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The Syntax of Tenselessness: On Copying Constructions in Swedish
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Philosophy and Linguistics.
2005 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis investigates three construction types in Swedish where two (or more) verbs display identical inflectional morphology (COPYING) and share one overt subject. The constructions are referred to as (i) T(ENSE)M(OOD)A(SPECT)-COPYING complements, of the form John started and wrote (John started writing), (ii) PARTICIPLE COPYING complements, of the form John had been-able written (John had been able to write), and (iii) PSEUDOCOORDINATIONS, of the form John sat and wrote (John was writing). (i) and (ii) differ from (iii) in alternating with infinitives. (ii) differs from (i) and (iii) in restricting copying to participial form and in being incompatible with a linking element (corresponding to 'and'). The main claim is that the construction types are three surface variants of one and the same phenomenon, involving complementation and semantically vacuous inflection on the embedded verb(s). The differences between them are argued to be derivable from independent factors. (i) and (iii) are shown to differ from (ii) w.r.t. amount of functional structure present in the embedded clause. Matrix verbs in (iii) are shown to instantiate light verb uses of otherwise lexical verbs. Copying complements are argued to instantiate subtypes of "tenseless" infinitivals (infinitivals whose tense orientation fully overlaps with that of the matrix clause), characterized by an underspecified functional domain. Copying is assumed to be a surface reflection of (Agree-type) dependencies between functional heads of the same label; features of the embedded functional heads copy values from the corresponding functional heads in the matrix clause. Arguments for treating copying complements as instantiating restructuring are presented. It is proposed that copying complements differ from non-copying infinitival complements in being subject to valuation from the matrix functional domain. This suggests that an imporant aspect of (possibility of) restructuring is alternation between unmarked (negatively specified) and unvalued varieties of the same features.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Filosofi och lingvistik , 2005. , 202 p.
Umeå studies in linguistics, ISSN 1650-254X ; 2
Keyword [en]
Linguistics, infinitives, pseudocoordination, feature copying, restructuring, tense, underspecification
Keyword [sv]
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-468ISBN: 91-7305-817-3OAI: diva2:143519
Public defence
2005-03-29, Hörsal F, Humanisthuset, 10:15 (English)
The dissertation has been published in a revised version in the series Studies in Generative Grammar, Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin.Available from: 2005-03-08 Created: 2005-03-08 Last updated: 2010-04-29Bibliographically approved

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