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Words Onscreen

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Communication Accommodation Theory

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Dissertation Information


Title: The Syntax of Non-verbal Causation: The causative apomorphy of 'from' in Greek and Germanic languages Add Dissertation
Author: Alexandra Ioannidou Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: CUNY Graduate Center, Linguistics
Completed in: 2012
Linguistic Subfield(s): Semantics; Syntax;
Language Family(ies): Germanic
Director(s): Marcel den Dikken
William McClure
Christina Tortora
Thomas Leu

Abstract: This is a study of the meaning and syntax of non-(lexical)verbal causation.
Macroscopically, it examines the preposition 'from' as attested in contexts
like 'X is/comes from Y'. Syntactic diagnostics are applied to formally
distinguish the causative from the spatial interpretations of 'from'-PPs in
Greek, English, Dutch, and German. The syntactic landscape of causative
'from' will turn out to be very minimal with 'from' directly selecting the
Cause-DP, in contradistinction to its spatial counterpart, where 'from'
always selects for another PP layer. More microscopically then I focus on
the causative interpretations only, which are particularly revealing
because (i) they give an in-depth view of CAUSE, stripped of all verbal
layers⎯traditionally considered the locus of CAUSE⎯suggesting that the
source of causation in non-(lexical)verbal environments has to be the
preposition per se and (ii) they single-handedly provide a rudimentary
structure for causation, where 'from' introduces the Cause in its
complement and is predicated of the Causee. Finally, with a basic
predicational structure in place, I offer a detailed cross-linguistic
account for the syntactic mechanism that forces the use of particle verbs
in causative 'from'-less environments.