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Title: The Functional Structure of Deverbal Nominals in German
Authors: Kleemann-Kr amer, Anja Christina
Keywords: Indo-European Languages
Germanic Languages
Issue Date: 2009
Publisher: Queen Mary, University of London
Abstract: This thesis provides new evidence supporting the syntactic approach to deverbal nominals. Recently, various arguments have been advanced in favour of postulating the presence of a VP projection plus event related functional structure within a subset of deverbal nominals, so-called AS-nominals. It has been argued that the presence of such a complex syntactic functional structure correlates with the presence of event and argument structure. Cross-linguistic evidence comes from the compatibility of AS-nominals with aspectual modifiers, adverbs and accusative case assignment. This thesis argues that further evidence comes from two independent areas: (i) quantity properties and (ii) the distribution of focus particles. The domain of inquiry are AS-nominals in German. Chapter 3 examines the syntax of quantity of AS-nominals. It departs from the standard view in the literature that AS-nominals are mass nouns by showing that the latter are neutral with respect to the mass-count distinction. It derives the exceptional quantity properties of AS-nominals from the complementary distribution of the nominal functional projection giving rise to the count-mass distinction (the classifier phrase CLP) and the verbal functional projection encoding aspectual properties (the aspect phrase AspP). Chapters 4 and 5 deal with the syntax of focus-sensitive particles in German. Chapter 4 demonstrates that focus particles are barred within ordinary nominals but not within AS-nominals, which are exceptional in allowing . . . N (FPrt) DP (FPrt) . . . sequences. This is due to the fact that only AS-nominals contain a verbal structure (AspP and VP) and hence adjunction sites for adverbial focus particles. Chapter 6 focuses on the semantics of the German focus particle nur, ‘only’. It provides evidence that there are two kinds of nur which are pragmatically unified but syntactically distinct. This thesis demonstrates the utility of decomposing structure into nominal and verbal functional layers as a way of explaining the intricate interactions of syntax, morphology, semantics and pragmatics.
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