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LINGUIST List 18.1954

Fri Jun 29 2007

Diss: Syntax/Semantics/Pragmatics: Eggert: 'Disconcordance: The syn...'

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        1.    Randall Eggert, Disconcordance: The syntax, semantics, and pragmatics of or- agreement

Message 1: Disconcordance: The syntax, semantics, and pragmatics of or- agreement
Date: 29-Jun-2007
From: Randall Eggert <reggertlinguistics.utah.edu>
Subject: Disconcordance: The syntax, semantics, and pragmatics of or- agreement

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

Author: Randall Eggert

Dissertation Title: Disconcordance: The syntax, semantics, and pragmatics of or- agreement

Linguistic Field(s): Pragmatics

Dissertation Director:
Ted Cohen
Amy Dahlstrom
Jerrold Sadock

Dissertation Abstract:

Linguists have analyzed agreement from different perspectives. Some have
argued that it is a syntactic phenomenon, others that it is a semantic
phenomenon, and still others that it is a discourse phenomenon. While each
perspective is correct to some degree, no single perspective is sufficient.
Agreement cannot be adequately described in any single realm. Rather, it is
determined by many factors: syntactic, semantic, discourse, referential,
and pragmatic. In most cases, the factors tend to align in producing the
same agreement forms. For this reason, one analytic method--say syntax,
semantics, or discourse--can account for a vast amount of data. To see the
role of each factor, we need to look at cases where there are mismatches.
For this reason, linguists have been paying more and more attention to
agreement with coordinative subjects. Although linguists have progressed in
understanding coordinative agreement, they have mostly concentrated on
conjunction, assuming their analyses apply equally to disjunction. We can
obtain a better picture by looking at disjunction as well, since
disjunction commonly leads to modular misalignments. This dissertation
marks the first extensive study of agreement with disjunctive subjects. In
order to analyze the grammatical structures of disjunction, I use an
Autolexical framework, which allows for independent semantic and syntactic
representations of grammatical structure. Such independent structures make
it possible to isolate the factors involved, a crucial step in analyzing
agreement data. I supplement this framework with a discourse level that is
mapped off of semantic structure and with a set of weighted agreement
constraints. Among the constraints I posit are syntactic, semantic,
discourse, and referential constraints. Individual speakers differ in how
they assign relative weight to the constraints, and this difference leads
to variation, which is widespread with agreement (especially disjunctive
agreement). For example, some speakers place more weight on semantic
factors than others do. Indeed, some speakers even make use of contextual
cues in determining agreement. This last fact may force us to reevaluate
pragmatics' role in grammar. Traditionally pragmatics is viewed as outside
grammar; however, I argue that it permeates grammar.

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