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Title: Syntax of adverb distribution
Author: Edelstein, Elspeth Claire
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2012
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The distribution of adverbs is particularly difficult to account for, given the amount of variation it encompasses. Not only are adverbs typically optional, but any adverb may also appear in several different positions relative to other constituents, with placement differing according to adverb type and language. As a result, although adverbs are not essential clausal mainstays, the way they are incorporated into the syntax has crucial implications for an overall understanding of clause structure. Some recent accounts of adverb distribution, most notably Cinque (1999), require a highly articulated clausal cartography, where each adverb fits into a specific syntactic position. The placement of adverbs is determined by their semantic properties inasmuch as their specified positions correspond to semantic classes. The ordering of these positions is syntactically predetermined, supposedly with no little or no semantic input. More semantics-based accounts of adverb distribution, as exemplified by Ernst (2002), do not restrict adverbs to specific positions. Rather, any adverb may adjoin to any projection, as long as its individual semantic requirements are satisfied. Such theories of distribution thus depend on adverbs’ semantic interactions with each other and other constituents. The differences between these ‘syntactic’ and ‘semantic’ approaches have led to questions about the nature of verb movement, functional projections, and adjunction. The debate over adverb distribution also raises the issue of what contribution semantics makes to the syntax, and what is syntactically primitive. The aim of this dissertation is to develop an account of adverb distribution that neither requires the introduction of new functional projections, nor attempts to shoehorn an external semantic hierarchy onto a pre-existing syntactic one. It will focus on the position of adverbs in relation to other constituents rather than their order with respect to each other. In this thesis I will review previous theories of adverb distribution, giving special attention to Cinque’s (1999) ‘functional specifier’ approach and Ernst’s (2002) ‘semantic adjunction’ approach, as well as some alternatives, especially the VP-remnant analysis proposed in Nilsen (2003). I will then look at the little-discussed phenomenon of ‘Adverb Climbing’ (AC), in which an adverb precedes a verb that takes an infinitival complement, but is interpreted as modifying the embedded rather than the matrix verb. Taking the varying availability of AC with Control and Raising verbs as a starting point, I will develop a theory of adverb licensing that determines where an adverb may adjoin according to its location in relation to a particular projection. Specifically, I will propose that an adverb must c-command the projection it modifies, and must have access to that projection either in the same phase or at the edge of a lower phase. Based on this analysis I will argue that AC is in fact an indicator of restructuring, and that control and raising verbs take different sizes of infinitival complement. I will also examine the distribution of ‘verb-modifying’ adverbs. Drawing on previous ‘split VP’ proposals (e.g. Ramchand 2008; Travis (2010)), I will contend that the varying distribution of agentive, subject-oriented, and manner adverbs indicates that each is distributed in relation to a different projection within the vP, and that some postverbal adverbs are complements of VP. This proposal will require the introduction of crosslinguistically parameterised restrictions on the order in which adverbs and feature-checking elements may be merged to a single projection. Moreover, I will argue that the array of positions available to agentive adverbs indicates that English has head movement within the vP which bypasses a head, violating Travis’s (1984) Head Movement Constraint (HMC). I will then posit a new analysis of head movement which allows for this violation while still precluding the instances of ungrammaticality that the HMC was meant to rule out. I will finally discuss the distribution of adverbs and negation in the IP range, giving special attention to Pollock’s (1989) classic data from English and French. I will develop an analysis of negation which will allow me to explain the distribution of both sentential adverbs and negation without splitting the IP. Further refinement of the ordering restrictions on multiple merge will also provide an explanation for the ungrammaticality of an adverb between a subject and the highest verb in French, and between do and not in English. This dissertation will serve to situate the study of adverb distributionwithin Chomsky’s (1995) Minimalist framework while providing fresh insight into the extent to which adverb distribution may be used as an indicator of clause structure and movement of other constituents.
Supervisor: Heycock, Caroline; Ackema, Peter Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: syntax ; adverbs ; minimalism