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Title: Variation and Change in the Syntax of Relative Clauses. New evidence from Portuguese.
Authors: Cardoso, Maria Adriana Príncipe
Keywords: Indo-European Languages
Romance Languages
Issue Date: 2010
Publisher: Universidade de Lisboa
Abstract: This dissertation sheds light on language variation and change from a generative syntactic perspective, based on a case study of relative clause constructions in Portuguese and other languages. The research methodology adopted involves comparative syntax (see, e.g., Cinque and Kayne 2005), both in the diachronic and the synchronic dimensions: contemporary European Portuguese is systematically compared with earlier stages of Portuguese; moreover, Portuguese is compared with other languages, in particular Latin, English, Dutch, and Italian. Furthermore, the present research contributes to the theoretical debate on the structural analysis of three different phenomena: restrictive relatives, appositive relatives, and extraposition. Two important findings are (i) that competing theoretical analyses need not be either false or true universally, but could be instrumental in explaining language variation (both diachronically and synchronically); and (ii) simple lexical changes concerning the availability of (abstract) functional items can have dramatic consequences in the behavior of certain 'construction types' in a particular language. As for the structural analyses of relative clauses and extraposition, both Kayne’s (1994) raising analysis and De Vries’ (2006b) specifying coordination analysis proved to be central to the understanding of the issues dealt with in this dissertation. Ultimately, this dissertation demonstrates that cross-linguistic and diachronic contrasts offer invaluable means of enhancing our understanding of various linguistic phenomena, thereby contributing also to our understanding of the interaction between principles and parameters.
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