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Title: Lazy concord in the central Ladin feminine plural DP : a case study on the interaction between morphosyntax and semantics
Authors: Rasom, Sabrina
Keywords: Indo-European Languages
Italic Languages
Romance Languages
Issue Date: 2008
Publisher: Università di Padova
Abstract: This work analyses a construction of the feminine plural DP in Central Ladin, which is particularly interesting in order to inquire DP structure and the morphosyntactic dynamics triggering agreement and concord. According to lazy concord, adjectives and modifiers in prenominal position never acquire plural marking, but only gender, whereas nouns in preadjectival position can optionally receive number features, as shown in the following examples: (a) la pìcola cèses the[+a-pl] small[+a-pl] houses[+pl+s] (b) la cèses pìcoles the[+a-pl] houses[+pl+s] small[+pl+s] (c) la cèsa pìcoles the[+a-pl] house[+a-pl] small[+pl+s] The observation of the phenomenon in question in the different contexts it can be applied, among which the interaction with quantification, the partitive particle ‘de’ and the nominal or adjectival part of nominal predicates, is at the basis of the Lazy Concord Hypothesis, which is the starting point of my research. The hypothesis predicts that lazy concord on adjectives and modifiers preceding the noun has exclusively syntactic reasons, whereas lazy concord on the noun depends on the interpretation of the adjective following it. This prediction derives from the general assumption according to which in Romance Languages the adjective has different interpretations depending on its prenominal or postnominal position. In particular, if the adjective is prenominal, it has only connotative interpretation, whereas, if it is postnominal, it can have both connotative and denotative reading. In the case of lazy concord, the strong (with number marking) or lazy (without number marking) morphology renders visible the different interpretations of postnominal adjectives. The study of lazy concord provides further evidence for Cinque’s (2005b) recent theory about a dual source of adjectives, it contributes to the study of the position of the different functional projections inside the DP, and it drives to investigate the phenomenon of nominal concord, syntactically differentiating it from the phenomenon of agreement. In particular, I propose a further morphosyntactic investigation of agreement and concord on the basis of the phenomenon inquired. Besides, the widening of the survey on lazy concord with quantification contributes to demonstrate Giusti’s (1993) hypothesis on the different projections of quantifiers inside the structure. The inquiry on lazy concord is completed by a further analysis of the phenomenon in the acquisition stages in Fassan Ladin. This new perspective allows to further survey the construction and to comprehend its morphologic dynamics: the results reveal a specific stage of children’s acquisition, where the morphology of lazy concord corresponds to the syncopation of the -s from the feminine plural morpheme -es, and not to a feminine singular ending, as it instead happens in the adults’ grammar. Therefore, the phenomenon inquired reveals particularly complex both from the syntactic and the semantic point of view: I propose that the feminine plural morpheme -es on the noun, in the varieties undergoing lazy concord, is an agglutinated compound, made by two specific features corresponding to two segments: a number and an interpretational one. At the end, I further inquire two other varieties of Northern Italy having a phenomenon similar to the one in question: Gherdener, which is a Central Ladin variety where lazy concord varies with respect to the other varieties, and Friulian, in which the morphology of lazy concord is the result of the syncopation of the only sigmatic feature from the feminine plural morpheme, -is, exactly as it happens in a specific acquisitional stage in Fassan children. This linguistic variation gives value to the final hypothesis, according to which lazy concord in Central Ladin, in Friulian and in Gherdener is the result of the same phenomenon in different linguistic stages, from a diachronic point of view. These different evolutionary stages correspond in fact to the different acquisitional stages in children. In general, this thesis aims at providing a further example of how linguistic evolution and the different aquisitional stages in children often correspond, as predicted in the Continuity Hypothesis (Pinker 1984, Crain 1991): children’s linguistic “mistakes” in the acquisitional period correspond to the differences appearing across adult grammars. This means that mistakes in acquisition would correspond to variation. Finally, the work may be an example of the fundamental importance of dialectology in the study of Universal Grammar.
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