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Presents a new theoretical framework for the origins of human language and sets key issues in language evolution in their wider context within biological and cultural evolution


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Dissertation Information


Title: Context and (Co)reference in the Syntax and its Interfaces Add Dissertation
Author: Sandhya Sundaresan Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Homepage: https://sites.google.com/site/sndhysndrsn/
Degree Awarded: UiT The Arctic University of Norway , Center for Advanced Study in Theoretical Linguistics
Completed in:
2012
Linguistic Subfield(s): Discourse Analysis Morphology Pragmatics Semantics Syntax
Director(s): Gillian Ramchand
Artemis Alexiadou

Abstract: It is well known that referentially defective nominals fall into two broad categories:
pro-forms whose reference seems structurally constrained (local anaphors, OC
PRO) and those which are discourse-pragmatically conditioned (logophors,
deictic pronouns, indexicals). Nevertheless, a strict binary distinction cannot be
maintained because most actually straddle the syntax-discourse divide: e.g.
deictic pronouns can be variable-bound, indexicals may be “shifted” under
certain intensional operators, and logophors and long-distance anaphors often
look and behave alike. The central thesis of this dissertation is that a proper
subset of pro- forms can receive a unified analysis under an enriched
grammatical model that posits the syntactic representation of mental and/or
spatio-temporal perspective. To this end, I present novel evidence from verbal
agreement triggered under anaphora to show that even so-called “logophoric”
reference involves an indelible syntactic core. I propose that perspective is
featurally represented on a silent pronominal operator in the specifier of a
Perspectival phrase (PerspP) at the phasal-edge of certain CPs, PPs, DPs, and
AspPs and may be exploited to yield a unified account of anaphora and
agreement patterns triggered under it. Anaphora involves two distinct
dependencies: an Agree relationship between the anaphor and the operator in the
[Spec, PerspP] of its minimal phase, which is the equivalent of syntactic binding,
and a conceptual relationship between the antecedent and this operator, which is
the equivalent of non-obligatory control. Thus, all binding is local and syntactic; all
antecedence is non-local and (primarily) non-syntactic. I also illustrate that
perspective must be kept conceptually and structurally distinct from the
Kaplanian utterance context and the intensional “context” responsible for
indexical shift. The main language of investigation is the Dravidian language
Tamil but crosslinguistic comparisons are made with: Abe, Aghem, Amharic,
Czech, Donna SO, Dutch (standard and Brabant), English, French, German,
Greek, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Kannada, Korean, Malayalam, Mupun,
Navajo, North Sami, Norwegian, Romanian, Russian, Slave, Swahili, Telugu,
Uyghur, Zapotec and Zazaki. The Tamil judgments are bolstered by the results
of an online survey conducted among 38 native speakers around the world.