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Title: The nature of configurationality in LFG
Author: Snijders, Liselotte
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 4004
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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The central issue in this thesis is configurationality, which has broadly been defined in terms of a division of the world's languages based on their core syntactic structure. Specifically, languages are traditionally divided into so-called configurational and non-configurational languages. Configurational languages are assumed to be languages with many restrictions on word order, and non-configurational languages are assumed to be languages with very few or no word order restrictions. Many linguists posit a strict division between the two different types of languages. In this thesis I propose a non-derivational approach to configurationality, and I discuss in detail three posited characteristics of non-configurational languages (in comparison to configurational languages): free word order, discontinuous expressions and subject-object asymmetries in binding. I propose a four-way classification of languages instead of a two-way one, based on constraints on annotations on phrase structure nodes, both for argument functions and for information structural roles (such as topic and focus). I propose that this four-way distinction is what underlies configurationality. I show that discontinuous expressions and potentially subject-object symmetries follow from the nature of languages that have traditionally been classified as non-configurational. For my analysis I employ Lexical Functional Grammar (LFG), a non-derivational framework which is particularly well-suited to account for languages in which grammatical functions are not tied to specific phrase structural positions, due to its parallel architecture. This characteristic of LFG enables me to provide a straightforward classification of languages, by the ability to separate the influence of grammatical functions and information structural roles on word order and phrase structural configuration.
Supervisor: Asudeh, Ash ; Dalrymple, Mary Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council ; Gen Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Lexical-functional grammar ; Language and languages--Classification ; Linguistics ; Grammar ; Comparative and general--Syntax