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Title: Topics in the syntax of nominal structures across Romance
Authors: Bernstein, Judy
Keywords: Indo-European Languages
Romance Languages
Issue Date: 1993
Publisher: City University of New York
Abstract: This thesis investigates the syntactic significance of nominal word order and agreement patterns in modern Romance languages. The data included in this study are from several well-studied Romance languages, as well as from several varieties that have received little attention in the theoretical literature. In the major Romance languages, adjectives generally follow the noun. A small group of adjectives, however; necessarily precede the noun, and still others may either precede or follow the noun, the difference in position generally associated with a difference in interpretation. It is assumed (following recent proposals in the literature) that adjectives in Romance are underlyingly prenominal and that the unmarked postnominal surface position is derived by syntactic movement of the noun across the adjective. The full range of facts is accounted for by a proposal distinguishing two syntactic classes of adjectives. Whether an adjective belongs to one or the other class determines whether it may be modified, appear predicatively, and appear in elliptical constructions. Another area explored is ellipsis in the Romance noun phrase. The specific constructions of interest consist of an indefinite or definite article plus an adjective. It is suggested that the terminal vowels appearing on Italian and Spanish nouns may be generated independent of a lexical noun stem, and that this element is able to license the empty projection corresponding to the elided noun in indefinite constructions. The pattern found in Catalan, although superficially distinct, may also be accommodated by the general proposal. For the definite construction, which is shown to contrast with the indefinite one, it is argued that the definite article functions as a subordinator for a predicative adjective phrase, licensing the phrase as an argument. The fact that adjectives are overwhelmingly prenominal in Walloon supports the idea that the underlying order in Romance is adjective-noun. The position of adjectives in Walloon, coupled with the fact that Walloon nouns are unmarked for plural, argue that Walloon nouns never become amalgamated with a plural marker. Instead, the distribution of an agreement affix associated with adjectives suggests that the affix is really a nominal plural marker. The significance of variation across Walloon dialects is also explored.
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