PhD Dissertations


Olga Urek

Title: Palatalization in Latvian, 2016

Supervisors: Martin Krämer and Marit Westergaard


Palatalization is very commonly attested across languages and has sparked considerable interest in fields like linguistic typology, phonetics, and phonology. However, palatalization notoriously exhibits a large degree of diversity, both cross-linguistically and within individual languages, which, on the one hand, precludes a straightforward phonetic explanation, and, on the other hand, poses considerable challenges for formal phonological accounts striving to provide a unified analysis of all processes subsumed under this cover term. In this dissertation, I undertake a systematic investigation of a group of palatalization processes in Modern Standard Latvian, namely assimilatory palatalization, diminutive palatalization, and palatal assimilation in consonant clusters. The intricate Latvian patterns have hitherto received very little attention in the generative phonological literature. The relatively narrow empirical focus of this work made it possible to examine the phenomena in considerable depth and to uncover some regularities and dependencies that have been previously overlooked. I develop a representational and constraint-based analysis of Latvian palatalization. The substance-free approach to a process that has traditionally been regarded as a classic example of a phonetically motivated rule developed in this thesis provides a descriptively adequate, explanatory and formally simple analysis of assimilation patterns that posed considerable challenges for traditional phonetically-driven approaches, while at the same time revealing a complex inter-relation of different phonological and morphological phenomena within a given grammar.


Natalia Mitrofanova

Title: Paths and Places: Aspects of Grammar and Acquisition, 2016

Supervisors: Marit Westergaard and Peter Svenonius


Andrea Márkus

Supervisor: Michal Starke

Title: Taming the Hungarian (in)transitivity zoo. Undiagnosed species and a complete derivation of the morphosyntactic patterns, 2015


The main empirical contribution of this thesis is the unearthing of two overlooked constructions in Hungarian: the 2DPC and the half-passive. These constructions spice up the verbal domain with their hybrid characteristics, and much of the work was spent to pinpoint the data and establish the relevant generalizations. At the end of the day, an (in)transitivity scale emerged, and constructions with varying degrees of (in)transitivity were brought under a unified analysis on the premises of progressively growing syntactic structures. Putting the relevant slice of the functional sequence under the microscope, I demonstrated how a complex morphosyntactic pattern can be derived with remarkable accuracy. With this, I also displayed the extent to which morphology can be pursued in the syntax, in which a structural approach to morpheme structure was instrumental. Phrasal spell-out along with a gap-based approach gave me the tools to capture morphological diversity, speaker variation and a puzzling morphology vs. syntax/mismatch. But most of all, this thesis is pioneer work in providing a comprehensive and data-oriented account of intricate morphosyntactic patterns with unusual detail and precision.


Anna Wolleb

Title: Syntactic representations in the bilingual mind: the role of executive function and pragmatics in cross-language priming, 2015

Supervisors: Marit Westergaard and Antonella Sorace


In this thesis I investigate how syntactic forms are represented and accessed in the mind of bilingual children. In particular, I explore the role of executive control and pragmatics in the selection and use of these representations. To do so, I tested a group of Norwegian-English bilingual children and a group of Norwegian age-matched monolinguals in a priming paradigm and in a cognitive task (the Dimensional Change Card Sort, hereafter DCCS). I investigated word order in possessive constructions and dative alternation. These forms were chosen because they allow for different word orders, which vary depending on semantic and discourse factors. That is, the different structures were elicited by means of a priming task (both within- and between-language) where children were first exposed to the alternating word orders (prime) and then had to describe a picture by selecting one the two possible options (target). My goals are two-fold: first, to show that priming within-language is stronger than priming between-language, arguably due to the involvement of an inhibitory mechanism; second, to demonstrate that the access to the abstract syntactic representation is mediated by semantic and pragmatic factors.

