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Title: Auxiliary placement in Rangi : a dynamic syntax perspective
Author: Gibson, Hannah Cameron
Awarding Body: SOAS, University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2012
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The Tanzanian Bantu language Rangi is unusual in that it exhibits a construction in which an infinitival verb form precedes an inflected auxiliary. This ordering of the infinitive with respect to the auxiliary is marked within the context of East African Bantu. It also contradicts Greenberg's (1963) proposed linguistic universal that Subject Verb Object languages exhibit auxiliary-infinitive order. Whilst the infinitive precedes the auxiliary in main declarative clauses, auxiliaryinfinitive order is found in negative, interrogative and cleft constructions, as well as in relative and subordinate clauses. This thesis examines infinitive-auxiliary order in Rangi, providing a detailed description of the structure and contexts in which the construction is used. Based on this, a formal analysis is developed from the perspective of Dynamic Syntax (Kempson et al. 2001; Cann et al. 2005b) - a framework which models the establishment of propositional structure by focusing on the dynamics of the parsing/production process in a time-linear manner. The infinitive-auxiliary order is captured by adopting an analysis in which infinitival verb forms are projected onto an unfixed predicate node. In contrast, auxiliaries project fixed minimal predicate-argument structure and introduce temporal information. The alternation auxiliary-infinitive order is subsequently analysed as resulting from the presence of an unfixed node. The analysis presented depends on the independent restriction operative in the Dynamic Syntax framework under which two unfixed nodes of the same modality cannot co-exist. This restriction is the result of the two nodes being defined identically in terms of tree logic. The presence of an unfixed node is taken as a trigger for the auxiliary-infinitive order, whilst the infinitive-auxiliary order is found in the absence of this trigger. A formal definition of the rule of PREDICATE ADJUNCTION is presented. The analysis provides further support for the availability of the building and re-building of the same structure within a semantic tree which is permissible in Dynamic Syntax. The thesis interrogates the extent to which similar syntactic contexts can be seen to motivate, and inform, distributional properties of similar (and distinct) elements in languages in unrelated language families.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral