be in a verbal context. The author presents these cases and
analyzes them to conclude that they actually follow the general
rule. First, the "(ne) voila(-t-il) pas" case is solved
assuming that "voila", derived diachronically from a verbal
form, has retained some verbal features. The second and third cases
are, respectively, the "pour (ne) pas que + Subjunctive" construction,
and the double "ne" in non-finite context. Rowlett suggests that they
contain a non-overt modal, which means that the contexts in which "ne"
occurs are verbal; besides, it is necessary to assume the
Neg-raising process, where the negative marker belonging to an
embedded predicate is attracted to the matrix verb (i.e. the modal in
these cases).


"French negative sentences with 'avant'-phrases and
'jusqu'a'-phrases" by Svetlana Vogeleer

This paper is mainly descriptive. Its aim is to show that
"avant"-phrases ('before') and "jusqu'a"-phrases ('until') are
not semantically equivalent in negative sentences: the former are time
constituents associated to achievements, whereas the latter are
duration constituents associated to activities. The scope of the
negation is also different in both kinds of construction. On one hand,
a negative sentence with "avant" allows a minimal negation reading. On
the other, sentences with "jusqu'a", when negative, can only be
understood as radical negations.


"Decomposing the Neg-Criterion" by Akira Watanabe 

The author analyzes systematic differences between Italian and West
Flemish with respect to the Negative Concord. This analysis leads to
the conclusion that the Neg-Criterion (Haegeman, 1995) must be
decomposed into two parametrized conditions. On one hand, the +[Neg]
feature can be strong for Neg-heads and/or Neg-Operators. This
distinction determines whether double negation is possible or not. In
West Flemish, for example, where Neg-Operators do not have to undergo
checking (i.e. [+Neg] is weak in Neg-operators and strong in Neg)
double negation is allowed; this is not the case for Italian, where
[+Neg] is strong in Neg-Operators. On the other, Watanabe points out
that West Flemish must allow multiple Spec in Neg. The paper includes
some remarks on other languages, such as Piedmontese, Catalan,
Afrikaans, Spanish, etc.


"On the nature of Wh-Phrases: word order and Wh-in-situ: Evidence from
Portuguese, French, Hungarian and Tetum" by Manuela Ambar and Rita Veloso

This paper, the first in the volume, deals with the nature of
Wh-Interrogatives, their constituency and distribution. The main
hypothesis is built with data from Portuguese and French, and is
checked then with Hungarian and Tetum (East Timor). The authors
propose the existence of a Wh-Projection with strong N and V
features. Checking these features triggers raising of Wh-Phrase and V-
Inflection, and explains the inversion pattern usually found in
Wh-Questions. As for Wh-Questions without inversion and Wh-in-situ,
the authors assume the presence of the Assertive-Projection.


"Spanish exclamatives and the interpretation of the left periphery" by
Javier Gutierrez-Rexach

Beyond the apparent variety of patterns, Spanish root exclamatives
exhibit the following linearization of the features involved in the
left periphery (C Phase): [{Force-Evident} {Focus-Degree}
Topic]. Illocutionary force plays an important role in determining
surface forms. The author points out the characteristic properties of
five different root exclamatives: those headed by a verb ("vaya"), a
complementizer ("que"), an evidential adverb/adjective
("evidentemente", "seguro"), a determiner ("lo") and a Wh-word
("que"). These items -- merged or raised, depending on the
case, in ForceP -- trigger a scalar implicature (i.e. they express a
high degree of a given property).


"Free relatives as defective Wh-elements: Evidence from the
North-Western Italian dialects" by Nicola Munaro 

Certain Wh-items in North-Western Italian dialects (e.g. "kwe") are
cognate with the distal demonstrative ("kwelu"). Moreover, the Wh-item
"kwe" and the demonstrative "kwelo" never co-occur in the same
dialect, the demonstrative being often used as a Wh-word. These facts
suggest the hypothesis that these Wh-elements derive diachronically
from the demonstrative and are free relatives -with a peculiar
distribution in main and embedded interrogatives, such as in
restrictive relatives. A rich paper, with a great variety of examples,
and a balanced combination of explanation and dialectal description.


"Clause structure, subject positions and verb movement: About the
position of "sempre" in European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese"
by Ana Maria Brito

The author proposes her analysis of Portuguese -- both European and
Brazilian -- sentences with "sempre". She distinguishes "sempre" with
temporal/aspectual value ('always') and "sempre" as a confirmative
adverb ('indeed'). The main data in European Portuguese exhibit the
following contrast: the temporal/aspectual "sempre" can be placed pre-
or postverbally, whereas "sempre" as confirmative adverb is always
preverbal. Brito assumes that postverbal adverbs are projected as an
adjunct to VP, and that V raises to T and DP (subject) to Spec, TP. In
contrast, when "sempre" -- temporal/aspectual or confirmative --
appears preverbally, it is merged as an adjunct in TP, the verb moves
to T with a short movement, and DP raises to a position above this T
projection. The comparison of several hypotheses about word order
makes this paper very interesting. In conclusion, although both
varieties of Portuguese differ in essential syntactic aspects, the
analysis of Brazilian Portuguese can be the same given for European 
Portuguese.


