Séminaire de Recherche en Linguistique

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Titre Feature merger and feature realization, a unifying approach to the NP/DP-dispute.
Conférencier Giuliana Giusti (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice)
Date mardi 05 février 2019
Heure 12h15
Salle L208 (Bâtiment Candolle)

In current generative literature, there is a large consensus on the presence of some functional categories in the nominal expression. The disagreement regards the number and category of the functional projections and how parametric variation is treated: Cartography seeks to find the universal hierarchies of functional heads, assumes strict right-branching, and excludes head movement (cf. Cinque and Rizzi 2008). Minimalism (Chomsky 1995) eliminates labels, freely allow right- or left-branching, and only merges the items that are in the numeration.

This talk attempts a unification of the two approaches based on Giusti (2015, 2018), along the following lines:

·    Heads are hierarchical bundles of features.

·    The head N, bundled with its features, remerges as many times as necessary in order to

o    saturate open positions of N (its arguments),

o    saturate open positions of modifiers (A),

o    externally agree with a possessor (if present) and assign Case to it, at the highest non-phasal projection, (Richards 2007),

o    internally agree with an indexical (cf. Arsenijević 2007, 2015), and

o    value an uninterpretable Case feature at the phasal level.


The structure of complex NPs such as Italian (1)-(2)or English (3)is given in (4):                             

(1)     le  sue tre simpatiche amiche americane

(2)     le  tre simpatiche amiche americane di Maria

(3)     her/Mary’s three nice American friends

(4)        [NP6 indP N6 [NP5 Card N5 [NP4 NPposs N4 [NP3 AP N3 [NP2 AP N2 [NP1 NPposs N1]]]]]]


N1, N2, etc. are identical segments of the same head N. Parametric variation regards which segment(s) is/are realized (thereby deriving head-movement effects). Economy prohibits the realization of more than one identical segment (cf. Nunes 2004).

·          In English, nominal expressions with a possessor (NPposs) realize N1 and no other segment.

·          In Italian two different segments are realized: the definite article (N5) realizes Case features. The lexical N is realized in N3. Number and gender overlap on both.

In both languages, IndP is covert.

In both languages, N4 activates a probe feature that assigns case to NPposs.

·          In English NPposs remerges in SpecNP4, irrespective of whether it is a pronoun or a full NP.

·          In Italian NPposs only remerges if it is a pronoun. If it is a full NP, it remains in place and possessive case is realized as di (a segment of the possessive NP).

The contribution will provide an answer to long-standing questions, such as

·          Are nominal functional categories justified? Yes, but they are not independent heads. They are bundled with N.

·          Are determiners phrasal? “Determiner” is a spurious category: articles are high segments of N, in languages that have such segmentation; demonstratives and cardinals are phrasal.

·          What is double definiteness? It is the overt realization of one or more segments of N, or of a segment of N cooccurring with an overt IndP.

References: • Arsenijević, Boban (2007) “The syntactic triangle: phases, categories and reference”. In C. de Cuba & I. Mitrovic (eds.), Proceedings from the Novi Sad Generative Linguistics Workshop 2006. Novi Sad: Filozofski fakultet u Novom Sadu, 5-25. • Arsenijević, Boban (2015) “The syntactic triangle: phases, categories and reference (extended version) ms. • Chomsky, Noam (1995). The Minimalist Program. Cambridge MA: MIT Press. • Cinque, Guglielmo and Luigi Rizzi (2008). The Cartography of Syntactic Structures. Studies in Languistics 2, 1-58. • Giusti, Giuliana (2015). Nominal Syntax at the interfaces. Newcastle upon Tyne, Cambridge Scholars Publishing. • Giusti, Giuliana (2018) Demonstratives as modifiers and arguments of N. In Coniglio, Marco, Andrew Murphy, Eva Schlachter, Toenjes Veenstra Atypical Demonstratives. Berlin: de Gruyter, 23-55. • Nunes, Jairo (2004) Linearization of chains and sideward movement. Boston: MIT Press. • Richards, M. On feature inheritance: an argument from the Phase Impenetrability Condition. Linguistic Inquiry 38:563-572.

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