LINGUIST List 14.699

Tue Mar 11 2003

Diss: Syntax: Sitaridou "The Synchrony..."

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  1. ioanna.sitaridou, Syntax/Historical Ling: Sitaridou "The Synchrony..."

Message 1: Syntax/Historical Ling: Sitaridou "The Synchrony..."

Date: Tue, 11 Mar 2003 06:19:47 +0000
From: ioanna.sitaridou <ioanna.sitaridouuni-hamburg.de>
Subject: Syntax/Historical Ling: Sitaridou "The Synchrony..."

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

Author: Ioanna Sitaridou 

Dissertation Title: 
The Synchrony and Diachrony of Romance Infinitives with Nominative
Subjects

Linguistic Field: Syntax, Historical Linguistics, Typology

Dissertation Director 1: Nigel Vincent

Dissertation Abstract: 

Infinitives are trivially considered to license PRO, a covert
null-Case pronoun, which represents the understood subject of an
infinitive complement. However, two Romance infinitive constructions
deviate from this canonical pattern and have their subject position
filled by a phonetically realised lexical noun (or pronoun), which has
nominative Case. In other words they license pro, which normally
represents the understood subject of a finite clause. It follows that
these infinitive constructions pose a problem for current theories of
Control.

The present thesis investigates inflected and personal infinitives in
Romance languages from a synchronic and diachronic perspective. The
main goal is to offer a unified treatment of inflected and personal
infinitives with regard to subject realisation, Case licensing, Tense
and non-obligatory control properties.

Synchronically, on an empirical level, the generalisation is that
infinitives with nominative subjects cannot surface as complements
unless they bear agreement or are introduced by a
complementiser. First, it is argued that agreement in not crucial to
the licensing of nominative Case because other non-finite
constructions, for example gerunds, license nominative subjects
despite its absence. However, the latter is shown to correlate with
postverbal subjects. Second, a minimal analysis of inflected and
personal infinitives is presented. It argues that both constructions
are similar in that Tense licenses nominative Case on the subjects but
vary with respect to the distribution: personal infinitives -unless
they are introduced by a complementiser- cannot surface as complements
whereas inflected inifnitives can. Third, the non-obligatory control
properties of inflected and personal infintives are argued to derive
from Agree not applying at C zero (cf. Landau 2000), thus blocking the
matching of features between the matrix and the infinitive subject,
i.e. a controlled interpretation.

Diachronically also, inflected and personal infinitives are intriguing
since they have no direct lineage from Latin. It is proposed that
there is no unique source and that inflected and personal infinitives
have distinct sources. First, it is argued that the Accusativus cum
Infinitivo construction cannot be proven to be the predecessor of
these constructions. Second, the Spanish personal infinitive is shown
to have two sources: for the personal infinitives as complements there
is a learned source which has ceased to be productive and for personal
infinitives as adjuncts a learnability-based account is put
forward. The latter, based on a theory of acquisition and change,
provides a model for the emergence of personal infinitives as adjuncts
in Old Castilian that is consistent with the synchronic analysis.
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