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Basque and Romance

Aligning Grammars

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Edited by Ane Berro, Fernández Beatriz and Jon Ortiz de Urbina

Aligning Grammars: Basque and Romance is a collection of articles describing and analyzing several of the most important morphosyntactic features for which the formal comparison between Basque and its surrounding Romance languages is relevant, such as word order, inflection, case, argument structure and causatives. In the context of a language virtually all of whose speakers are bilingual in either Spanish or French, the theoretically informed in-depth description offered in this volume focuses on the fine grain of linguistic structures from languages typologically quite apart but coexisting and probably interacting in the minds of speakers. It therefore aims at shedding some light on the types of interactions between different systems and on the systems themselves.
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Edited by Léa Nash and Pollet Samvelian

Complex predicates can be loosely defined as a sequence of items that behave as a single predicate, projecting a single argument structure within a clause. Each of the members of the predicate contributes part of the information ordinarily associated with a single head.
The present volume presents a collection of theoretical linguistic results on the study of complex predicates in different perspectives and with a variety of approaches. Important empirical and theoretical issues cutting across various subfields of linguistics are being addressed in this book, such as :
• Syntactic and semantic modeling of complex predicate formation: compositionality, argument structure, event structure.
• Differences between syntactic and morphological processes of lexeme formation.
• Typological and diachronic issues in complex predicate formation.
• Neo-Davidsonian analyses of abstract predicate decomposition and its morphological correlates

Contributors are: Ane Berro, Denis Creissels, Hannah Gibson, Adele Goldberg, Lutz Marten, Annie Montaut, Léa Nash, Pooja Paul, Pollet Samvelian, Peter Svenonius, and Susanne Wurmbrand.

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Hannah Gibson and Lutz Marten

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Many Bantu languages have a system of complex verbal constructions, where several verbal forms combine to describe a single event. Typically, these consist of an auxiliary and a main verb, and often tense-aspect marking and subject agreement is found on both forms. In this paper we develop a parsing-based, Dynamic Syntax analysis of complex verbal constructions in three Bantu languages—Swahili, Rangi and siSwati—and show how concepts of structural underspecification, accumulation of information and contextual update can be harnessed to explain the use of several verbal forms for the building of one semantic structure. At the heart of the analysis is the idea that structure established early in the parse can be ‘re-built’ from subsequent lexical input as long as incrementality and information growth are respected. This correctly predicts the accumulation of tense-aspect information and the fact that multiple subject markers have to be interpreted identically, while maintaining a uniform pronominal analysis of Bantu subject markers. From a comparative perspective, we show that complex verbal constructions result from processes of grammaticalisation, and, especially with reference to the extensive auxiliary system of siSwati, we sketch different processes of lexical change underlying the stages of the grammaticalisation process.

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Denis Creissels

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The Obligatory Coding Principle accounts for the inventories of possible coding frames in languages that, according to the current terminology, can be characterized as consistently accusative or consistently ergative in their system of argument coding. In coding frame inventories fully consistent with the Obligtory Coding principle, every coding frame includes a given type of coding, either A (in obligatory A coding languages) or P (in obligatory P coding languages). However, languages with coding frame inventories violating this principle are not exceptional. This paper examines the questions raised by light verb constructions with respect to the Obligatory Coding Principle, in particular the possible impact of the univerbation of light verb constructions on argument coding systems initially consistent with the principle or obligatory P coding. The discussion is based on an analysis of the role of the univerbation of light verb compounds in the changes that have affected the situation of Basque with respect to the Obligatory Coding Principle, and a comparison of the situation of Basque with that of Andic languages (East Caucasian).

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Adele E. Goldberg

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The present work investigates English verb particle combinations (e.g., put on) and argues that item-specific and general information are needed and should be related within a default inheritance hierarchy. When verb particle combinations appear within verb phrases, a tripartite phrasal syntax is defended, whether or not the V and P are adjacent (e.g., She put on the wrong shoes; she put the wrong shoes on). The < V NP P > order is motivated as the default word order by explicitly relating a verb-particle construction to the caused-motion construction (e.g., she put the shoes on her feet). Well-known and independently needed processing considerations related to complement length, information status, and semantics motivate system-wide generalizations that can serve to override the default word order. Lexical verb-particle combinations (e.g., a pickup truck; a showdown) and an idiomatic case, V-off are also briefly discussed as providing further evidence for the need for both item-specific and more general constructions.

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Annie Montaut

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Verbo-nominal complex predicates, the bulk of the Hindi predicate lexicon, a highly heterogeneous category regarding compositionality and idiomaticity, can however be sub-classified in three types regarding agreement, internal and external syntax, separability, omissibility, extraction and acceptable modifiers. However, in spite of the highly heterogeneous nature of the category, they behave similarly in widening the scope of Aktionsart, aspect and voice specifications in comparison to the grammatical markers of TAM in simplex predicates. The most important fact deals with the diachronic evolution of the language. All sub-types of complex predicates, massively introduced during the renewal of the verbal lexicon by means of borrowing, have contributed to a general shift towards semantic alignments by licensing non-canonical subjects, mainly dative and genitive subject constructions.

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Pooja Paul

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This paper argues for a faithful mapping between event/argument structure and morphosyntactic structure in Malayalam. The empirical focus of this article is the distribution of the verb ceyy- ‘do’ in a subset of coordinate constructions in the language, specifically VP coordinations involving action verbs. Under our account, this ceyy- serves to resolve a conflict between a morphological constraint (Stray Affix Filter, Lasnik 1981, 1997) on the one hand, and a syntactic constraint on movement out of coordinate structures (Coordinate Structure Constraint Ross 1967) on the other, making its overt appearance “last resort”. However, in spite of similarities with do-support in English, we find that formal accounts for the latter (Chomsky 1957, 1991, et. seq; Halle & Marantz 1993; a.o.) fall short of explaining the Malayalam facts. In our modified account, we claim that this ceyy- is the phonological realization of an Agent-introducing functional head in the sub-lexical structure of Malayalam action verbs (e.g. kick, eat, push). We motivate the selective presence of such a functional head in action-sentences and not statives by appealing to differences in their respective underlying argument- and event-structures, a distinction strongly argued for in the neo-Davidsonian literature, and now well-established within mainstream linguistic theory. Our evidence for the crucial role of syntactic and semantic factors in accounting for Malayalam ceyy-support challenges the widely-accepted formalization of do-support as a necessarily post-syntactic operation.

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Léa Nash and Pollet Samvelian

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Léa Nash and Pollet Samvelian

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Léa Nash and Pollet Samvelian