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Title: Semi-lexical heads in Czech modal structures
Author: Kyncl, Jaroslav
ISNI:       0000 0001 3603 3873
Awarding Body: University of Wolverhampton
Current Institution: University of Wolverhampton
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis argues for a semi-lexical interpretation of Czech modal verbs. It demonstrates that Czech modals participate in syntactic structures that contain a finite verb followed by multiple infinitives (verb clusters), such as Jan musel chtít začít studovat lingvistiku ‘John had to want to begin studying linguistics.’ The term Complex Verbal Domain (CVD) is devised for the verbal part of these structures. The analysis seeks to offer a unified account of modal verbs in Czech in respect of their subcategorization frame in the Lexicon and semantic properties (‘modal meaning’). It also attempts to clarify the confusion regarding modal verbs and modality in traditional Czech grammars by shifting the attention from pragmatics to an approach based on recent development of generative syntax (Chomsky 1998, 2000, 2001). Following the examination of syntactic behaviour of Czech modals in the CVD structure, the thesis proceeds to modify Emonds’ (1985, 2000) theory of semilexicality. This approach assumes that Czech modals are neither fully functional (due to properties such as rich morphological paradigm, ability to undergo Negation, Reflexivization and PF movement), nor fully lexical (they are unable to take clausal complements and distinguish between aspectual pairs). The semi-lexical analysis also shows that there is evidence for the existence of two types of Czech modals, True modal verbs (TMVs) and Optional modal verbs (OMVs). Whilst the former cannot nominalize or denote events, but are able to convey epistemic meaning, the latter undergo nominalization and are capable of event denotation, but do not attain epistemic reading. The semi-lexical properties of both TMVs and OMVs are syntactically reflected in their specific subcategorization frame X, +MODAL, +mod, +__ [V, INF]. The cognitive syntactic feature +MODAL cospecifies the syntactic derivation of Czech modal verbs in the ‘light’ vº, which takes an infinitival VP as a complement. Therefore, I argue that the CVD is syntactically vP. If the original CVD structure involves multiple infinitives (Jan vPmusí VPchtít(INF) začít(INF) číst(INF) tu knihu ‘John has to want to begin reading that book’), the VP complement has characteristics of a flat structure, adapted from Emonds (1999a, 1999b, 2001). On the other hand, +mod is a semantic feature that specifies the lexical behaviour of Czech modals and conveys the ‘modal meaning’, which is formalized in terms of possible worlds semantics as quantification over the modal base. The semi-lexical analysis also investigates the root v. epistemic dichotomy. The thesis argues that this dichotomy does not affect the unified theory of modality in Czech in terms of its derivational and semantic status, but is a result of covert processes at the level of Logical Form (LF), which realize different levels of modal quantification.
Supervisor: Hambrook, Glyn ; Veselovksa, L. ; Caink, A. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Syntax ; Czech language ; Modal verbs ; Semi-lexical ; Minimalist ; Complex verbs ; Complex verbal domain ; Infinitives