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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: Clausal Architecture and Subject Positions: Impersonal constructions in the Germanic languages Add Dissertation
Author: Sabine Mohr Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Universität Stuttgart, Department of Linguistics and English
Completed in: 2004
Linguistic Subfield(s): Syntax;
Subject Language(s): Dutch
Norwegian Bokmål
Language Family(ies): Germanic
Director(s): Ian Roberts
Anders Holmberg
Artemis Alexiadou

Abstract: This thesis consists of two major parts, a theoretical one and a practical one.

In the theoretical part I suggest a universal, head-initial clausal architecture for both VO- and OV-languages, whose most important characteristics are the following. All direct objects are merged in SpecVP, there are at least two subject positions in the Split IP and definite subjects obligatorily have to move to the higher one, Verb Second clauses always involve the realisation of a phrase of the Split CP, different word orders are due to an interplay between different head- and XP-movements and checking conditions.

Another central topic is the question of the status of the EPP (which was originally formulated as the requirement that every clause must have a subject) in a system with several subject positions. I argue that the EPP-feature’s only task is to make sure that every instance of head-movement is immediately followed by merge or move of an XP so that head-movement meets the New Extension Condition which reintroduces head-movement as a narrow syntactic operation.

In the practical part I analyse thetic constructions (especially Transitive Expletive Constructions), impersonal passives, weather verb constructions and impersonal psych verb constructions in German, Dutch, English, Icelandic and the Mainland Scandinavian languages against the background of the theoretical framework developed in part 1. I argue that the differences in the distribution of the 'expletive' elements in the impersonal constructions in the various languages – and the (un-)grammaticality of these constructions in the first place – is due to the fact that the languages employ different 'expletive' elements. The latter include featureless pure expletives, event arguments which carry a [+specific] feature and quasi-arguments which are associated with a [+specific] feature and a Nominative Case feature but not expletive pro whose existence I contest. The different features require these elements to show up in or pass through different positions and therefore account for word order
differences and correlations like the presence or absence of a Definiteness Effect.