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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 Semantics and Syntax of the passé surcomposé in Modern French Add Dissertation
Author: Kate Paesani Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Indiana University Bloomington, Department of French and Italian
Completed in: 2001
Linguistic Subfield(s): Semantics; Syntax;
Subject Language(s): French
Director(s): Barbara Vance
Laurent Dekydtspotter

Abstract: This dissertation provides a characterization of the meaning and grammar of the French passé surcomposé (psc) articulated within the context of generative grammar and Discourse Representation Theory. The psc is a double compound past form expressing perfect aspect (i.e. Jean a eu mangé une pomme ‘Jean had eaten an apple’). After presenting a critical review of previous literature on the psc, I illustrate the compositional nature of the psc sentence through a comprehensive examination of psc data. I show that the temporal-aspectual value of the psc sentence is determined through the interaction of grammatical aspect, lexical aspect and context. Next, I outline the semantic framework used to explain the data before providing a formal account of the semantics of the psc. I show that the psc, often associated with numerous semantic values, expresses perfect aspect in all syntactic environments. Furthermore, I show that additional semantic nuances fall out as implicatures from the semantics of the psc, the discourse context and conversational maxims. I next consider the syntactic representation of the psc, couching my discussion in terms of the Principles and Parameters and Minimalist theories of grammar. I argue for a hierarchical structure in which each of the three verbs forms is the head of a separate VP and is in turn dominated by a functional category. This hierarchy yields the structure [ TP [ VP [ Asp1P [ VP [ Aps2P [ VP ]]]]]]. The semantic properties associated with the psc can be mapped directly onto this structure. I further argue that this basic structure is sufficient to account for the psc in all of its syntactic environments, showing in particular that a complex array of facts concerning the choice of have or be as auxiliary can be reduced to minor parametric variation of a type already motivated for Romance in general.