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LINGUIST List 20.178

Tue Jan 20 2009

Diss: Morphology/Syntax: Lahne: 'Where There is Fire There is Smoke...'

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        1.    Antje Lahne, Where There is Fire There is Smoke: Local modelling of successive-cyclic movement


Message 1: Where There is Fire There is Smoke: Local modelling of successive-cyclic movement
Date: 19-Jan-2009
From: Antje Lahne <lahneuni-leipzig.de>
Subject: Where There is Fire There is Smoke: Local modelling of successive-cyclic movement
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Institution: Universität Leipzig
Program: Institut für Linguistik
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2008

Author: Antje Lahne

Dissertation Title: Where There is Fire There is Smoke: Local modelling of
successive-cyclic movement

Linguistic Field(s): Morphology
Syntax

Subject Language(s): Chamorro (cha)
Gaelic, Irish (gle)
Gikuyu (kik)


Dissertation Director(s):
Gereon Müller
Sandra Chung
Joachim Sabel

Dissertation Abstract:

The goal of this thesis is twofold: The first aim is to diagnose for phase
heads on the basis of semantic, morphological and syntactic reflexes of
movement, and to propose a phase model resting upon these empirical
observations. This work examines most known reflexes of successive-cyclic
movement and develops a phase model resting upon the empirical evidence.
The result is that all core heads on the spine of the derivation - C, I, v
and V - are phase heads. The main outcome is thus that each phrase is a
phase. Phases are therefore not defined on semantic grounds, but by purely
syntactic criteria: A phase comprises the smallest possible operation space
that permits a successful derivation.

The second aim is to propose a uniform analysis for morphological and
syntactic reflexes of successive-cyclic movement. The basic idea of the
analysis is that morphological and syntactic path effects are due to the
deletion of morpho-syntactic features of probing heads as a consequence of
movement to the edge. Impoverishment thus happens in the syntax. Probe
impoverishment has an effect on the inflectional markers that are
post-syntactically inserted into the probe: If morphosyntactic features are
deleted before vocabulary insertion takes place, then a marker M may not
fit anymore into the relevant context. In this case a less specific marker
than M is inserted. I formulate this generalisation as follows: When a
language shows different exponents in movement and non-movement contexts,
then the marker appearing in the context of movement is less specific than
the marker appearing in non-movement contexts (= retreat to the general
case, emergence of the unmarked).

I apply the new analysis not only on morphological, but also on syntactic
path effects such as verb inversion. The decisive advantage of the new
approach is that it offers a uniform analysis for all morphological and
syntactic path effects which is yielded by a minimal change in the
modelling of movement to the edge. The analysis correctly derives the
surprising characteristic of long movement in languages like Chamorro that
higher verbs do not register the argument status of the passing wh-element,
but the respective argument status of the clause from which the wh-element
is extracted. In addition, the analysis derives the effects of (seeming)
extraction restrictions correctly without actually invoking these
restrictions. Furthermore, syncretisms in the verbal morphology of Chamorro
and Irish can now be treated as occurrences of one and the same
underspecified marker. Finally, the new analysis delivers a new argument in
favour of finite control as movement, and resolves two puzzles in the
syntax in Kikuyu (subject-object extraction asymmetry, location of
wh-subject below complementiser) by deriving that wh-subjects in this
language can stay in situ while at the same time extraction morphology
shows up.
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