LINGUIST List 14.2083

Wed Aug 6 2003

Diss: Syntax/Semantics: Paesani: 'The Semantics...'

Editor for this issue: Naomi Fox <>


  1. k.paesani, The Semantics and Syntax of ...

Message 1: The Semantics and Syntax of ...

Date: Tue, 05 Aug 2003 11:03:18 +0000
From: k.paesani <>
Subject: The Semantics and Syntax of ...

Institution: Indiana University
Program: Department of French and Italian
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2001

Author: Kate Paesani 

Dissertation Title: The Semantics and Syntax of the pass� surcompos�
in Modern French

Linguistic Field: 	Syntax

Subject Language:	French (code: FRN )

Dissertation Director 1: Barbara S Vance
Dissertation Director 2: Laurent Dekydtspotter

Dissertation Abstract: 

This dissertation provides a characterization of the meaning and
grammar of the French pass� surcompos� (psc) articulated within the
context of generative grammar and Discourse Representation Theory.
The psc is a double compound past form expressing perfect aspect
(i.e. Jean a eu mang� une pomme 'Jean had eaten an apple'). After
presenting a critical review of previous literature on the psc, I
illustrate the compositional nature of the psc sentence through a
comprehensive examination of psc data. I show that the
temporal-aspectual value of the psc sentence is determined through the
interaction of grammatical aspect, lexical aspect and context. Next,
I outline the semantic framework used to explain the data before
providing a formal account of the semantics of the psc. I show that
the psc, often associated with numerous semantic values, expresses
perfect aspect in all syntactic environments. Furthermore, I show
that additional semantic nuances fall out as implicatures from the
semantics of the psc, the discourse context and conversational maxims.
I next consider the syntactic representation of the psc, couching my
discussion in terms of the Principles and Parameters and Minimalist
theories of grammar. I argue for a hierarchical structure in which
each of the three verbs forms is the head of a separate VP and is in
turn dominated by a functional category. This hierarchy yields the
structure [ TP [ VP [ Asp1P [ VP [ Aps2P [ VP ]]]]]]. The semantic
properties associated with the psc can be mapped directly onto this
structure. I further argue that this basic structure is sufficient to
account for the psc in all of its syntactic environments, showing in
particular that a complex array of facts concerning the choice of have
or be as auxiliary can be reduced to minor parametric variation of a
type already motivated for Romance in general.
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue