LINGUIST List 14.1397

Thu May 15 2003

Diss: Historical Ling/Syntax: Wood "Definiteness..."

Editor for this issue: Steve Moran <stevelinguistlist.org>


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  1. joh.wood, Definiteness and Number: Determiner Phrase...

Message 1: Definiteness and Number: Determiner Phrase...

Date: Tue, 13 May 2003 18:43:54 +0000
From: joh.wood <joh.woodasu.edu>
Subject: Definiteness and Number: Determiner Phrase...


Institution: Arizona State University
Program: Department of English
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2003

Author: Johanna L. Wood 

Dissertation Title: Definiteness and Number: Determiner Phrase and
Number Phrase in the History of English

Linguistic Field: Text/Corpus Linguistics 
 Syntax
 Historical Linguistics
 
Subject Language: English (code: ENG)

Subject Language Family: Germanic (code: IEF)

Dissertation Director 1: Elly van Gelderen
Dissertation Director 2: Karen L. Adams
Dissertation Director 3: Dhira Mahoney

Dissertation Abstract: 

The structure of the Old English nominal is examined with respect to
two functional categories, Determiner Phrase (DP), and Number Phrase
(NumP), in comparison with the structure of the present-day English
nominal. The focus is on word order and morphology in Old English and
the syntactic changes that have occurred in the history of English. It
is proposed that Old English has a DP although it lacks a dedicated
definite article. The demonstrative is assumed to be a DP specifier,
and the development of the article from the distal demonstrative is a
change from a specifier to a head within the DP. Old English does not
have an indefinite article and the development of a new functional
head, the indefinite article, from the adjectival numeral 'one,' is
the overt evidence of a new functional category, NumP.

In the higher area of the nominal, where definiteness is checked, word
order and morphology in Old English, including strong and weak
adjectival inflection and N-to-D movement of proper names, provide
further evidence for DP. Three different word orders between Old
English and present-day English involving possessives and
demonstratives are identified and accounted for. The co-occurrence of
demonstratives and possessive determiners in earlier Old English is
argued to occur because possessives are not definite as they are in
present-day English.

In the lower area of the nominal, where number is checked, it is
assumed that NumP in present-day English is the position of the
indefinite article and weak determiners. It is argued that
quantification is not a categorical feature and that NumP has
cardinality, not quantification as its defining feature. Spec-NumP is
the position of fronted pre-modifiers in present-day English.
Evidence that Old English does not have a NumP is that it does not
have fronted pre-modifiers or compound pronouns, both of which arise
in the 13th century. The count noun /non-count noun distinction in
Old English and the morphology and syntax of the numeral system
provide further support. It is concluded that the functional structure
of the Old English nominal includes a Determiner Phrase but no Number
Phrase.
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