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LINGUIST List 18.401

Mon Feb 05 2007

Diss: Syntax: Rao: Null Objects in Telugu and English: Merge, Binding

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        1.    Anuradha Rao, Null Objects in Telugu and English: Merge, Binding Theory and Pro-drop


Message 1: Null Objects in Telugu and English: Merge, Binding Theory and Pro-drop
Date: 02-Feb-2007
From: Anuradha Rao <anuchepur13rediffmail.com>
Subject: Null Objects in Telugu and English: Merge, Binding Theory and Pro-drop


Institution: Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages
Program: Center for Linguistics and Contemporary English
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2003

Author: Anuradha Rao

Dissertation Title: Null Objects in Telugu and English: Merge, Binding Theory and Pro-drop

Linguistic Field(s): Syntax

Dissertation Director:
Madhavan Punnappurath

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation is a minimalist account of the binding theory and pro-drop.

We examine null arguments in Telugu, with a special focus on null objects.
We argue that null objects in Telugu are truly pronominals. They are not
variables (contra Huang, 1984), because an embedded object may be coindexed
with the matix subject, indicating it is not topic-bound. Null object
constructions in Telugu can't be null VPs (contra Huang 1989), because they
test negative for the two standard diagnostics for VP ellipsis: they do
not yield sloppy identity, nor do the sloppy-like readings exhibit locality
effects. The sloppy-like readings in exceptional cases arise due to the
influence of the verbal reflexive '-koL' or under pragmatic pressure. Null
objects in Telugu can't be FECs - Free empty categories (contra Xu, 1986)
because they show all the properties of a pronoun.

Following the 'condition of inclusiveness' (Chomsky, 1995), which bars
indices, we rework the binding theory in the minimalist framework, taking
the lead from Hornstein (2001) and Kayne (2001). We propose a package
called the 'Minimalist Position on the Binding Theory' (MPBT) to account
for the distribution of anaphors, pronouns and R-expressions. We argue
that the distribution of anaphors and pronouns is predetermined in MERGE.
Anaphors and pronouns are not lexical items included in the numeration, but
transformationally induced formatives. Coreference is reduced to a process
called 'cloning' in the numeration, in which an NP or a part of it is
cloned as many times as it would be referred to - forming 'clones' and
'semiclones'. Anaphors and pronouns start out as clones and semiclones of
their antecedents and they may be merged either independently or as
doubling constituents with their ancestor NP. MPBT is a mechanism, by
which, prior to A-P interface, all clones and semiclones get converted into
either anaphors or pronouns, depending on how they were merged.

The pro-drop parameter is formulated on the basis of MPBT and the principle
of inclusiveness. Pro-drop is a choice available during the application of
MPBT, by which clones and semiclones can be either converted into anaphors
and pronouns or they may be deleted. It is argued that languages differ
with respect to where MPBT applies during the computation: before or after
spell-out. Pro-drop is not permitted in languages in which MPBT applies
before spell-out, because deletion of a constituent before spell-out would
mean deletion at both the PF and LF components, and deletion at LF would
amount to a violation of the principle of inclusiveness. Pro-drop is
permitted in languages in which MPBT applies after spell-out, because
deletion of a constituent after spell-out does not affect the LF component,
and the principle of inclusiveness is not violated.



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