Alexander Pfaff

Title: Adjectival and Genitival Modification in Definite Noun Phrases in Icelandic – A Tale of Outsiders and Inside Jobs, 2015


Icelandic provides substantial diversity of modification patterns in definite noun phrases not found in other languages. This thesis takes a closer look at that diversity and argues that various (morpho-) syntactic and semantic aspects of adjectival modification can be used as diagnostics for a layered noun phrase structure. I propose that the noun phrase structure can be segmented into four distinct zones where each zone defines a distinct entity (i.e. the denotation of a nominal projection is a function of the size of that projection). Once established, a zonal structure allows us to considerably simplify the semantics of adjectival modification in that it is not necessary to assume different kinds of adjectives. Rather the interpretation of the adjective is dependent on the zone in which it is merged, and thus on the entity it modifies. Following a proposal by Adger (2013), I develop an analysis of DP-genitives that allows us to account for an Icelandic-specific problem (genitive stranding), but moreover, allows us to abolish the distinction common vs. relational noun (and concomitantly, genitive modifier vs. argumental genitive). This traditional distinction can be simulated by the structure containing the genitival being merged in different positions in the nominal structures, i.e. in different zones. This means that genitival modification is also a matter of being merged in a certain zone. This insight opens the prospect that adjectival and genitival modification can be simplified and unified to a considerable extent.


Inna Tolskaya 

Title: Verbal Prefixes: Selection and Interpretation (July 2014)

Defense Date: December 10, 2014

Supervisor: Peter Svenonius

Committee: Elena Anagnostopoulou, Atle Grønn, Tarald Taraldsen

Abstract: The striking polysemy of Russian verbal prefixes is a well known phenomenon. I show that there is a system to this chaos: prefix meaning is predictable from verbal structure and the prefixation mechanism is similar to that seen in English examples like outdo and overdo. In my analysis, lexico-syntactic structure plays an important role in explaining the selection and interpretation of prefixes. I uncover a central meaning that remains constant across different uses of a prefix, and describe the formal structural criteria for prefix interpretation in a given context. A uniform analysis of prefixation is developed, where a prefix relates an event to a scale measuring path, change or time. Both change of state and the development of an activity in time mirror a path in space with beginning, duration and a goal. E.g. a heating event can be seen as a journey along the temperature scale from a colder state to a warmer one. The choice of scale that a prefix combines with is a function of the syntactic position of the prefix, determined by the verbal structure. This approach is also fruitful for English, where I show that the acceptability of prefixation correlates with a scalarity-based classification of verbs.

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Rosmin Mathew 


Title: The Syntactic Effect of Head Movement: Wh and Verb movement in Malayalam (February 2014)

Defense Date: May 8, 2014

Supervisor: Peter Svenonius

Committee: K.A.Jayaseelan, Gisbert Fanselow, Gillian Ramchand

Abstract: This thesis takes the position that head movement is a narrow syntactic phenomenon that can affect locality constraints thereby forcing certain phrasal elements such as a phrase containing a Wh to undergo movement. The basic proposal explored in the thesis dates back to Chomsky (1986) where the movement of a verb is proposed to be able to affect and alter a barrier. This idea is translated into contemporary technical apparatus in the thesis to capture locality conditions, with Wh movement in Malayalam providing the necessary data to make a case for it. The two constructions studied in the thesis present a contrast in terms of the position of the Wh. While the verb-final construction does not allow a Wh any freedom of movement, the aanu construction demands obligatory movement of certain Wh phrases to the pre-auxiliary position. It is shown that the pivotal structural difference between the verb-final construction and the aanu construction pertains to verb movement. The verb undergoes V-to-C movement in a verb-final construction whereas the verb remains within the IP in an aanu construction. Following the Phase Impenetrability Condition (Chomsky 2001) coupled with the concept that head movement can extend barriers (Chomsky 1986), it is argued that the V-to-C movement in the verb-final construction results in extending the Phase domain up to the C level as opposed to the phase boundary instantiated by the low verb in an aanu construction. Thus, in a verb-final construction, the in-situ Wh is already within the purview of the licensing CINT and does not need to move. However, in an aanu construction, the low verb creates a Phase boundary between the CINT and the Wh, thereby rendering an in-situ Wh within the IP domain ungrammatical, forcing the Wh phrase to move to the C-domain. The thesis also shows that in the case of Malayalam, analysing Wh movement as a sub-case of Focus movement is problematic. In short, the thesis argues for verb movement, and shows that it has important syntactic manifestations.

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Violeta Martínez-Paricio 

Title: An exploration of minimal and maximal metrical feet (August 2013)

Defense Date: December 11, 2013

Supervisors: Martin Krämer and Armin Mester (Santa Cruz)

Committee: Birgit Alber, Junko Itô, Patrik Bye

Abstract: This thesis presents a principled theory of bounded recursive footing. Building on previous research on metrical stress, and couched within the framework of Prosodic Hierarchy Theory, I argue that the rehabilitation of recursive feet in phonological representations leads to an improvement of our theory of prosody. I investigate the major driving forces that may cause recursion at the foot level and demonstrate that reference to recursive and non-recursive feet in various related and unrelated languages (e.g. Wargamay, Yidiɲ, Chugach, English, Dutch, German, Gilbertese, Seneca, Ryukyuan, Tripura Bangla, Cayuvava) allows us to provide a unified account of a wide range of prosodically-conditioned phenomena which would otherwise remain unexplained. In particular, I demonstrate that the assignment of binary and ternary stress, certain tonal distributions, some puzzling cases of vowel lengthening, consonant fortition, vowel reduction and consonant weakening all clearly benefit from recursion-based analyses. In arguing for the need for recursive feet in phonological representations, I identify new strength relations in prosodic systems. Besides the well-established strength dichotomy between the head of a foot (i.e. the strong branch of a foot) and the dependent of a foot (i.e. its weak branch), I show that languages may distinguish between further metrical prominence positions. These additional required positions do not need to be stipulated as they come for free in a framework that allows recursion at the level of the foot.

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Islam Youssef

Title: Place Assimilation in Arabic: Contrasts, Features, and Constraints (April 2013)

Defense Date: August 15, 2013

Supervisors: Bruce Morén-Duolljá and Martin Krämer

Committee: Stuart Davis, Janet Watson, Patrik Bye

Abstract: This thesis provides evidence from Cairene and Baghdadi Arabic that sub-segmental representations depend on the patterns of contrast and phonological activity in a given language. I investigate every process of place assimilation in these two varieties, and show that the analysis of an individual phenomenon must be congruent with that of the overall sound system. In the analysis, phonological features are treated as abstract (substance-free) categories that “emerge” to the learner from the language’s surface patterns; that is to say, they are neither universal nor genetically pre-determined. This stems from the belief that phonology and phonetics are two independent domains, though resembling each other in obvious ways. The empirical contribution of the thesis is to provide in-depth descriptions of all instances of place assimilation in these two varieties of Arabic, based on an extensive amount of first-hand data. These data are presented and carefully examined, uncovering new and interesting facts about the patterns, and also holding implications for the wider context of Arabic dialectology. The theoretical contribution is two-fold. First, the thesis offers new solutions to a number of representational and computational challenges in the analysis of place assimilation. Second, it offers an exposition and implementation of a recently developed comprehensive theory of feature geometry—the Parallel Structures Model. This model provides a minimalist and coherent account of consonant-vowel interactions within a unified analysis of the complete sound system. Moreover, the treatment of phonological representations within the model makes it compatible with a constraint-based theory of computation.

