LINGUIST List 15.2218

Tue Aug 3 2004

Diss: Pragmatics: Mikkelsen: 'Specifying Who...'

Editor for this issue: Takako Matsui <takolinguistlist.org>


Directory

  1. mikkelse, Specifying Who: On the Structure, Meaning, and Use of Specificational Copular Clauses

Message 1: Specifying Who: On the Structure, Meaning, and Use of Specificational Copular Clauses

Date: Tue, 3 Aug 2004 16:07:20 -0400 (EDT)
From: mikkelse <mikkelsesocrates.berkeley.edu>
Subject: Specifying Who: On the Structure, Meaning, and Use of Specificational Copular Clauses

Institution: University of California, Santa Cruz
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2004

Author: Line Mikkelsen

Dissertation Title: Specifying Who: On the Structure, Meaning, and Use
of Specificational Copular Clauses

Dissertation URL:
http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~mikkelse/dissertation.html

Linguistic Field: Pragmatics, Semantics, Syntax 

Dissertation Director 1: Judith Aissen
Dissertation Director 2: Donka F. Farkas
Dissertation Director 3: William A. Ladusaw
Dissertation Director 4: James McCloskey

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation is concerned with a class of copular clauses known
as specificational clauses, and its relation to other kinds of copular
structures, predicational and equative clauses in particular. Based on
evidence from Danish and English, I argue that specificational clauses
involve the same core predication structure as predicational
clauses---one which combines a referential and a predicative
expression to form a minimal predicational unit---but differ in how
the predicational core is realized syntactically. Predicational
copular clauses represent the canonical realization, where the
referential expression is aligned with the most prominent syntactic
position, the subject position. Specificational clauses involve an
unusual alignment of the predicative expression with subject
position. Building on work by Prince (1992) and Birner (1996), I
suggest that this unusual alignment is grounded in information
structure, and, ultimately, principles of discourse coherence: the
alignment of the less referential DP with the subject position serves
a discourse connective function by letting material that is relatively
familiar in the discourse appear before material that is relatively
unfamiliar in the discourse. I develop an analysis of predicational
and specificational clauses that integrates these findings. The
central syntactic mechanism that governs the derivation of the two
kinds of clauses is the featural interaction between the two DPs and
T, the host of the subject position. Part of this interaction is
familiar from non-copular clauses, but characteristic properties of
copular clauses, in particular the semantic asymmetry between the two
nominals and the lightness of the copula verb itself, conspire to let
information structure play a decisive role in determining which of the
two DPs raises to subject position. The analysis provides a basis for
understanding the restrictions on the kinds of DPs that can occur as
subjects of specificational clauses; only DPs that can denote
properties and that allow the specificational clause to perform its
connective discourse function can occur in this position. It further
clarifies the relation between specificational and predicational
clauses, and effectively sets them both apart from equative clauses,
which are argued to be fundamentally different.
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue