Open-Access-Bücher zur Romanistik

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Questions in context: The case of French wh-in-situ

Aliza Glas­ber­gen-Plas

This dis­ser­ta­tion inves­ti­gates the prop­er­ties of a par­tic­u­lar type of ques­tion, name­ly wh-in-situ ques­tions in French. It exam­ines their prop­er­ties from two per­spec­tives relat­ed to the con­text in which a ques­tion is uttered. These are (a) the infor­ma­tion struc­ture of the sen­tence, specif­i­cal­ly focus and given­ness, and (b) the dis­tinc­tion between reg­u­lar infor­ma­tion seek­ing ques­tions and echo questions.An impor­tant result is the insight that French has two mech­a­nisms to inter­pret wh-in-situ ques­tions, yield­ing poten­tial­ly iden­ti­cal look­ing ques­tions with dif­fer­ent prop­er­ties. While cer­tain speak­ers only have one of these mech­a­nisms to inter­pret wh-in-situ ques­tions in their gram­mar, oth­ers, often younger speak­ers, have both. This explains much of the data con­fu­sion regard­ing the prop­er­ties of French wh-in-situ questions.The inves­ti­ga­tion also pro­vides more gen­er­al insights into the rela­tion between wh-ques­tions and aspects of the pre­ced­ing con­text. While it is often assumed that the focus in wh-ques­tions nec­es­sar­i­ly equals the wh-phrase, the dis­ser­ta­tion shows exper­i­men­tal­ly that this is not the case in all lan­guages. In lan­guages like French, what is focused may depend on the pre­ced­ing con­text, as in declar­a­tives. The dis­ser­ta­tion also sug­gests a direc­tion of research for con­tex­tu­al­ly restrict­ed wh-in-situ in wh-fronting lan­guages like Eng­lish and Ger­man.

Complementizers on edge: On the boundaries between syntax and pragmatics in Ibero-Romance

Anna Kocher &

This book offers a com­par­a­tive per­spec­tive on the struc­tur­al and inter­pre­tive prop­er­ties of root-clause com­ple­men­tiz­ers in Ibero-Romance. The dri­ving ques­tion the author seeks to answer is where the bound­aries between syn­tax and prag­mat­ics lie in these lan­guages. Con­trary to most pre­vi­ous work on these phe­nom­e­na, the author argues in favor of a rel­a­tive­ly strict dis­tri­b­u­tion of labor between the two com­po­nents of gram­mar. The first part of the book is devot­ed to root com­ple­men­tiz­ers with a repor­ta­tive inter­pre­ta­tion. The sec­ond part deals with root com­ple­men­tiz­ers and com­mit­ment attri­bu­tion. Final­ly, the last part presents the results of empir­i­cal stud­ies on the top­ic.

Missing person: Structure and change in Romance demonstratives

Sil­via Terenghi

Lan­guages encode deic­tic infor­ma­tion in their demon­stra­tive sys­tems, but exact­ly which infor­ma­tion is encod­ed is a mat­ter of vari­a­tion. The present dis­ser­ta­tion explores this vari­a­tion, with spe­cial atten­tion to Romance demon­stra­tive sys­tems, and does so from both a syn­chron­ic and a diachron­ic per­spec­tive.

Syn­chron­i­cal­ly, the focus is on how the attest­ed cross-lin­guis­tic dif­fer­ences can be for­malised in fea­t­ur­al and, more broad­ly, syn­tac­tic terms. This line of inves­ti­ga­tion results in the pro­pos­al of a nov­el inter­nal struc­ture for demon­stra­tive ele­ments that ties togeth­er a low­er per­son-based com­po­nent and a high­er spa­tial-based one, over­com­ing the clas­si­cal dichoto­my between the two and afford­ing the sys­tem a larg­er empir­i­cal cov­er­age. Diachron­i­cal­ly, the focus is on how the inven­to­ry of con­trastive demon­stra­tive forms changes in the dif­fer­ent (micro-)diachronic stages of a giv­en lan­guage, and more con­crete­ly on how it shrinks and why. Inter­est­ing­ly, this change only involves demon­stra­tive forms, but not oth­er deic­tic cat­e­gories (per­son­al pro­nouns, pos­ses­sive forms, etc.).

Based on nov­el gen­er­al­i­sa­tions con­cern­ing the pat­terns of change attest­ed across Romance demon­stra­tives and on the con­clu­sions drawn from the syn­chron­ic inves­ti­ga­tions, this work pro­pos­es that larg­er demon­stra­tive sys­tems are unsta­ble because of their fea­t­ur­al com­plex­i­ty. The lat­ter hinges on a bias towards monot­o­n­ic deriva­tions, which trig­gers fea­ture loss and results in a small­er inven­to­ry of demon­stra­tive forms. Addi­tion­al­ly, a struc­tur­al con­di­tion on fea­ture loss is iden­ti­fied (as for­malised in the Last in–First out prin­ci­ple), which accounts for the con­crete pat­terns of reduc­tion and for the asym­me­try between demon­stra­tive sys­tems (unsta­ble) and oth­er index­i­cal sys­tems (sta­ble).

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