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Title: The Morpho-Syntax of the Germanic Noun Phrase: Determiners Move into the Determiners Phrase
Authors: Roehrs, Dorian
Keywords: Indo-European Languages
Germanic Languages
Issue Date: 2006
Publisher: Indiana University
Abstract: Clausal auxiliaries exhibit agreement and undergo movement. This dissertation proposes that determiners are nominal auxiliaries. Also showing agreement, demonstratives and (in-)definite articles are argued to be base-generated in an article phrase (artP) above the theta domain of nouns and below adjectives, and subsequently undergo movement to the determiner phrase (DP) to value features on D. Three main arguments are provided for this proposal. Chapter 2 discusses the syntactic distribution of the definite article in the Scandinavian languages from a diachronic and synchronic point of view. Interpreting adjectives as interveners for long-distance agreement between DP and artP, languages are proposed to vary in the way they circumvent this blocking effect. While Old Icelandic and Danish move the determiner to the left periphery overtly, (common) Modern Icelandic does so covertly. After demonstrating that the two determiners in Faroese, Norwegian, and Swedish have different semantic import, I propose that these languages move one part of their determiner to the left while stranding the other in situ. Chapter 3 deals with the semantic distribution of the determiner. Interpreting determiners as scope-bearing elements, I propose that, when modifiers are in their scope, they are restrictive in interpretation, and, when not, they are non-restrictive. Specifically, assuming movement of the determiner, the restrictive reading of adjectives is explained by interpreting the determiner in its derived position and the non-restrictive reading follows from interpreting the determiner in its base-position. Chapter 4 considers some morphological consequences of this proposal for German. Concentrating on the weak/strong alternation of adjective endings, I propose that the strong ending is licensed on the highest (appropriate) element in the DP at the time the noun phrase is merged into the clause. The weak ending is argued to be a default option. Exceptions to this pattern follow from the assumption that certain determiners may move to the DP at different times. This discussion is then extended to morphological alternations in split NPs and pronominal DPs. More generally, making the assumption that determiners are nominal auxiliaries that move to the left, these syntactic, semantic, and morphological phenomena, although apparently unrelated, find a uniform account.
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