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LINGUIST List 22.3673

Wed Sep 21 2011

Diss: Semantics/Syntax: Jenks: 'The Hidden Structure of Thai Noun ...'

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        1.     Peter Jenks , The Hidden Structure of Thai Noun Phrases

Message 1: The Hidden Structure of Thai Noun Phrases
Date: 16-Sep-2011
From: Peter Jenks <psejenksgmail.com>
Subject: The Hidden Structure of Thai Noun Phrases
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Institution: Harvard University
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2011

Author: Peter Spiros Eric Jenks

Dissertation Title: The Hidden Structure of Thai Noun Phrases

Linguistic Field(s): Semantics
Syntax


Dissertation Director(s):
Maria Polinsky
C.-T. James Huang
Gennaro Chierchia

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation investigates the structure and interpretation of noun phrases
in Thai and other classifier languages, focusing particular attention on whether
Thai contains the same articulated functional architecture as languages with
articles. I argue that while bare nouns in Thai do not project DP, DPs are
projected in other constructions involving classifiers, and that this DP
functions as a phase for cyclic spell-out. It is argued that Thai DPs involve
the obligatory movement of the NP,
accounting for their noun-initial word order.

A uniform analysis of clausal modification within the noun phrase is provided,
driven by an analysis of the particle 'thii' as a complementizer that derives
properties from clauses, with the use of 'thii' in relative clauses being one
instance of this use. The analysis of Thai bare nouns as NPs and 'thii' as a
relative complementizer are reconciled with a head-movement analysis of Thai
relative clauses, motivated by empirical considerations. Under this analysis,
noun-complement clauses are analyzed as modifiers, on par with relative clauses.
The property-operator analysis of 'thii' is suggested to extend to its
occurrence in clefts and infinitival clauses as well.

A further construction is investigated in which modifiers do not combine
directly with nouns, but instead follow classifiers, resulting in a definite
interpretation. This construction provides evidence for a null determiner in
Thai, which is argued to take modifiers as complements, either as CPs or as
small clauses. The general prohibition against bare classifiers in Thai,
alleviated by the presence of modifiers following classifiers, is argued to
follow from a structural economy constraint which
prefers definite bare nouns to definite bare classifiers. It is argued that this
constraint can also provide a principled account for which classifier languages
do and do not allow bare classifiers to occur with nouns.

The ability of quantifiers and their accompanying classifiers to appear
discontinuously from their associated noun, or quantifier float, is the final
major topic of this dissertation. Scope facts lend themselves to an analysis of
quantifier float as a byproduct of Quantifier Raising, the normal movement of
quantificational noun phrases to their scope position. Thus, quantifier float is
analyzed as movement of the entire DP, with the quantifier and noun occurring in
different positions due to the conflicting semantic transparency requirements.
A generalization about the availability of quantifier float in classifier
languages is presented: only languages in which quantifiers follow nouns allow
rightward quantifier float. In light of the proposed analysis, this
generalization provides evidence that DP is a phase even in languages that lack
articles.

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