On Economizing the Theory of A-Bar Dependencies

W.-T. D. Tsai, 1994

for $19.95 x

This dissertation aims to derive linguistic variations of wh-question and syntactic asymmetries among wh-expressions from a fairly restricted set of factors under the minimalist approach:  1) binary vs. singulary substitution (i.e., Generalized Transformation vs. Chain formation), 2) noun vs. adverb, and 3) weak vs. strong operator features.  Correlations have been established between wh-question formation and quantification in terms of the structural height of binders, as well as the magnitude of unselective binding.  Chinese, English, Hindi, and Japanese are examined to give a selective but representative spectrum of this correlationship.

On empirical grounds, we demonstrate that unselective binding and (A’-)Chain formation are different breeds of construal.  It is shown that the asymmetries between unselective binding and long wh-movement in general reflect the distinction between binary and singulary substitution.

Our second goal is to relate the (in)definiteness/specificity of nominals to their structural properties.  By extending Diesing’s (1992) mapping hypothesis, we present a fairly explicit mechanism of mapping syntactic representations to their corresponding logical forms, centering on the notion of syntactic predicate.  This move provides us a simple and optimal way to characterize the interaction between predication and quantification.  Existential closure is also shown to observe the Greed principle if understood properly, i.e., as an interpretation procedure rather than a syntactic operation.  We also explore the possibility of eliminating the lowering mechanism in favor of the copy theory, and initiate an attempt to reduce the stage-individual asymmetries to the distinction between degree and individual variables in the sense of Heim (1987) and Frampton (1990).

Thesis supervisor:         Noam Chomsky

Title:                             Institute Professor

Table of Contents

Chapter 1         From Lexicon to LF

            0          To move or not to move – that is the question                            9

            1          Toward a minimalist design of wh-dependencies                                    13

            2          Singulary vs. binary substitution                                                 17

                        2.1       Disintegrate lexical integrity                                                       17

                        2.2       Dou, dou, dou, and dou                                                          23

                        2.3       Interrogative construals in Chinese bare conditionals      27

                        2.4       Japanese mo-quantification and Chinese dou-quantification       37

                        2.5       A conceptual problem and an empirical solution             48

            3          Nouns vs. adverbs                                                                                54

            4          Strong vs. weak operator features                                                         65

            5          An overview                                                                                         73

Chapter 2         Some asymmetries between chain formation and unselective


            1          Long distance construals of amount wh’s                                               76

            2          Interrogative construals in dou- and mo-quantification               94

            3          A’-bound Pro or pure variable?                                                            101

            4          Wh-extraction from derived nominals                                        107

            5          Reflection on a syntax-LF asymmetry                                        110

            6          Aftermath                                                                                             122

Chapter 3         Toward LF interface

            0          Existential-closure extensions                                                                123

            1          Mapping as a cyclic operation                                                   129

                        1.1       The cyclic hypothesis                                                                129

                        1.2       The mapping geometry of topics                                                135

                        1.3       Summary                                                                                  140

            2          Existential closure as a post cyclic operation                                          141

                        2.1       The nature of existential-closure                                                141

                        2.2       Non-restrictive relative clauses                                      148

                        2.3       Existential constructions and predication licensing                       158

                                    2.3.1    Existential predicates and (in)definiteness

restrictions                                                                    159

                                    2.3.2    Weak existential predicates and secondary

                                                predication                                                                   164

                                    2.3.3    A dilemma                                                                    171

                                    2.3.4    Bare indefinites                                                 176

                        2.4       A refinement                                                                             178

                        2.5       Not unlikely extensions                                                 188

                                    2.5.1    Small clauses                                                                188

                                    2.5.2    Secondary temporal predicates                         190

                                    2.5.3    Resultative complements                                               198

                                    2.5.4    A preverbal-postverbal asymmetry of temporal

                                                adjuncts                                                                        200

            3          Chain-formation as a copying operation                                     203     

                        3.1       A few good questions                                                               203     

                        3.2       Lowering or copying?                                                               208

                        3.3       An individual variable account of stage-individual

asymmetries                                                                              211

                        3.4       Disagree Chinese agreement                                                     218

            4          Concluding remarks                                                                              226