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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: Subjects, Events and Licensing Add Dissertation
Author: Heidi Harley Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Linguistics and Philosophy
Completed in: 1995
Linguistic Subfield(s): Syntax;
Subject Language(s): Icelandic
Director(s): Alec Marantz

Abstract: While the notion of RsubjectS as a primitive of grammar is in some way encoded in most modern syntactic theories, the cluster of syntactic properties attributed to subjects is not a homogenous one. This thesis aims to precisely characterize certain of these properties, partially through an investigation of constructions where they fail to converge.

Two of these properties are of particular interest. First, the structural properties associated with Rexternal argumentsS are examined, that is, the question of where thematic subjects (as opposed to clausal subjects) are base-generated. Drawing on evidence from Japanese lexical causatives, a Rsplit-VPS structure is argued for, in which external arguments (Agents, Causers) are generated in the specifier of a projection which marks the introduction of an event argument (hence termed EventP). Below EventP are case-checking positions for underlying objects and indirect objects (internal arguments) as well as the projection in which internal arguments are base-generated (RBasePS). RVerbsS on this approach consist of a RBaseS head in combination with an REventS head, and the decomposition of verbal meaning into RprimitivesS such as CAUSE, HAVE or BE is assumed. In support, a correlation is drawn between the existence of the predicate RhaveS in a language and the possibility of a double object/double complement al Secondly, the question of morphological nominative case is considered. Nominative marking on an NP is typically taken to be an indicator of subjecthood, nonetheless, there are constructions in which a nominative-marked argument behaves according to a number of syntactic tests to be in object position. Such nominative objects in Icelandic are examined in detail, and a mechanism for assigning morphological case is proposed which modifies standard assumptions about the strict connection of morphological case with structural position. Given such modification, the question of NP-licensing is re-examined, with an eye to dispensing with abstract case entirely; the apparent effects of abstract case assignment (and, incidentally, BuzioUs Generalization) are seen to be the result of the interaction of the mechanism governing morphological case assignment with the Extended Projection Principle.