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|Title:||Encoding of argument structure in Romanian and SiSwati|
|Publisher:||King's College, University of London|
|Abstract:||This dissertation provides a comparative analysis of the function played by Romanian weak (clitic) pronouns and Siswati object markers in the encoding of argument structure. The central claim is that both weak pronouns in Romanian as well as object (and subject) markers in Siswati are pronominal signs which satisfy the syntactic as well as the semantic requirements of the verbal sign they combine with. The basic assumptions are that (i) formal rules operate on tuples of strings, rather than strings, (ii) semantic rules identify predicate placeholders by their restriction on the construal of the saturating argument, and (iii) the relation between syntactic and semantic structure is exhaustively characterised by pairing formal and semantic rules. The structure of the Romanian verb cluster is analysed in terms of rules which operate on the exponent, categorial and semantic levels simultaneously. Preverbal and postverbal accusative weak pronouns are generated by rules having the same category function (resulting in identical phrase structures), but different exponent functions (resulting in different word orders). The exponent and categorial functions correspond to simple Literal Movement Grammar rules and are thus parsable in polynomial time. The meaning of a weak pronoun can be saturated by the meaning of a direct object sign with matching formal features. Non-local direct object signs are combined with a verb before this verb is embedded – the argument combines with the predicate, while the concatenation of their strings is deferred. Following Cognitive Grammar, I assume that linguistic expressions encode both conceptual content and the speaker’s construal of this content. The morphosyntactic realisation of an argument depends mainly on its construal. Arguments are construed asymmetrically as figure, ground, background or oblique. The various valency changing constructions in Siswati are analysed in terms of modes which change not only the conceptual content, but also the construal restrictions associated with the placeholders of the predicate. Subject and object markers are analysed as pronominal signs whose meanings saturate the placeholders restricted to figure and ground arguments respectively. The central claim is compared with and defended against (i) the claim that weak pronouns are the phonological realisation of syntactic features (and thus are not signs) and (ii) the claim that subject markers which co-occur with a coreferent NP sign have lost their semantic value and are therefore merely formal agreement devices.|
|Appears in Collections:||Dissertations (restricted access)|
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