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LINGUIST List 19.1422

Mon Apr 28 2008

Diss: Syntax: Alcazar: 'A Minimalist Analysis of Participial Constr...'

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        1.    Asier Alcazar, A Minimalist Analysis of Participial Constructions

Message 1: A Minimalist Analysis of Participial Constructions
Date: 25-Apr-2008
From: Asier Alcazar <alcazaramissouri.edu>
Subject: A Minimalist Analysis of Participial Constructions
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Institution: University of Southern California
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2007

Author: Asier Alcazar

Dissertation Title: A Minimalist Analysis of Participial Constructions

Linguistic Field(s): Syntax

Subject Language(s): Basque (eus)

Dissertation Director:
Mario Saltarelli
Audrey Li
Roumyana Pancheva
Jean Roger Vergnaud

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation proposes that past participial constructions are the
expressed complements of vP and CP phases (Chomsky 2001, 2005). If correct,
this calls for a minimalist reanalysis of non-finite structures as phases,
given the possibility to end a derivation at an intermediate Spell-Out. The
analysis is based on an extensive survey of participial constructions
across languages and historical periods that we extracted from diachronic
and contemporary corpora as well as the specialized literature.

English (9th-21st c.), Latin and Modern Romance participial constructions
present exceptional characteristics. Absolute participials serve as a test
for unaccusativity, because they ban unergative predicates (Perlmutter
1978b, Rosen 1983, McCawley 1983, Stump 1985, Kayne 1989, Belletti 1990,
López 2001). Participial relatives share this peculiarity as well (Williams
1975, Burzio 1986, Levin and Rappaport 1986, Kayne 1994, Siloni 1997, Bhatt
1999). Additionally, they behave in a manner unexpected of relatives. The
Accessibility Hierarchy (Keenan and Comrie 1977) predicts that a relative
clause should be able to relativize subjects (e.g., present participles).
In contrast, past participles relativize passive/unaccusative subjects only.

We analyze these participial constructions as the expressed VP complement
of the vP phase. The syntax respects the Extended Projection Principle
(Chomsky 1982, 1995), for unergatives and active transitives are
thematically complete. However, only the VP complement is Spelled-Out,
resulting into a construction that serves as a test for unaccusativity, and
where subjects are not accessible for relativization. Participial
constructions adopt other forms, which are unexceptional and understudied
in connection to their English, Latin and Modern Romance counterparts.
These forms are the expressed complements of a tensed or tenseless CP
phase. In Basque and Old Italian (13th-16th c. cf. Egerland 1996), for
example, absolutes accept unergatives, failing as a test for
unaccusativity. Participial relatives in Basque, Sanskrit, Malayalam,
Quechua and Turkish permit subject relativization, in consonance with the
Accessibility Hierarchy. Participial constructions may be tensed too:
gerundivals (Basque, English (16th-21st c.), Sanskrit, Old Italian and
Modern Romance); participial relatives (Basque; Old Egyptian (ca. 2650-1990
BCE) and Tamil cf. Doron and Reintges 2007). Tensed participial
constructions do not serve as a test for unaccusativity, nor do they
violate the Accessibility Hierarchy.

Previous analyses had focused either on participial absolutes or
participial relatives, but not both. Our unified account paves the way for
an alternative approach to the analysis of non-finite constructions as
intermediate Spell-Outs.

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