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Information structure of argument order alternations

Titov, E; (2012) Information structure of argument order alternations. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis is concerned with NP/DP argument reordering and the question of what licenses it formally and interpretatively. Its primary focus is on the syntax of Russian. It is argued that two types of reordering exist, with each type linked to a distinct interpretative effect and involving a distinct syntactic process. More specifically, neutral reordering is licensed by the encoding of relative interpretative argument prominence, which requires linear precedence of an interpretatively prominent argument with respect to a non-prominent argument. The relative interpretative prominence of arguments is argued to be established on the basis of a variety of cognitive interpretations, with languages varying as to how many of these interpretations are required to license neutral reordering of arguments. In Russian, this type of reordering is claimed to exhibit properties of A-scrambling and to favour an analysis that refers to a variation in the base-component. It is argued that the availability of neutral reordering of arguments cross-linguistically is reliant on the type of prominence, thematic or information-structural, that a language encodes via syntactic structure. When thematic and information-structural prominence relations do not coincide, only one of them can be structurally/linearly represented. The relation that is not structurally/linearly encoded must be made visible at the PF interface either via prosody or morphology. The second type of argument reordering is argued to be licensed by a restriction of the set of syntactic constituents included in the scope of pragmatic quantification. This type of reordering is shown to exhibit properties of A’-scrambling. Various categories that involve different types of pragmatic quantification are considered. It is demonstrated that an A-scrambled structure licensed by the relative argument prominence encoding can serve as input for an A’-scrambled structure as long as one of the arguments involves quantification over a pragmatic set of alternatives. The proposals advanced in this thesis resolve a number of long-standing controversies concerning the properties of Russian A- and A’-scrambling.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Information structure of argument order alternations
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: Information structure, Russian syntax, scrambling
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1370567
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