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Title: The Clause Structure of Malagasy: A Minimalist Approach
Authors: Pearson, Joel Matthew
Keywords: Austronesian Languages
Malayo-Polynesian Languages
Malagasy Languages
Issue Date: 2001
Publisher: University of California, Los Angeles
Abstract: This dissertation explores the clause structure and word order of Malagasy within the framework of Chomsky’s (1995) Minimalist Program and Kayne’s (1994) Antisymmetry proposals. In particular, I focus on the status of the clause-final external argument (ea), conventionally analyzed as a nominative case-marked subject. I consider two major questions about the ea : What position does it occupy in the clause structure, and why is it spelled out in a right-peripheral position, following the predicate? With regard to its syntactic status, I argue that the EA is not a subject, but a topic, similar in its distribution to fronted topics in verb-second languages like Icelandic. I propose that Eas undergo A'-movement to the specifier of a TopP (topic phrase) projection, located above TP and below the position of the complementizer. Concerning word order, I show that the right-peripheral position of the EA can be derived via leftward movement of the predicate phrase, in a manner consistent with Kayne’s Linear Correspondence Axiom. I suggest that predicate-fronting is triggered by the same lexical requirements responsible for T-to-C raising in Icelandic and other languages, except that in Malagasy, T°-movement is unavailable for independent reasons, and so TP-movement is employed instead. Malagasy word order may thus be regarded as the phrasal-movement analogue of verb-second order. The dissertation is divided into four chapters. In chapter 1 I summarize my analysis and discuss my theoretical assumptions. In chapter 2 I give an overview of Malagasy word order, clause structure, and morphology. I also offer a speculative treatment of the Malagasy voicing system, which I equate with wh-agreement in Chamorro and other languages. In chapter 3 I present evidence from binding, reconstruction, and locality to show that the ea position behaves as an A'-position rather than a case position, strongly suggesting that the ea is a topic-like element rather than a subject. I also provide a novel analysis of the well-known ‘subject-only’ extraction restriction. Finally in chapter 4 1 discuss my XP-movement analysis of EA-final word order. I cite evidence in favor of this analysis from two domains, particle placement and word order in embedded clauses.
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