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Sandhya Sundaresan 

Title: Context and (Co)reference in the syntax and its interfaces (November 2012)

Defense Date: March 7, 2013

Supervisor: Gillian Ramchand

Committee: David Adger, Valentina Bianchi, Peter Svenonius

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, English, French, German, Greek, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Kannada, Korean, Malayalam, Mupun, Navajo, North Sami, Norwegian, Romanian, Russian, Slave, Swahili, Telugu, Uyghur, and Zazaki. The Tamil judgments are bolstered by the results of an online survey conducted among 38 native speakers around the world.

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Pavel Iosad

Title: Representation and variation in substance-free phonology: a case study in Celtic(August 2012)

Defense Date: February 18, 2013

Supervisor: Bruce Morén-Duolljá

Committee: Keren Rice, S.J. Hannahs, Martin Krämer

Abstract: This thesis presents a comprehensive analysis of the phonological patterns of two varieties of Brythonic Celtic in the framework of substance-free phonology. I argue that cross-linguistic variation in sound patterns does not derive solely from differences in grammars (implemented as Optimality Theoretic constraint rankings). Instead, I adopt the substance-free framework, based on the principle of modularity and autonomy of the phonological component, to account for cross-linguistic phonological and phonetic variation. Phonological representations in substance-free phonology are built up without regard to the physical implementation of phonological units, on the basis of the system of contrasts and patterns of alternation. Although this insight is not new when couched in terms of a language-specific assignment of a set of universal phonological features, I argue that the mapping between phonology and phonetics is also not universal and deterministic, and reject the universality of the feature set. Instead, I argue for a rich interface between phonology and phonetics. Based on this understanding of the nature of variation, I provide a holistic analysis of the sound systems of two closely related languages: Pembrokeshire Welsh and Bothoa Breton. I propose an account in terms of a rich representational theory. Among other proposals, I defend the need for surface ternary contrasts, which I propose to implement using feature geometry. I also show that the substance-free approach, which decouples phonological representation from phonetic realization, strikes the correct balance between innatist and emergentist approaches to phonological markedness; I demonstrate this by way of an extensive case study of laryngeal phonology, which leads to a reinterpetation of the approach known as ‘laryngeal realism’. I also argue that the phonological component of grammar should allow constraints with prima facie undesirable factorial consequences, if such constraints are needed to account for functionally unmotivated sound patterns, and discuss the consequences of this approach for the substance-free nature of phonological computation.

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Éva Dékány

Title: A profile of the Hungarian DP: The interaction of lexicalization, agreement, and linearlization with the functional sequence  (December 2011)

Defense Date: May 10, 2012

Supervisor: Gillian Ramchand

Committee: Marcel den Dikken, Genoveva Puskas, Peter Svenonius

Abstract: The theoretical focus of my thesis is the methodology of establishing the hierarchy of functional projections. I argue that four factors influence the hierarchy: mapping to semantics, mapping to phonology, agreement, and linearization. I assume without argument that mapping to semantics follows compositional semantics, and there are no semantically inert heads in syntax. I examine what approach to the remaining three factors is most compatible with this view. I argue for a Nanosyntactic mapping to phonology, a Mirror Theoretic linearization model and the representation of agreement morphemes in the syntax but without dedicated AgrPs. The empirical basis of the thesis is the extended nominal projection in Hungarian. I aim to set up a functional sequence for the Hungarian DP in a way that does justice to both semantic and word order considerations. I identify agreement morphemes in the Hungarian nominal projection and examine how different word order algorithms can derive the surface order from the underlying hierarchy.

