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Subordinating and Coordinating Linkers

Philip, JN; (2012) Subordinating and Coordinating Linkers. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis is concerned with syntactic mechanisms for the marking of grammatical relationships. It is argued that there is a class of semantically vacuous functional heads serving only as a syntactic means of marking such relationships – either subordination or coordination. These heads are known as linkers. Through studying restrictions on the structural and linear distribution of linkers cross-linguistically, the thesis sheds light on varied areas of syntax: the nature of projection in morphology and syntax; word order principles; and the place of coordinate structures within phrasestructure principles. The morphosyntax provides two possible mechanisms for marking a grammatical relationship. Firstly, an affix marking the relationship can attach directly to any member of the relationship. This member of the relationship then enters the syntactic derivation, but the affix has no syntactic status in its own right. Alternatively, the relationship can be marked by a syntactic object in its own right – a semantically vacuous projecting functional head (a linker). In this latter case, the relationship is marked by the linker structurally intervening between the members of the relationship: its projection must dominate one member, and cannot dominate the others. When combined with principles of extended projection, this leads to the restriction that, in marking a subordination, or Head-Dependent, relationship, such linkers can only appear as the highest head in the extended projection of the Dependent. This prediction is tested empirically by determining the possible distribution and constituency of linkers predominantly in the complex noun phrase. We next consider how the structural distribution of linkers is mapped onto linear order. It is proposed that there are two types of word order constraints available in natural language: those relating to harmony, which are universal and obey a fixed ranking; and those referring to specific features of a head – either lexical category or features referring to semantics. Given their status as semantically vacuous functional heads, only the first type of word order constraint, relating to harmony, applies to linkers. It is shown using Optimality Theory that this theory successfully accounts for the absence of certain disharmonic word orders cross-linguistically. Finally, we consider the implications of the restrictions on the structural and linear distribution of linkers for linkers marking the coordination relationship (that is, syntactically independent coordinators). It is argued that coordination is a symmetric structure, headed by a potentially infinite number of coordinands. It is shown that any difference in the distribution of coordinating and subordinating linkers should be attributed to the unique syntax of the coordinate structure.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Subordinating and Coordinating Linkers
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English

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