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LINGUIST List 18.776

Tue Mar 13 2007

Diss: Historical Ling/Syntax: Sevdali: 'Infinitival Clauses in Anci...'

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        1.    Christina Sevdali, Infinitival Clauses in Ancient Greek: Overt and null subjects, the role of Case and Focus

Message 1: Infinitival Clauses in Ancient Greek: Overt and null subjects, the role of Case and Focus
Date: 12-Mar-2007
From: Christina Sevdali <c.sevdaliulster.ac.uk>
Subject: Infinitival Clauses in Ancient Greek: Overt and null subjects, the role of Case and Focus

Institution: University of Cambridge
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2007

Author: Christina Sevdali

Dissertation Title: Infinitival Clauses in Ancient Greek: Overt and null subjects, the role of Case and Focus

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics

Subject Language(s): Greek, Ancient (grc)
                            Greek (ell)

Dissertation Director:
Ian G. Roberts

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis investigates the properties of Ancient Greek (AG) infinitival
clauses and their subjects, and how they can be accounted for within a
generative framework. AG infinitives appear in many syntactic environments
and they also have a variety of morphological forms, whose interpretation
as temporal or aspectual is debatable. Moreover they license overt subjects
in accusative case (Accusativus Cum Infinitivo-AcI) and they can also
exhibit Control, where there is no accusative case detectable on the null
subject and instead it appears with the case of its controller from the
main clause (Case agreement across copula-CAAC). The main questions that
this thesis addresses therefore are: (a) what licenses accusative, when
accusative is present (instances of disjoint reference and emphasis, as
well as non-controlled null subjects), (b) what disallows the availability
of accusative in cases of control/CAAC and (c) whether this interchange
relates to other properties of AG infinitival clauses,
morphological/semantic or what. The analysis we will put forward goes
against others in the literature, which reduce AcI to an instance of
Exceptional Case marking (ECM) or relate it solely to the alleged temporal
properties of the infinitives. Instead we argue for a series of things: (a)
that all infinitival clauses are CPs, (b) that there is a split between two
types of CPs however, based on their discourse properties: normal C*Ps,
strong phases (in Chomsky's, 2001 sense) that have a contrastive focus
feature vs. CPs, weak phases that do not have this feature and consequently
no discourse domain. The later are instantiated as Control infinitives
where there is also no availability of accusative for the infinitival
subject. In order to relate the two properties we argue for the following:
a morphologically rich non-finite T can value the Case of its subject.
Whether it will actually do so depends on the existence and the feature
content of the infinitival C: if C has a contrastive discourse feature,
then it can consequently inherit the Case feature to non-finite T, which in
turn can value the Case on the subject DP. If on the other hand,
infinitival C does not have a discourse feature, then Case on the
infinitival subject cannot be valued from within the infinitival clause and
the latter is a weak phase, a domain transparent to operations from
outside, where CAAC obtains. According to this analysis the EPP feature of
non-finite clauses, when it exists, is related to discourse and it is
neither a formal syntactic feature nor solely a PF feature. In the last
part of this thesis we extend our analysis to other constructions that
exhibit the interchange between overt subjects with case and null subjects
with and without case as well as Control, namely Latin AcI, AG absolute
participles and Modern Greek na clauses etc. We show that both in the
finite and the non-finite domain, discourse features giving rise to two
types of Cs, play a bigger role in syntactic operations that often assumed.

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