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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: The Syntax-Information Structure Interface: Subjects and clausal word order in Galician Add Dissertation
Author: Timothy Gupton Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Iowa, Department of Spanish & Portuguese
Completed in: 2010
Linguistic Subfield(s): Syntax;
Subject Language(s): Galician
Director(s): Paula Kempchinsky
Jason Rothman
Roumyana Slabakova
William Davies

Abstract: Previous accounts of preverbal subjects in Spanish and European Portuguese
(EP) in the literature have debated the syntactic position of these
elements. According to some analyses, preverbal subjects are canonical
arguments appearing in an A-position (e.g. Goodall 2001, 2002; Suñer 2003
for Spanish; Duarte 1997; Costa 2004 for EP). Other analyses propose that
preverbal subjects are non-arguments appearing in a left-peripheral -
perhaps CLLD - A'-position (e.g. Uribe-Etxebarria 1990, 1995; Ordóñez &
Treviño 1999 for Spanish; Barbosa 1996, 2000 for EP). Although Galician is
an ideal language for insight on this debate due to linguistic ties with EP
and political ties with Spain, Gupton (2006) obtained inconclusive results
regarding the status of preverbal subjects in Galician.

As the literature on Galician lacks descriptions of preferred word orders
according to discourse context, I collected quantitative and qualitative
experimental data to describe the syntax-information structure interface in
Galician. The vast majority of speakers of this minority language are
Spanish-Galician bilinguals with (self-reported) high levels of competency
in both languages. This is of relevance because a variety of bilinguals,
including heritage speakers, attrited L1 speakers, and those who have been
claimed to have incompletely acquired the heritage language have been shown
to exhibit instability and optionality at the linguistic interfaces, in
particular at the syntax-discourse pragmatics interface (e.g. Hulk & Müller
2000; Sorace 2005 among numerous others), which is the subject of
investigation in this dissertation. The data collected indicate a marked
preference for SVO in a wide variety of discourse contexts, a preference
that differs from those claimed to apply in similar contexts in Spanish
(e.g. Ordóñez 1997, Zubizarreta 1998, Casielles 2004).

Assuming that the presence of clitics implies the projection of F (Raposo &
Uriagereka 2005) and the extension of the preverbal field into the left
periphery, the cliticization data gathered for Galician in main clauses,
subordinate clauses and recomplementation contexts suggest a number of
preverbal positions in which preverbal subjects, affective phrases, and
Topic elements may appear, one of which I suggest is Spec, DoubledFceP,
following Martín-González (2002), but with proposed modifications. The data
also suggest necessary modifications for López's (2009) syntax-information
structure interface proposal in Romance, which suggests a reduced,
syncretic left-peripheral position (Spec, FinP) in which CLLD Topics, WH-
elements, and Fronted Focus elements appear and are assigned [+c]
(contrastive) by the Pragmatics module. Within the preverbal architecture I
propose, preverbal subjects and other left-peripheral elements coincide,
but in a variety of syntactic positions. Therefore, for pragmatic feature
assignment to successfully assign [+c], Pragmatics must distinguish between
preverbal subjects and other left-peripheral phrases.