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LINGUIST List 18.1803

Thu Jun 14 2007

Diss: Syntax/Semantics/Pragmatics: Kucerova: 'The Syntax of Givenness'

Editor for this issue: Hunter Lockwood <hunterlinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Ivona Kucerova, The Syntax of Givenness

Message 1: The Syntax of Givenness
Date: 14-Jun-2007
From: Ivona Kucerova <ivonaalum.mit.edu>
Subject: The Syntax of Givenness

Institution: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Program: Department of Linguistics and Philosophy
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2007

Author: Ivona Kucerova

Dissertation Title: The Syntax of Givenness

Dissertation URL: http://web.mit.edu/kucerova/www/Kucerova2007Thesis.pdf

Linguistic Field(s): Pragmatics

Subject Language(s): Czech (ces)

Dissertation Director:
Danny Fox
Sabine Iatridou
Alec Marantz
David Pesetsky

Dissertation Abstract:

The goal of this thesis is to account for distributional patterns of given
and new items in Czech, especially their word order. The system proposed
here has four basic components: (i) syntax, (ii) economy, (iii)
interpretation, and (iv) reference set computation. The approach belongs to
the family of interface driven approaches.

The syntactic part of the thesis introduces a free syntactic movement
(G-movement). The movement causes very local reordering of given elements
with respect to new elements in the structure. G-movement is licensed only
if it creates a syntactic structure which leads to a semantic
interpretation that would not otherwise be available. The economy condition
interacts with the way givenness is interpreted. I introduce a recursive
operator that adds a presupposition to given elements. The distribution of
the operator is regulated by the Maximize presupposition maxim of Heim
(1991). The reference set for purposes of this evaluation is defined as the
set of derivations that have the same numeration and the same assertion.

Finally, I argue that the licensing semantic conditions on givenness in
Czech are not identical to the licensing conditions on deaccenting in
English. The givenness licensing conditions are stronger in that they
require that for an element to be given it must not only have a salient
antecedent but also satisfy an existential presupposition.

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