"Unaccusative inversion in French" by Jean-Marie Marandin 

This is an interesting, clear and well exemplified work. French
exhibits three kinds of Subject NP inversion: stylistic inversion (in
extraction contexts), unaccusative inversion and elaborative inversion
(with heavy NPs). The main focus of the article is unaccusative
inversion, which occurs only with non-agentive intransitive verbs
-both in indicative or subjunctive-, triggers "en"- pronominalization
and does not allow the scrambling of the subject. "En"-
pronominalization suggests that the NP in unaccusative inversion
combines with the verb as an object, whereas agreement suggests it is
a subject. The author claims against an analysis with a preverbal
empty expletive, the explanation given in the Minimalist
Program. Alternatively, he proposes an analysis within the HPSG
(Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar) framework: in the unaccusative
pattern, the first argument of the verb is realized as an object and
the subject is not projected, a non canonical mapping of arguments
onto syntactic functions.


"Property denoting objects in idiomatic constructions" by M. Teresa Espinal 

The main focus of this paper is idiomatic constructions and their
interpretation. Idiomatic constructions must have a generic reading
because (1) object nouns always denote properties, and (2) idiomatic
constructions are always submitted to a predicate formation process by
means of incorporation. These claims follow from the analysis of
VPhrase and PPhrase idioms in Catalan and other Romance languages. The
main hypothesis is that idioms are predicates built at the lexical
level by abstract noun incorporation into the verb -- a head to head
movement --, where nouns are not seen as arguments, but as
properties. See the detailed description about the generic reading of
the object noun, the scope of quantifiers and adverbs, and the
temporal/aspectual variations on the verb in idioms.


"On the relation of priority between causative and inchoative
constructions" by Raffaella Folli

This paper presents an analysis of the causative/inchoative
alternation within Italian verbs of change of state. The main purpose
is to define the relation of priority between both uses of the same
verb, that is to say, to determine if the alternation is the result of
a process of transitivization or detransitivization. The author
classifies the Italian verbs of change of state that allow the
alternation into three groups according to the following criteria: (i)
whether they need the reflexive "si" in the intransitive form, and
(ii) whether they form middle voice with or without "si". The
resulting analysis claims that verbs like 'break' are basically
transitive (the inchoative variant eliminating the causer). Members of
the 'sink' class are considered primitively intransitive (the
causative form introducing the causer). Finally, items like 'melt'
present a more complicated alternation, allowing an intransitive form
with "si" and another without "si". Their basic form is the
intransitive without reflexive pronoun, and the others are obtained
via inchoativization and transitivization.


"Locative and locatum verbs revisited. Evidence from Romance" by Jaume Mateu 

The author revises Hale and Keyser's (1998) lexical relational
analysis of locative (e.g. "Ell engabia el seu ocell preferit",
'He (in)caged his favorite bird') and locatum verbs (e.g. "Ella
ensella el cavall", 'She (in)saddled the horse'). According to
Hale and Keyser (1998), locative and locatum verbs are derived via
incorporation of the noun (e.g. "gabia", 'cage'; "sella",
'saddle') into a prepositional head. The difference between both kinds
of verbs is the semantic value of the preposition: terminal
vs. central coincidence relation, respectively. Mateu assumes the
lexical decomposition analysis, but points out that locatum verbs can
also be instances of a terminal coincidence relation. Locative and
locatum verbs are both causative change of state predicates, and the
presence of the terminal coincidence relation determines their
aspectual properties.


"Temporal existential constructions in Romance" by Gemma Rigau 
 
The main claim of this article is to draw a distinction between
temporal presentational constructions and temporal circumstantial
constructions -impersonal sentences which situate an event in the past
(e.g. "il y a dix ans...", 'ten years ago...'). The analysis is based
on their syntactic and lexical properties, and exemplified with a rich
variety of Romance languages. Both kinds of temporal existential
constructions are integrated by a light verb hosted by an abstract
central coincidence preposition, a clitic ("y") occupying the Spec
position and the temporal measure ("dix ans") as the
complement. According to Rigau, temporal circumstantial constructions
always appear in adjunct position, as modifiers of the main predicate
(e.g. "votre frere, il y a quelques annees, est venu
chez moi", 'several years ago your brother came over'). In contrast,
temporal presentational constructions are autonomous elements
(e.g. "il y a longtemps de tout cela", 'all that was a long time ago'). 
The article comments on other differences, distributional, aspectual, 
and so on.


GENERAL DISCUSSION 

>From the six papers on negation, we can see that Negative Concord in
Romance is a current topic of analysis and discussion. The
Neg-Criterion is one of its most controversial aspects. Some of the
points to have into account in this respect are: the negative value of
N-Words and negative markers, their distribution in the sentence, the
scope of negation, the possibility of double negation, among
others. To summarize, negation is accounted under semantic approaches
and minimalist syntax. As we have seen, the volume includes three
papers on Wh-Words, more precisely on interrogatives, exclamatives and
relatives. We can say that the features contained by Wh-Words in
several languages determine not only the order of constituents within
the clause, but also the internal structure of the left periphery of a
sentence. In all papers, including those dealing with particular
phenomena in a particular language, empirical data are the ground for
the theoretical proposals. We find everywhere fine approaches to
the different topics and, moreover, a review of the most relevant
proposals. In general, explanation and description are well balanced
and the comparison among languages is rich enough to reach adequate
conclusions.

REFERENCES 

Haegeman, L. (1995). "The Syntax of Negation". Cambridge: CUP. 

Hale, K. & S. J. Keyser (1998). "The basic elements of argument
structure". MIT Working Papers in Linguistics 32.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER

Eva Monros has a degree in Catalan Language and Literature (1997) and
another in Linguistics (2000). She is in her second year of
postgraduate studies and works as a researcher at the Department of
Linguistics of the Universitat de Barcelona, under a grant for
researcher formation. Her PhD project focuses on typological syntax,
more precisely on ergativity. She intends to give a minimalist
approach to this phenomenon in Amazonian languages.
 
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