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Marina Pantcheva

Title: Decomposing Path: The Nanosyntax of Directional Expressions (May 2011)

Defense Date: October 21, 2011

Supervisor: Peter Svenonius

Committee: Marit Julien, Joost Zwarts, Knut Tarald Taraldsen

Abstract: In my thesis, I investigate directional expressions cross-linguistically. I examine the morpho-syntactic structure of expressions of Goal (to the house), Source (from the house), Route (through the house), non-transitional paths (towards the house) and, finally, delimited paths (up to the house). I conclude that all these types of directional expressions are of different syntactic complexity. Precisely, Source expressions (from) are formed on the basis of Goal expressions (to) and Route expressions (via) are formed on the basis of Source expressions (from). Similarly, non-transitional paths (towards, away from) are based on the corresponding transitional path (to, from) and delimited paths (up to) are based on the corresponding non-delimited path (to). Assuming that morphological complexity is reflected in syntax, I take this containment relationship to indicate that the syntactic structure of Route expressions embeds the structure of Source expressions, which embed Goal expressions. Likewise, non-transitional paths embed transitional paths and delimited paths embed non-delimited paths. This leads me to decomposing the Path head, argued to be present in directional phrases, into five distinct heads: Goal, Source, Route, Scale and Bound. Adopting the Nanosyntax theory of grammar, I explore the lexicalization of the decomposed Path structure and show how it captures the morphological make-up and the diversity of directional expressions across languages, as well as the restrictions which apply to them. Finally, I test the predictions against the empirical domain of syncretisms between the spatial roles Route, Source, Goal, and Location. I show that the decomposed Path structure and the lexicalization theory I adopt capture syncretism patterns that are widely attested among languages and ban those syncretism patterns that are unattested.

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Monika Bader

Title: Constraining Operations: A Phase-based Account of Improper Movement and Anaphoric Binding (May 2011)

Defense Date: September 15, 2011

Supervisor: Peter Svenonius

Committee: Jim McCloskey, Ad Neeleman, Gillian Ramchand

Abstract: The goal of this dissertation is to offer a novel way of relating locality restrictions on movement and binding dependencies to a common set of syntactic factors. The starting point is the long noted observation that movement operations must apply in a particular order to yield a licit result (Chomsky 1973). The question of how the restrictions on ordering of movement operations might be derived in a principled way has been one of the major concerns of the linguistic theory ever since they were fist noted. This thesis aims at providing a new analysis of the phenomenon, relying on theoretical tools and conceptual advances of the now broadly adopted Minimalist framework of syntactic theory (Chomsky (1995, 2001)). I start by investigating possible feeding/bleeding relations between various movement operations and show, drawing on some recent work on the topic, that the same ordering restrictions can be observed not only in cases involving consecutive movements of the same phrase (captured by the standard formulation of the Ban on Improper Movement), but also in cases involving subextraction from moved phrases and remnant movement. I then argue that the observed ordering restrictions in all three configurations can be derived from the independently needed hierarchy of functional projections, and without recourse to ordering statements and/or representational filters. I show that this can be achieved by relying on the internal featural make-up of the moving phrase, in conjunction with a particular view regarding the timing and manner in which linguistic structure is spelled out. In the second part, I turn to a different empirical domain, that of anaphoric binding, and argue that the same factors are also crucial in regulating the distribution and interpretation of anaphoric relations. I show that the particular assumptions concerning the nature of syntactic computation motivated by the analysis of movement phenomena lead to some novel predictions in the domain of anaphoric binding, which I argue are empirically supported. Though the main focus is on the syntactic aspects of binding relations, particularly on locality restrictions, semantic and discourse properties of binding dependencies are also taken into consideration. The primary data is drawn from English, but other languages, including German, Dutch and Serbian, are also discussed.

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Marleen Susanne van de Vate

Title: Tense, Aspect and Modality in a Radical Creole : the case of Saamáka (January 2011)

Defense Date: May 27, 2011

Supervisor: Gillian Ramchand

Committee: Jacqueline Guéron,  Tonjes Veenstra and Tarald Taraldsen

Abstract: The dissertation aims to establish the hierarchy of functional projections in the IP domain of Saamáka. In order to determine this hierarchy, it is important to study the semantic interpretation and syntactic distribution of each individual tense, aspect and modality morpheme. After which the interaction of these morphemes is studied to determine the exact position in the hierarchy of the individual morphemes.

