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LINGUIST List 18.147

Tue Jan 16 2007

Diss: Semantics/Syntax: Ihsane: 'The Construction of the DP Domain:...'

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        1.    Tabea Ihsane, The Construction of the DP Domain: From un-NPs and du/des-NPs in French to bare nouns in Romance and Germanic

Message 1: The Construction of the DP Domain: From un-NPs and du/des-NPs in French to bare nouns in Romance and Germanic
Date: 16-Jan-2007
From: Tabea Ihsane <tabea.ihsanelettres.unige.ch>
Subject: The Construction of the DP Domain: From un-NPs and du/des-NPs in French to bare nouns in Romance and Germanic

Institution: University of Geneva
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2006

Author: Tabea Ihsane

Dissertation Title: The Construction of the DP Domain: From un-NPs and du/des-NPs in French to bare nouns in Romance and Germanic

Linguistic Field(s): Semantics

Subject Language(s): French (fra)
Language Family(ies): Germanic

Dissertation Director:
Genoveva Puskas
Ur Shlonsky

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis examines un-NPs and du/des-NPs in French, i.e. nominals with
the indefinite article and with the so-called 'partitive article'
respectively. It focuses on arguments in opposition to predicates. The main
aim is to account for the different interpretations of these indefinites,
and more precisely to determine how interpretation and structure are
related. This study thus concerns the syntax-semantics interface, which
implies an analysis of the internal structure of the indefinites mentioned,
in particular of their Vorfeld and their Mittelfeld, i.e. their
informational structure and the structure related to agreement
respectively. It is realised in the framework of Generative Grammar
(Chomsky 1957, 1965, 1981) and more precisely in a cartographic approach
(Rizzi 1997, 2001, 2004, Cinque 1999, 2002, Belletti 2004 to mention a few
references of the last decade). It also assumes a strict correspondence
between syntax and semantics in that a structure can give rise to a single

The framework and the other assumptions adopted in this dissertation are
reported in Chapter 1. This chapter also summarises some of the most
well-known papers which attribute two readings to indefinites (Milsark
1974, Fodor and Sag 1982, Enç 1991, Diesing 1992). Finally, it makes
explicit the various puzzles the thesis deals with.

Chapter 2 argues for a three-way classification of un-NPs, thus
corroborating Dobrovie-Sorin and Beyssade's (2004) work. The idea is that
these indefinites may not only be referential and quantificationa,l but
that they may also be interpreted as properties. The analysis proposed to
account for these readings is based on the intervention effects arising
when these indefinites are involved. The main proposal is that the Vorfeld
of each type of indefinites is composed differently: the Vorfeld of
property-denoting un-NPs comprises a single projection, the one of
quantificational un-NPs two projections and the one of referential un-NPs
three projections. The latter have been labelled S-referential for
'speaker's reference' as their reference is dependent, mainly on the
speaker (i.e. 'in the speaker's mind'). The analysis developed in this
chapter takes into account several features of the indefinites examined,
namely their (lack of) existentiality, their (lack of) scope properties and
their (lack of) reference.

Chapter 3 shows that the analysis developed in Chapter 2 extends to
du/des-NPs. In addition, it provides a thorough analysis of the Mittelfeld
of these indefinites, and of noun phrases in general. The result is a
Mittelfeld which may comprise three layers, one encoding a [count] feature,
another one encoding [quantity] and a third one encoding [number]. Such a
structure allows us to account for the difference count/mass (following
Borer 2005), for the difference between quantitative and non-quantitatiave
du/des-NPs, which correspond respectively to some-NP and bare nouns, and
for the distinction between the article un and the numeral un. Crucially,
it also allows us to establish the base position of de and le/les, the two
components of du/des, and to account for their incorporation. The analysis
extends to de-NPs, which don't have a determiner, and leads to interesting
suggestions concerning EN-pronominalisation. This chapter further deals
with the partitive reading of du/des-NPs. The discussion extends to
partitivity in general and to the relation with the quantificational reading.

Chapter 4 concerns bare nouns in Romance and Germanic. The main goal is to
apply to bare nouns the results obtained in the previous chapters. It also
briefly discusses various processes of incorporation.

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