LINGUIST List 13.3092

Mon Nov 25 2002

Diss: Syntax: Alba-Salas "Light Verb Constructions"

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  1. jalba, Syntax: Alba-Salas "Light Verb Constructions in Romance"

Message 1: Syntax: Alba-Salas "Light Verb Constructions in Romance"

Date: Sat, 23 Nov 2002 19:39:00 +0000
From: jalba <>
Subject: Syntax: Alba-Salas "Light Verb Constructions in Romance"

New Dissertation Abstract

Institution: Cornell University
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2002

Author: Josep Alba-Salas 

Dissertation Title: 
Light Verb Constructions in Romance: A Syntactic Analysis

Linguistic Field: Syntax, Semantics, Language Description
Subject Language: French, Italian, Catalan-valencian-balear, Spanish
Subject Language Family: Romance

Dissertation Director 1: Carol Rosen
Dissertation Director 2: Wayne Harbert
Dissertation Director 3: Yasuhiro Shirai

Dissertation Abstract: 

This dissertation provides an RG account of Light Verb Constructions
(LVCs) in Spanish, Italian, French and Catalan.

My analysis goes beyond the traditional semantic criteria and
identifies in configurational terms a 'natural class' of LVCs. The
class comprises six different configurations associated with Romance
LVCs: 1-Control, 'plain' serialization, serialization with 1-3
causative revaluation, Inversion, 3-Control, and auxiliation. My
configurational approach also captures the distinction between LVCs
and other constructions, including, heavy, causative and idiomatic

My account pays special attention to the lexical properties of the
light verb and the noun predicate that combines with it. To illuminate
the role played by the noun predicate, I introduce a typology of
Romance nominals, distinguishing between Verbal Nouns (VNs), which
designate actions or states and license an optional subject, and
non-VNs, which name objects or entities in the world and are uniformly
unaccusative. Building upon Grimshaw (1990), I claim that VNs can be
further subdivided into those that take optional arguments and those
that license an obligatory theme. To explain why in non-auxiliated
LVCs the VN is both a predicate and the P-initial 2 of the light verb,
following Dubinsky (1990), I claim that the VN bears both the P and 2
relations. Unlike Dubinsky, however, I argue that in serial LVCs in
Romance the VN must be P,2 multiattached in the initial, as opposed to
an intermediate, stratum. This follows from independently motivated
conditions on syntactic representations, which preclude P-2
revaluation of the VN in such structures.

My proposal also explains the Pan-Romance double analyse phenomenon,
why it occurs in LVCs and what lexical and syntactic conditions
necessarily exclude it.

Besides showing that light verbs fall in a continuum of semantic
defectiveness, my proposal supports the view that, contrary to
previous opinion, (i) a homophonous light verb (e.g. Pan-Romance FARE
'do') may have different syntactic valences, (ii) Romance VNs do not
uniformly share the same subcategorization frame as the
morphologically related verbs, and (iii) syntactic licensing is not
necessarily concomitant with semantic role assignment.
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