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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: Comparatives and DP-Structure Add Dissertation
Author: Winfried Lechner Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 1999
Linguistic Subfield(s): Syntax;
Director(s): Kyle Johnson

Abstract: Generative analyses traditionally acknowledge the fact that comparative formation ('Millhouse is better prepared today than Ralf was yesterday') potentially involves two types of ellipsis unattested in other contexts: Comparative Deletion (CD; Bresnan 1973), which elides the gradable property ('d-good'), and Comparative Ellipsis (CE; Pinkham 1982), a deletion operation optionally applying to categories ('prepared') in the comparative complement. Based on an investigation of structurally complex NP-comparatives, I present a new theory of comparatives which does not require reference to construction specific processes.

According to the AP-Raising Hypothesis of CD, CD consists in overt, feature-driven movement of the gradable property from the CD-site to its surface position. Thus, the analysis rests on two assumptions: First, CD is a syntactic process, and not a manifestation of semantic ellipsis, as advocated e.g. by Kennedy (1997) and Lerner and Pinkal (1995). Empirical support for this view derives from an investigation of the scopal properties of the CD-site itself as well as the scopal characteristics of material inside the CD-site. In particular, I consider evidence drawn from reconstruction effects in comparatives, obviation of WCO in attributive comparatives, ATB-extraction in comparatives, and referentially opaque readings of the CD-site. It is demonstrated that in all of these domains, the AP-Raising analysis proves more adequate than alternative semantic accounts. Second, the AP-Raising Hypothesis posits that the comparatively marked phrase is associated with the CD-site by overt movement, not by ellipsis. Since movement requires c-command, it follows as a corollary that the CD-site and its antecedent are embedded in a right-branching phrase marker. I demonstrate that this conception leads to a solution to a number of old and new puzzles related to structure and interpretation of NP-comparatives, such as the influence of word-order variation on the size of the CD-site (Bresnan 1973), interpretive asymmetries between pre- and postnominal adjectival modifiers (Siegel 1976), the status of the empty operator chain (Chomsky 1977, Moltmann 1992), and binding relations between NP-modifiers and categories within the comparative complement. All LF-representations are shown to be directly compositionally interpretable in the semantic component.

The second major objective of my dissertation consists in defending the Conjunction Reduction (CR)-Hypothesis of phrasal comparative formation. According to the CR-Hypothesis, all phrasal comparatives with a semantically meaningful clausal base derive from CD plus the application of Gapping, RNR and ATB-movement. That is, I argue that the syntactic structure of reduced comparatives overlaps at one point of the derivation with the convergence of properties which defines coordinate structures. It is demonstrated that the CR-Hypothesis leads to a complete analysis of the distribution and shape of reduced comparative complements, both for strict word order languages (e.g. English), and for languages with a relatively freely ordered middle field (e.g. German). This perspective makes it possible to fully subsume the effects of Comparative Ellipsis under the more general phenomena of ATB-movement, Gapping and RNR, and offers an account for the intricate interaction between serialization and ellipsis in the comparative complement. In addition, the CR-Hypothesis provides an explanation for various interpretive effects in phrasal comparative, which prove hard to state in competing direct analyses (Heim 1985; Krifka 1987; Napoli 1983). In particular, only the CR-Hypothesis correctly captures correlations between binding scope of the remnant and the size of the ellipsis site withing the comparative complement.