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Title: Lexical conditions in syntactic knowledge : auxiliary selection in native and non-native grammars of Italian
Author: Sorace, Antonella
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1993
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This study has both a theoretical and a methodological dimension. Theoretically, it is concerned with variation and indeterminacy in linguistic acceptability judgments. Methodologically, it involves the application of a rigorous procedure for the elicitation of judgment data that is sensitive to informants' variable or indeterminate intuitions. The theoretical focus is on the linguistic intuitions of native and non-native speakers of Italian about a number of grammatical phenomena related to the choice between the auxiliaries ESSERE ('be') and AVERE ('have') with non-transitive (unaccusative and unergative) verbs. It is argued that a purely syntactic account of unaccusativity is insufficient to capture the variation exhibited by these verbs. In particular, it is claimed that the unmarked selection of ESSERE with unaccusatives and of AVERE with unergatives in the present perfect tense is sensitive not only to a hierarchy of syntactic configurations (as assumed by the Government-Binding version of the Unaccusativity Hypothesis) but also to lexical hierarchies that subdivide the range of unaccusative and unergative verbs along semantic dimensions. Such hierarchies distinguish 'core', or prototypical, types of verbs from peripheral ones, and are consistent with the historical evolution of auxiliaries in Romance. However, auxiliary selection in syntactically marked 'restructuring' constructions, induced by certain Raising and Control verbs, is not sensitive to these semantic dimensions. It was predicted that the interaction between syntactic and semantic constraints would give rise to systematic variability in native speakers' linguistic intuitions, manifested in consistent and determinate acceptability judgments on core types of verbs, and variable or indeterminate judgments on peripheral types of verbs. It was also predicted that non-natives would differ from natives in terms of the extent to which indeterminate judgments penetrated from the periphery to the core.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available