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Peter Jurgec

Title: Feature Spreading 2.0. A Unified Theory of Assimilation (August 2010)

Defense Date: January 13, 2011

Supervisor: Bruce Morén-Duolljá and Curt Rice

Committee: Laura Downing, Marc van Oostendorp, and Martin Krämer

Abstract:The main contribution of the thesis is the idea that assimilation displays hierarchical properties. That is, not all segments have equal status in assimilation. By looking at some previously unnoticed data, I review an old idea that assimilation shows evidence of binary, headed, and recursive structures. This model allows to capture the difference between triggers, final and non-final targets, and transparent segments in terms of association and headedness.The approach allows for a unified analysis of all kinds of assimilation (local assimilation, nasal vowel, consonant harmony, and tone spreading). In addition, the constraints responsible for assimilation can also model dissimilation and derived environment effects. I also show that parasitic vowel harmony and consonant harmony are more similar than previously assumed.

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Madeleine Halmøy

Title: The Norwegian Nominal System – A Neo-Saussurean Perspective (February 2010)

Defense Date: April 30, 2010

Supervisor: Tore Nesset

Committee: Greville Corbett, Helge Dyvik, and Marit Westergaard


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Kaori Takamine

Title:The postpositional hierarchy and its mapping to clause structure in Japanese (January 2010)
Defense Date: March 19, 2010
Supervisor: Peter Svenonius
Committee: Guglielmo Cinque, Akira Watanabe and Gillian Ramchand

Abstract:It can be observed that the relative order of modifier PPs in Japanese is free. Given that the word order in Japanese can be rearranged by scrambling, two questions arise with regard to the word order of modifiers. Is the word order of these modifiers constrained underlyingly? And how are the modifier PPs introduced into a clause structure? A possible answer is a traditional approach under which the order of the PPs is not constrained and that the modifier PPs can be freely adjoined to a syntactic structure (cf. Ernst 2002). An alternative is a theory of functional sequences, in which PPs are generated in unique positions, and a movement operation changes their word order in the surface structure (Alexiadou 1997, Cinque 1999, 2006). In my thesis, I investigate the word order of modifier PPs in Japanese. The goals of the thesis are two–fold. The first is to argue that the underlying order of PPs in Japanese is rigid. On the basis of empirical observation, I argue that modifier PPs are generated in a hierarchical fashion. Once the hierarchy of the modifier PP is determined, I show how the hierarchy supports the theories of a fine-grained functional sequence over the traditional adjunct analysis.

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Pavel Caha

Title: The nanosyntax of case (July 2009)

Defense Date: October 2 2009

Supervisor: Michal Starke

Committee: Hilda Koopman, Jonathan Bobaljik and Tarald Taraldsen

Abstract:This dissertation proposes a new approach to case. It unifies its syntax, morphology and semantics in a simple, fine-grained and restrictive picture. One of the assumptions frequently made in works on case is that cases such as nominative and accusative are not primitive entities, but they are each composed of various features. The central hypothesis of this dissertation is that these features are universal, and each of them is its own terminal node in the syntactic tree. Individual cases thus correspond to phrasal constituents built out of these terminals. The idea that syntactic trees are built by Merge from individual atomic features is one of the core principles of a cartographic approach to syntax pursued by M. Starke: Nanosyntax. Hence “The nanosyntax of case.” I motivate the approach on the material of case syncretism. I propose a hypothesis according to which case syncretism across various languages obeys a single restrictive template. The template corresponds to a cross-linguistically fixed sequence of cases, in which only adjacent cases show syncretism. In order to derive this, I argue that case features are syntactic heads, ordered in a universal functional sequence. If this is so, it follows that these sub-morphemic features interact with core syntactic processes, such as movement. The prediction is borne out: the interaction of (phrasal) movement and the fine-grained syntactic representation derives a typological generalization concerning cross-linguistic variation in the amount of case marking (Blake’s hierarchy). Additional facts fall out from the picture: the role of functional prepositions, prepositional syncretism, case compounding, and preposition stacking. I further investigate in detail the spell out of these highly articulate structures. I follow Starke (2005) and propose that individual morphemes spell out phrasal constituents of varying size, and that their insertion is governed by the Superset Principle. I argue that phrasal spell out is both empirically required, and theoretically beneficial: it simplifies the overall architecture of grammar. In particular, there is no part left to play for a separate morphological structure. With the proposal in place, I observe that there are generalizations which connect the proposed representation and the DP external syntax. To account for this, I adopt the Peeling theory of movement (Starke 2005). The theory says that arguments are base-generated with a number of case projections on top of them, and they strand these projections when they move up in the tree. The theory is shown to capture the initial observations, as well as additional generalizations: Burzio’s generalization among them. The resulting theory does not introduce any domain specific tools to account for case: its representation corresponds to a binary syntactic structure, its computation corresponds to syntactic movement.

