LINGUIST List 16.342

Thu Feb 03 2005

Diss: Syntax: Gutierrez-Bravo: ' Structural ...'

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        1.    Rodrigo Gutierrez-Bravo, Structural Markedness and Syntactic Structure: A Study of Word Order and the Left Periphery in Mexican Spanish



Message 1: Structural Markedness and Syntactic Structure: A Study of Word Order and the Left Periphery in Mexican Spanish

Date: 03-Feb-2005
From: Rodrigo Gutierrez-Bravo <rogubravoprodigy.net.mx>
Subject: Structural Markedness and Syntactic Structure: A Study of Word Order and the Left Periphery in Mexican Spanish


Institution: University of California, Santa Cruz
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2002

Author: Rodrigo Gutierrez-Bravo

Dissertation Title: Structural Markedness and Syntactic Structure: A Study of Word Order and the Left Periphery in Mexican Spanish

Linguistic Field(s): Syntax

Subject Language(s): Spanish (SPN)

Dissertation Director:
Judith Aissen
Donka Farkas
James McCloskey

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation investigates a number of word order phenomena attested in
Spanish in general and in Mexican Spanish in particular, concentrating on
the unmarked word order of this language and the perturbations of this
order that result from two left-peripheral movement operations,
topicalization and wh-movement. The core proposal developed here is that
the unmarked word order in Spanish is not the result of some licensing
condition related to the subject (i.e. Case, agreement, etc.), but rather
results from the interaction between the Extended Projection Principle
(EPP) and considerations regarding structural markedness.

The analysis developed here argues that, in the unmarked case, the EPP in
Spanish is satisfied in the specifier of the highest inflectional
projection by the argument of the verb that ranks highest in the thematic
hierarchy, which may but need not correspond to the grammatical subject. To
disassociate the constituent that satisfies the EPP from any specific
grammatical relation, I propose that it be referred to as the Pole of the
clause.

I propose that Spanish clauses with different constituents in the Pole
position have different degrees of structural markedness, depending of
their semantic role. Agents and experiencers constitute the least marked
instance of a Pole. Other arguments and adjuncts which rank lower in the
thematic hierarchy constitute more marked instances of a Pole. I argue that
beyond a certain degree of structural markedness (when the constituent that
would satisfy the EPP ranks low in the thematic hierarchy) it is better not
to satisfy the EPP altogether. This explains a number of Spanish
verb-initial constructions where the highest inflectional specifier is left
empty. I argue that Optimality Theory (Prince & Smolensky 1993), where
well-formedness conditions are interpreted as violable constraints,
provides a straightforward analysis of this state of affairs.

Finally, I show that the two fundamental properties of the Pole position,
its sensitivity to the semantic role of the constituent that occupies it
and being the position where the EPP is satisfied, allow us to explain a
number of word order facts observed in two left-peripheral phenomena in
Spanish, topicalization and the fronting of interrogative operators.



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