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LINGUIST List 22.2342

Fri Jun 03 2011

Diss: Syntax:Šimík: 'Modal Existential WH-Constructions'

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        1.     Radek Šimík , Modal Existential WH-Constructions

Message 1: Modal Existential WH-Constructions
Date: 02-Jun-2011
From: Radek Šimík <simikuni-potsdam.de>
Subject: Modal Existential WH-Constructions
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Institution: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
Program: Center for Language and Cognition
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2011

Author: Radek Šimík

Dissertation Title: Modal Existential WH-Constructions

Dissertation URL: http://www.sfb632.uni-potsdam.de/~simik/pdf/simik-thesis.pdf

Linguistic Field(s): Syntax


Dissertation Director(s):
Mark de Vries
Jan Koster

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation is a thorough investigation of the syntax, semantics, and
typology of modal existential wh-constructions ('I have [with whom to speak]' 'I
have somebody who I can speak with') - the last major type of wh-construction
(next to questions and relative clauses) that is still relatively poorly
understood. The author argues that their proper analysis enhances the
understanding of a variety of richly discussed issues, including the
syntax-semantics of argument structure, event structure, existential predicates,
wh-movement, covert modality, and obligatory control.

The core proposal of the dissertation is that modal existential wh-constructions
are not ordinary objects of the verb which they are selected by (a predicate
expressing the state of existence or availability, or a complex predicate
leading to such a state), as previously assumed, but rather constitute an
additional independent argument. This argument is an integral part of the
complex event structure of the matrix verb - its
'event extension' - and as such characterizes possible developments of the state
or event denoted by the matrix predicate. The proposed analysis accounts for
many apparently unmotivated properties of these constructions, including their
highly restricted scope, modality, and syntactic distribution on the one hand,
and a relative freedom of their internal syntactic shape on the other. The
analysis also reveals a previously
unobserved but remarkably tight relationship between modal existential
wh-constructions and English purpose clauses.

This dissertation is of interest to theoretically and typologically oriented
linguists working on wh-constructions, purpose clauses, existential sentences,
event structure, and modality. On a more general level, it deals with issues at
the syntax-semantics and syntax-pragmatics interface.

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