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LINGUIST List 20.4081

Sun Nov 29 2009

Diss: Syntax: Tran: 'Wh-quantification in Vietnamese'

Editor for this issue: Di Wdzenczny <dilinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Thuan Tran, Wh-quantification in Vietnamese

Message 1: Wh-quantification in Vietnamese
Date: 27-Nov-2009
From: Thuan Tran <tthuan2009gmail.com>
Subject: Wh-quantification in Vietnamese
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Institution: University of Delaware
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2009

Author: Thuan Tran

Dissertation Title: Wh-quantification in Vietnamese

Linguistic Field(s): Syntax

Subject Language(s): Vietnamese (vie)

Dissertation Director:
Benjamin Bruening
Howard Lasnik
Satoshi Tomioka

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation looks at the dual lives of wh-phrases in Vietnamese,
namely their syntax-semantic behavior in interrogative and
non-interrogative contexts. I argue that Hamblin (1973) semantics as
revived by Kratzer & Shimoyama (2002) (henceforth neo-Hamblin semantics) is
more plausible in that it allows us to maintain a uniform denotation of
wh-phrases, and, at the same time to account for their apparent various
quantificational interpretations.

Chapter I presents a brief review of quantification theories and
wh-quantification in Vietnamese.

Chapter II is concerned with Vietnamese syntax. In this chapter, I
investigate Vietnamese nominal and clausal structures and various topics in
the nominal and clausal domains.

Chapter III explores one aspect of the non-interrogative life of
wh-phrases, namely when they obtain universal interpretations. When a
wh-phrase associates locally or non-locally with cũng, a focus sensitive
particle, a universal interpretation arises. I propose that in local cases
this focus sensitive particle is head of a Focus Phrase in overt syntax
that requires a focused element in its Spec. The focus particle is a
universal quantifier that takes a propositional alternative set as its
argument, which yields a universal interpretation. I argue that the
non-local association between a wh-phrase and this particle is only
apparent given that this particle is not obligatory and its presence adds a
concessive flavor. I therefore propose that a universal interpretation in
non-local contexts derives from a covert universal quantifier over situations.

Chapter IV continues with the non-interrogative life of wh-phrases with a
discussion of existential interpretations of wh-phrases. I hold that
existential interpretations arise from the existential closure by
alternative set-taking operators. The availability of these operators is
subject to licensing. The requirement that a licensor must c-command its
licensee, but does not need to be clause-mate with it, fits into the
picture of neo-Hamblin semantics. In addition, a wh-phrase can form a
constituent with a particle. This constituent does not need licensing and
can take any scope. I propose that the existential interpretation of this
constituent is derived from the existential closure of a choice function
variable introduced by the particle.

Chapter V looks into the interrogative life of wh-phrases. Wh-questions in
Vietnamese employ two strategies: LF movement and non-movement. LF movement
is required by the Hamblin interpretative mechanism: A wh-phrase must
undergo LF movement to Spec, CP to stop the alternative set introduced by
the wh-phrase from expanding. When a question operator is available,
namely, when it is licensed by a wh-particle, no movement is needed: The
propositional alternative set is captured by this operator, through which a
question reading obtains.

Chapter VI summarizes the main points in the five chapters and indicates
what this dissertation contributes to the field. I hold that it is
universal that wh-phrases denote sets of in individual alternatives. Their
quantificational forces derive from the operators that capture alternative
sets. Languages differ with respect to what type of operators is used. With
respect to wh-questions we propose that overt movement is purely syntactic,
and it is universal that wh-in-situ languages do not employ covert
movement. The covert movement in Vietnamese is language specific. Finally,
I offer an account for the island effects in Vietnamese from the
perspective of language acquisition.

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