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Björn Lundquist

Title: Nominalizations and participles in Swedish (December 2008)

Date: May 20 2009

Supervisor: Gillian Ramchand

Committee: Rajesh Bhatt, Elisabet Engdahl and Øystein Vangsnes

Abstract:The dissertation discusses two types of participles (present and past (passive)) and two types of nominalizations ((n)ing-nominalizations and e/a-nde-nominalizations) in Swedish. The dissertation has two major goals: (I) to reach a better understanding of the ‘lexical’ semantics of different types of verbs by investigating which properties of the verbs survive in different types of nominalizations and participles, and (II) to pin down the exact semantic and morpho-syntactic properties of different types of nominalizing and participle forming morphemes in Swedish. My main claim is that the participial and nominalizing morphology in Swedish is semantically highly under-specified. The difference in interpretation that arises between the two participles on the one hand and the two nominalizations on the other has its base in height of attachment of the morphemes in question. However, in addition, to get the full distributional pattern and the interpretational possibilities of the participles and nominalizations one has to take into consideration the lexical specification of the verb and other “blocking” forms (irregular and zero-derived forms). The pattern that arises supports the more general idea that verbal semantics can be broken down into small semantic primitives in the syntax. Each of the derived forms can further give rise to a lot of interpretations (i.e., result and event interpretations for both participles and nominalizations). I argue that the different readings all derive from a single verbal entry, with the ambiguity arising from different subsets of syntactic and semantic features surfacing in the various readings.

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Peter Muriungi

Title: Phrasal movement inside Bantu verbs : deriving affix scope and order in Kîîtharaka (August 2008)

Date: February 6 2009

Supervisor: Michal Starke and Klaus Abels

Committee: Adriana Belletti, Enoch Aboh and Tarald Taraldsen

Abstract:This thesis tries to determine the principles that govern affix ordering in Kîîtharaka, an SVO Bantu language spoken in Kenya. The thesis starts by determining the base hierarchy of affixes by using semantic scope. Thus if an affix A scopes over an affix B, A asymmetrically c-commands B in the phrasal structure configuration. The thesis then tries to investigate how the affixes in the base hierarchy are re-ordered to produce the surface string. It is shown that in order to get the surface string, a constituent containing the verb root undergoes phrasal movement past an affix in a mixture of cyclic and roll-up movement. This movement mechanism, which I refer to as dragging movement, is shown to be strikingly similar to the mechanism that derives the typological variation in the ordering of demonstrative, numeral and adjective in the extended projection of the noun (Cinque 2005). The thesis therefore shows that the ordering of the affixes in the extended projection of the verb phrase in Kîîtharaka and the ordering of modifiers in the extended projection of the noun phrase fall under the same generalization.

