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LINGUIST List 18.452

Fri Feb 09 2007

Diss: Semantics/Syntax: Castroviejo: 'Wh-exclamatives in Catalan'

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

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        1.    Elena Castroviejo, Wh-exclamatives in Catalan

Message 1: Wh-exclamatives in Catalan
Date: 08-Feb-2007
From: Elena Castroviejo <elena.castroviejoupf.edu>
Subject: Wh-exclamatives in Catalan

Institution: University of Barcelona
Program: Cognitive Science and Language
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2006

Author: Elena Castroviejo

Dissertation Title: Wh-exclamatives in Catalan

Dissertation URL: http://mutis.upf.es/glif/pub/elena/elena/tesi.pdf

Linguistic Field(s): Semantics

Subject Language(s): Catalan-Valencian-Balear (cat)

Dissertation Director:
Louise E McNally
Xavier Villalba Nicolás

Dissertation Abstract:

The main goal of the thesis Wh-exclamatives in Catalan is to shed light on
the characterization of a type of clause that has not received as much
attention as other types of clauses such as interrogatives or declaratives.
My working hypothesis is that exclamatives are a kind of degree
construction that is reminiscent of comparative and result clause
constructions. However, exclamatives and declarative degree constructions
differ in at least two important properties: the presence of wh-movement
and their way of updating the Common Ground.

This work specifically studies two instances of wh-exclamatives in Catalan,
namely exclamatives whose wh-word is the degree operator que ('how') ((1))
and exclamatives introduced by the wh-word quin ('what') ((2)).

(1) [Que alt]DegP que és en Pau!
'How tall Pau is!'
(2) [Quin pastís [tan bo] DegP]DP que ha preparat en Ferran!
'What a nice cake Ferran made!'

Syntactically, I assume that the wh-phrase lands in Spec,C and, thus, the
presence of the complementizer que in Cº. On the other hand, I propose that
it is required that the wh-phrase include a DegP introduced by tan or que
(the latter of which I analyze as tan [+wh]). Semantically, tan is a
degree operator that establishes a "greater than or equal to" relation
between two degrees, a reference degree and a standard degree. The
reference degree is the degree of ADJ-ness of the individual that is the
argument of the gradable adjective, interpreted as a measure function. The
standard degree is taken from context and it must be high. Finally, the
particular discourse contribution of exclamatives (i.e., they cannot be
used as answers to questions) has led me to propose that they include
descriptive content that is not asserted. More specifically, an exclamative
contains two kinds of meaning: an explicit meaning (i.e., that the subject
is at least as ADJ as a high degree) and an implicated meaning (i.e., that
the speaker shows an attitude towards the subject's degree of ADJ-ness). I
analyze the explicit meaning as a fact (and not as a proposition), because
the speaker does not use this content as new information to update the
Common Ground.

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