UCL Discovery
UCL home » Library Services » Electronic resources » UCL Discovery

Phrase structure and derived heads

Bury, Dirk; (2003) Phrase structure and derived heads. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

[thumbnail of out.pdf] Text

Download (7MB)


This dissertation investigates the theory of phrase structure in the field of generative grammar. In chapter 1, I propose a new model of phrase structure representations and argue for its conceptual advantages over alternative models, in chapters 2 to 4, I discuss the advantages of this model for the analyses of various empirical phenomena. Chapter 5 is the conclusion. The proposal is based on two central claims. First, I argue that a moved verb can be the head of its clause, and hence that verb movement can extend a structure (Ackema, Neeleman and Weerman 1993). (This is a rejection of the widely held view that it is always the target of movement that projects; cf. Chomsky 1995.) Since verb movement is not universal, it then follows that syntactic representations are not identical for all languages. This means that the clause structure of a particular language must be learnable, i.e. that the availability of categories without overt realization is highly restricted. In particular, there can be no phonetically empty categories that are not licensed configurationally and that do not receive a semantic interpretation. Second, I argue that phrase structure should not be thought of in terms of tree diagrams but rather in terms of sets that express dominance relations between categories. This is a radical implementation of the widely held view that linear order is not a property of syntax proper ("the computation of LF") but of the mapping of syntactic structures to the phonological level of representation PF. One result of this approach to phrase structure is that there is no need for categorial projection (cf. Brody 2000). Chapter 2 analyses the phenomenon of complementizer optionality and its relation to verb movement and adjunction, as well as related problems from English, Italian, and German (e.g. "embedded verb-second"). Chapter 3 investigates subject-verb inversion in verb-second languages and verb-first languages. This involves a discussion of Breton, Modern Welsh, and German, and of the change from verb-second in Middle Welsh to verb-first in Modem Welsh. Chapter 4 investigates free relative clauses in English and (dialects of) German.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Phrase structure and derived heads
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Language, literature and linguistics; Phrase structure
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10101460
Downloads since deposit
Download activity - last month
Download activity - last 12 months
Downloads by country - last 12 months

Archive Staff Only

View Item View Item