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Subjects and the clausal structure of Chinese and English

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Title: Subjects and the clausal structure of Chinese and English
Author(s): Wible, David Scott
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Cole, Peter
Department / Program: Linguistics
Discipline: Linguistics
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): Language, Linguistics
Abstract: The purpose of this dissertation is to develop explanations of some syntactic differences between Chinese and English. The core idea explored is that the absence of subject-verb agreement (i.e. Agr) in Chinese and its presence in English has wide-ranging consequences, most fundamentally in the clausal structure of the two languages. The principles and parameters framework developed in Chomsky 1981 and Chomsky 1986a,b and pursued in the works of a number of other linguists provides the overall theoretical orientation.In chapter 2 some problematic differences between Chinese and English regarding constraints on the movement of subjects are examined. An account of these facts is proposed which traces the cross-linguistic variation to a difference in the clausal structure of Chinese and English at S-structure. Specifically, subjects appear inside the VP in Chinese but outside the VP in English. This cross-linguistic difference is attributed to the demands placed on subjects in English by subject-verb agreement, demands which predictably are absent from Chinese due to its lack of agreement.Chapter 3 is a study of a variety of problems posed by the non-gap topic (NGT) construction of Chinese. It is shown that these sentences raise problems for O-theory, Case theory, and X-bar theory as well as for the ECP and notions of licensing. The analysis proposed in chapter 2 is extended to account for NGTs. It is shown how this analysis provides an explanation for the differences between Chinese and English with respect to this construction.The fourth chapter gives an account of why subjects in Italian pattern with Chinese rather than English with respect to the movement phenomena examined in chapter 2. Languages like Italian constitute a prima facie counter example to the analysis of chapter 2, which ties long distance extraction of subjects to the presence or absence of agreement in a language. It is shown that by an extension of the analysis of Chinese and English given in chapters 2 and 3, the problematic Italian facts are derived from the interaction of language-specific properties of Italian with general principles of Case theory and the ECP.
Issue Date: 1990
Type: Text
Language: English
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/21712
Rights Information: Copyright 1990 Wible, David Scott
Date Available in IDEALS: 2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog: AAI9021776
OCLC Identifier: (UMI)AAI9021776
 

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