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Dissertation Information

Title: DETs in the Functional Syntax of Greek Nominals Add Dissertation
Author: Maria Kyriakaki Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Toronto, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 2011
Linguistic Subfield(s): Linguistic Theories;
Director(s): Diane Massam
Elizabeth Cowper
Alana Johns

Abstract: In this dissertation, I explore the formal mechanisms underlying
restrictive modification by nominals (RMN). The central claim is that
RMN is dependent on how definiteness is encoded in a given

In Greek, RMN is exemplified by extra definite determiners followed by
bare adjectives, as shown in (1) below. These may precede or follow
the matrix nominal:

(1)To ksilino to kuti to skalisto
The wooden the box the carved
‘The carved wooden box’/ ‘The carved box the wooden one’

Syntactically, I argue that the determiner and the adjective may form
either a restrictive or non-restrictive nominal depending on their
structural position. Focusing on restrictive nominals, I argue that they
are adjuncts to nP, which raise to FocP when focused. These adjuncts
are small nominals, consisting of acategorial roots and n. A look at the
structure of the matrix noun reveals that adjectives adjoin to NumP, as
they are always prenominal. A look at genitives also suggests that
Greek nouns move as high as NumP.

Central to this thesis is the question of what licenses RMN. Previous
analyses have correlated it with rich morphology (Lekakou and
Szendrői, 2007, 2008, 2010). For them, the determiner is the spell-out
of inflection, but is otherwise a semantic expletive.

I argue that RMN is best viewed as being dependent on how
definiteness is encoded and that the definite determiner is simply
underspecified for definiteness. Assuming that definiteness consists of
two components, familiarity and uniqueness, and based on data from
Standard English and Scottish English, I propose that definite
determiners spelling out one component, familiarity, are predicted to
exhibit RMN. Familiarity and uniqueness can thus be mapped into two
syntactic projections, FamP and ιP, respectively. I then propose a
syntactico-semantic mechanism that derives these constructions.

Hence, this research offers a modern cross-linguistic account of RMN,
while it also provides us with new insights about how definiteness can
be encoded cross-linguistically.