Warlpiri: Theoretical Implications
, J. A. Legate 2002
The issue of non-configurationality is fundamental in determining the possible range of variation in Universal Grammar. This dissertation investigates this issue in the context of Warlpiri, the prototypical non-configurational language. I argue that positing a macroparameter, a single parameter that distinguishes configurational languages from non-configurational, requires variation on a magnitude not permitted by Universal Grammar. After refuting in detail previous macroparametric approaches, I propose a microparametric analysis: non-configurational languages are fully configurational and analysed through finegrained parameters with independent motivation. I develop this approach for Warlpiri, partially on the basis of new data collected through work with Warlpiri consultants and analysis of Warlpiri texts.
Beginning with A-syntax, I show that Warlpiri exhibits short-distance A-scrambling through binding and WCO data. I present an analysis of split ergativity in Warlpiri (ergative/absolutive case-marking, nominative/accusative agreement), deriving the split from a dissociation of structural case and its morphological realization, and the inherent nature of ergative case, rather than from non-configurationality. Extending the analysis to applicative constructions in Warlpiri, I identify both symmetric and asymmetric applicatives. I argue that the principled distinctions between them are explained structurally rather than lexically; therefore the applicative data provide evidence for a hierarchical verb phrase in Warlpiri. The analysis also reveals the first reported evidence for unaccusativity in the language.
Turning to A'-syntax, I argue that word order is not free in Warlpiri; rather Warlpiri displays an articulated left peripheral structure. Thus, word order variations are largely determined by positioning of elements in ordered functional projections based on information structure. Furthermore, I present evidence from WCO and island effects that elements appear in these projections through movement. Finally, I investigate the wh-scope marking construction, arguing for an indirect dependency approach. In developing the analysis, I argue, contrary to standard assumptions, that Warlpiri does have embedded finite complement clauses. On the basis of a poverty of the stimulus argument, I conclude the construction must follow from independent properties of the language. I propose that it follows from the discontinuous constituent construction, which I equate with split DPs/PPs in Germanic and Slavic languages.
The syntactic structure of Warlpiri that emerges from the dissertation strongly supports a configurational analysis of the language, and thereby the microparameter approach to nonconfigurationality.
Thesis Supervisor: Noam Chomsky
Title: Institute Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy
Thesis Supervisor: Sabine Iatridou
Title: Professor of Linguistics
|Table of Contents|
|2.4||Issues and Arguments I: Dual Structure||39|
|2.5||Issues and Arguments II: Pronominal Argument||47|
|2.5.1||Arguments for the PAH||47|
|2.5.2||Arguments against the PAH||70|
|2.6||Issues and Arguments III: Secondary Predicate||90|
|2.7||Towards a Microparameteric Account||97|
|3.2.1||The Grammatical Subject||120|
|3.2.5||Ergativity and Nonconfigurationality||153|
|3.3.4||A Structural Account||170|
|4.2.2||Wh-phrases and Foci||203|
|4.3||Movement versus Base-generation||213|
|4.4||Interpretation of Focus||222|
|4.5.4||Warlpiri wh-scope marking||264|