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LINGUIST List 16.2097

Wed Jul 06 2005

Diss: Syntax: Lee-schoenfeld: 'Beyond Coherence ...'

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        1.    Vera Lee-Schoenfeld, Beyond Coherence: The Syntax of Opacity in German


Message 1: Beyond Coherence: The Syntax of Opacity in German
Date: 06-Jul-2005
From: Vera Lee-Schoenfeld <vlsucsc.edu>
Subject: Beyond Coherence: The Syntax of Opacity in German


Institution: University of California, Santa Cruz
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2005

Author: Vera E. Lee-schoenfeld

Dissertation Title: Beyond Coherence: The Syntax of Opacity in German

Dissertation URL: http://people.ucsc.edu/~vls/index.html

Linguistic Field(s): Syntax

Subject Language(s): German, Standard (GER)
Language Family(ies): Germanic

Dissertation Director:
Judith Aissen
Sandra Chung
Jorge Hankamer
James McCloskey

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation deals with one of the central concerns of syntactic
theory since Ross 1967: How local is syntax and what are the measures of
syntactic locality? On an empirical level, it presents the results of
three independent strands of research on German: (i) the study of reduced
infinitive constructions, in particular, Bech's (1955/57) classic work on
COHERENCE versus NON-COHERENCE in German, (ii) the POSSESSOR DATIVE
CONSTRUCTION (PDC), with a dative nominal playing the role of both
possessor and affectee, and (iii) BINDING, the conditions under which
reflexive and non-reflexive pronouns may occur.

Both the PDC and binding are phenomena involving relations between two
structural positions, and both are sensitive to the internal complexity of
intervening material. Exploiting this sensitivity, I propose that
possessor datives and binding can serve as probes for infinitival clause
size. Building on Wurmbrand 2001, I provide new evidence for a distinction
between infinitival complements that is more fine-grained than, and thus
goes beyond, the traditionally assumed binary distinction between coherence
and non-coherence.

These results provide the foundation for addressing two larger theoretical
issues: the typology of clause size and what makes a given phrase-type
transparent (constructed coherently) or opaque (constructed non-coherently)
to grammatical interactions with elements beyond its boundaries.

Examining various clausal and sub-clausal phrase-types, in particular
ACCUSATIVUS CUM INFINITIVO (AcI)-constructions, in connection with the PDC
and binding, I ultimately propose Chomsky's (2000, 2001) notion of PHASE as
the single determinant of locality which unifies all three of the syntactic
phenomena at issue here. Just as Chomsky's (1973) SPECIFIED SUBJECT
CONDITION (SSC) constrained both movement configurations and coreference
possibilities, in the system I develop, phases impose the crucial locality
restriction on both PD-raising and binding. However, while the
opacity-inducing presence of an intervening specified subject does play an
important role in my accounts of the PDC and binding, I argue that
appealing to phasehood covers more ground. It captures the opacity effects
triggered not only by verbal and nominal (vP and DP) domains but also by
clausal and prepositional (CP and PP) domains.





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