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Sylvia Blaho

Title: The Syntax of phonology. A radically substancee-free approach (January 2008)

Date: June 6, 2008

Supervisor: Curt Rice and Bruce Morén-Duolljá

Committee: Keren Rice, Marc von Oostendorp, Martin Krämer

Abstract:The dissertation investigates the formal properties of phonological representation and computation. The starting point of the approach taken is that these can and should be investigated independently of the effect that extraphonological factors, most notably phonetics, have on the shape of individual phonologies. The dissertation discusses different formal aspects of phonological representations, and argues for a model using privative indexical features that can freely enter into feature geometrical dependency relations with one another. These representations are integrated with an Optimality Theoretical model of computation, and contraint schemas governing featural interactions are discussed. The working of the model is illustrated by three case studies: Slovak sandhi voicing, Hungarian voicing assimilation, and Pasiego Spanish vowel harmony.

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Yulia Rodina

Title: Semantics and Morphology: The Acquisition of Grammatical Gender in Russian (November 2007)

Date: April 25, 2008

Supervisor: Tore Nesset and Marit Westergaard

Committee: Natascha Müller, Sergej Avrutin, Curt Rice

Abstract:The dissertation investigates how Russian children acquire the category of grammatical gender in their mother tongue. The focus of the study is on several specific classes of nouns whose gender is usually derived from their semantic rather than their morphological properties, e.g. papa ‘daddy’. Previously, such nouns have been found to be problematic for children acquiring various languages. This dissertation presents the results of acquisition experiments with 37 Russian-speaking children and provides novel evidence suggesting that between the ages of 2½ and 6 the children are rather sensitive to the noun’s form. Special attention in the dissertation is paid to the asymmetries in children’s agreement production with various classes of nouns. The detailed analysis of the experimental results reveals that children distinguish classes of nouns and that primary linguistic data play an important role in this process.

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Kristine Bentzen

Title: Order and Structure in Embedded Clauses in Northern Norwegian (July 2007)

Date: October 20, 2007

Supervisor: Peter Svenonius

Committee: Caroline Heycock, Susi Wurmbrand, Tarald Taraldsen

Abstract:This dissertation consists of a collection of six papers, and the unifying topic for all of the papers is the position of verbs in embedded clauses in Northern Norwegian. This has relevance for linguistic theory because Northern Norwegian displays patterns which have not been discussed in detail before, and which under certain analyses are somewhat unexpected. The current study addresses various aspects of this topic. For example, Northern Norwegian is shown to allow verbs preceding adverbs in so-called non-V2 contexts, that is clauses in which Verb Second (V2) is not available. Since the verb is separated from its complements by the adverb, we take the verb to have moved from its base position. This indicates that Northern Norwegian employs a sort of short verb movement that is independent of the V2 operation found in main clauses. Such verb movement is not found in Standard Norwegian. Furthermore, this short verb movement in Northern Norwegian also differs from the verb movement found in non-V2 contexts in Icelandic.

The first part of the dissertation (chs. 1-3) explores the verb placement patterns found in embedded clauses in Northern Norwegian (NN) in more detail. I discuss both patterns where verbs follow all adverbs (ch. 1), and patterns where verbs intervene between or precede adverbs (ch. 2). NN verb movement in embedded clauses also affects the distribution of subjects in various ways, and this is addressed in ch. 3.

In the second part of the dissertation (chs. 4-6) the NN verb movement patterns are discussed in a broader perspective. Chs. 4-5 (joint with Gunnar Hrafn Hrafnbjargarson, Thorbjörg Hróarsdóttir, and Anna-Lena Wiklund) address NN verb movement in a cross-Scandinavian context. Ch. 4 compares the verb movement in NN and Icelandic non-V2 clauses, and argues that the two differ in several respects. Ch. 5 concerns embedded V2 in Norwegian, Swedish, Icelandic, and Faroese, and suggests that these languages display the same restrictions with respect to this phenomenon. Finally, ch. 6 (joint with Marit Westergaard) deals with the acquisition of verb placement in Norwegian embedded clauses, where children are found to overgeneralise verb movement for an extended period of time.

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