Spelling Out the Noun Phrase: Interpretation, Word Order, and the Problem of `Meaningless Movement'
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis is an investigation of the nature of the syntax-semantics and syntaxphonology interfaces, focusing on the noun phrase. It is argued that, under the assumption that the mapping between syntax and semantics is homomorphic, employing movement operations which do not have semantic effects as an explanatory tool for understanding word-order variation cross-linguistically is undesirable. I argue for the non-existence of head movement as a narrow syntactic operation, on the grounds that it does not produce semantic effects, and I explain apparent head movement effects in terms of the nature of the spell-out operation which maps syntactic structure to phonology. A Direct Linearization theory is proposed in which word-order effects purported to be the result of movement can be derived without appeal to any narrow syntactic operations; the explanatory burden shifts onto the mapping from syntax to phonology, which allows more than one head in a continuous complement line to be spelled out as a single morphological unit; morphological words can spell out at different positions along the extended projection of a root, giving rise to word order variation. I support these claims with two empirical case studies: 1. A study of the interpretation of different noun phrase configurations in Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese shows that the spell-out system proposed in the thesis has better empirical coverage than an analysis which relies on head movement or phrasal movement; 2. An extension to a broader typology of classifier languages shows that the spell-out system proposed can capture an interesting generalization about the licensing of definite interpretations and definite morphology across classifier languages, and that word order variation among DP internal elements (Demonstrative, Numeral, Classifier, Adjective and Noun) in those languages can be derived without recourse to phrasal movement (where that movement has no interpretive effects).
- Theses