Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/11707/3851
Title: The Morphosyntax of Subjects in Macuiltianguis Zapotec
Authors: Foreman, John Olen
Keywords: American Indigenous Languages (Northern)
Otomanguean Languages
Macuiltianguis Zapotec
Issue Date: 2006
Publisher: UCLA
Abstract: Several Zapotec languages (VSO Oto-Manguean languages of Oaxaca, Mexico) exhibit a typologically unusual backward binding construction in which a null subject is licensed when it is coreferential with a possessor embedded inside some following DP object argument (see Butler 1976, Black 2000, Avelino 2004, Avelino, et al. 2004, Foreman 2004, and Sonnenschein 2004). Within such a configuration, the possessor neither precedes nor c-commands the grammatical subject. Such structures pose a major challenge for Binding Theory (Chomsky 1981, 1986) and other theories of anaphora. Recent developments within the Minimalist framework (Chomsky 1995), however, provide new insights into the structure of this construction, which I label Covert Subject Binding. In this dissertation, I investigate CSB as it appears in Macuiltianguis Zapotec (MacZ). As the language has not been previously documented, I first present an overview of various aspects of the grammar that are useful in understanding CSB. I then explore the properties of canonical (overt) nominative subjects, developing diagnostics that can be applied to CSB. As a test case, I first apply the diagnostics to dative subjects, confirming their subject status. I then use the diagnostics to distinguish true genitive subjects, which are superficially similar to CSB, from actual instances of CSB. I then pursue a covert movement account of CSB. Under my analysis, copies at Spell-Out occupy the possessor position, the thematic subject position, and the structural subject position in [Spec,TP]. In the case of CSB, PF resolves the movement chain in favor of the lowest link, the grammatical possessor. To accomplish this, I follow Polinsky and Potsdam (2002) in adopting Hornstein's (1999) treatment of theta-roles as features, which can trigger DP movement from one theta-position to another. I propose that the relative strength of a copy is determined by the strength of the features it satisfies. Weak features produce weak copies and strong features produce strong copies. The PF component is then able to evaluate a movement chain to determine which link should be pronounced. If theta-features along with nominative case features and Dfeatures are weak then the movement will be covert, yielding a CSB structure.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/11707/3851
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