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LINGUIST List 18.838

Mon Mar 19 2007

Diss: Ling Theories/Syntax: Leung: 'Syntactic Derivation and the Th...'

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        1.    Tommi Leung, Syntactic Derivation and the Theory of Matching Contextual Features


Message 1: Syntactic Derivation and the Theory of Matching Contextual Features
Date: 17-Mar-2007
From: Tommi Leung <tszcheulusc.edu>
Subject: Syntactic Derivation and the Theory of Matching Contextual Features


Institution: University of Southern California
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2007

Author: Tommi Leung

Dissertation Title: Syntactic Derivation and the Theory of Matching Contextual
Features

Linguistic Field(s): Linguistic Theories
Syntax


Dissertation Director(s):
Roumyana Pancheva
Jean-Roger Vergnaud

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation examines the notion of syntactic derivation and proposes
a new and more principled account. It adequately extends the notion of
transformational relation to constructions standardly taken to be outside
the scope of that relation.

One example is the comparison between 'free relatives' and
'correlatives'. We claim that the semantics shared by the two
superficially distinct constructions reflects the common syntactic
structure, formalized by 'chains' as the 'occurrence(s)' of a lexical item
(Chomsky 1981:45, 1982, 1995:250-252, 2000:114-116, 2001:39-40, 2004:15).
Two items standing in an occurrence relation form a constituent, which
subsumes the head-complement and Spec-head relation (Chomsky 1995:172;
Koizumi 1999:15). The occurrence(s) explicitly represent(s) the contexts
that the item bears during the derivation. In free relatives (e.g. 'Ann
ate what Mary cooked'), the wh-word has the occurrences (*ate, Comp,
cooked), with 'ate' coming from the matrix predicate, and Complementizer
and 'cooked' from the embedded clause. In correlatives (e.g. 'What Mary
cooked, Ann ate that' as in Hindi), the wh-word has the occurrences
(*Comp, cooked, that), and 'that 'has an occurrence (*ate). 'That' is
an occurrence of the wh-word given the coindexation, analyzable by the
'doubling constituent' [DEM-XP what that] (extending Kayne 2002). The
phonological realization of an item corresponds to its strong occurrence
(*) (Boeckx 2003:13).

A derivation is then an algorithm of matching lexical items with their
occurrence(s)/context(s). Each item bears a 'conceptual' and a 'contextual'
role, the latter driving a derivation (Vergnaud 2003; Prinzhorn, Vergnaud
and Zubizarreta 2004:11). Each item contains a set of 'contextual features'
that are matched by another item. Two items match their contextual features
and derive at least one interpretable relation at the interface level. No
matching of contextual features is interpretably empty.

We also claim that narrow syntax is the recursive application of a
'binary operation' of 'concatenation' (+) defined over syntactic objects.
The system is free of some problems faced by 'Merge' (Chomsky 1995:226),
and the recursive application of concatenation of lexical items entails all
major properties of constituent structures, for instance the derivation of
'labels', 'heads' and 'complements' (also Collins 2002).
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