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Modality Across Syntactic Categories

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Dissertation Information

Title: The Structure of the Vietnamese Noun Phrase Add Dissertation
Author: Tuong Nguyen Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Boston University, Linguistics Department
Completed in: 2004
Linguistic Subfield(s): Syntax; Typology;
Language Family(ies): Austro-Asiatic
Director(s): Paul Hagstrom
Carol Neidle

Abstract: This dissertation is a study of the Vietnamese Noun Phrase from a generative perspective. It provides an account of word order possibilities within the Noun Phrase across several language families of Southeast Asia, with a focus on Vietnamese. The proposal is that the different word orders attested in Noun Phrases are derived by applications of syntactic movement from a single underlying Determiner Phrase (DP) structure. This proposal constitutes a significant departure from prior analyses of Vietnamese and other related languages.

Chapter 1 provides background about Vietnamese and presents the facts about word order within the Noun Phrase in Vietnamese. The evidence reveals that there is a set of lexical articles in Vietnamese, contrary to what has generally been assumed. Classifiers and measure phrases, often treated as belonging to a single category in prior literature, are shown to be fundamentally distinct. The properties of the emphatic particle CÁI (the “extra” CÁI) are reviewed, revealing it to be a focus marker.

Chapter 2 provides an overview of the theoretical assumptions adopted in this dissertation and a summary of prior work on functional projections in the DP across languages. In particular, four major aspects of the Vietnamese noun phrase are considered: classifier constructions, the distinction between classifiers and measure phrases, the particle CÁI, and the issue of lexical articles.

In Chapter 3, a structure is proposed for the Vietnamese DP, which is argued to contain multiple functional projections, including Classifier, Numeral, Demonstrative, and Determiner Phrases. An analysis of the distribution of numerals, classifiers, and measure phrases leads to a specific proposal about the structure in which they occur: classifiers and measure phrases are base-generated in different syntactic positions within the same phrase. The Demonstrative-final word order within the Determiner Phrase is claimed to be the result of leftward movement of a lower functional projection. A unified analysis of the typology of DPs involving demonstratives and demonstrative reinforcers across languages is presented.

In Chapter 4, the proposed analysis for Vietnamese is extended to account for word order typology across four language groups of Southeast Asia. It is demonstrated that the four attested word orders internal to DP can be derived from a single underlying structure. Minor parametric differences between languages govern the movement possibilities within DP, giving rise to the differing linear word order patterns. The dissertation concludes with a summary of findings and directions for future research.