|dc.description.abstract||This dissertation explores some of the traditionally
labeled possessive relations, and proposes a basic
syntactic structure that underlies them. The two nouns act
as subject and predicate in a small clause, dominated by
two functional projections, where reference/agreement and
contextual restrictions are checked.
Looking first at container-content relations, we
propose that the container is always a predicate for the
content. Because in our system selection is determined in
the small clause and agreement is checked in an AgrP,
selection and agreement need not be determined by the same
noun. Selection also distinguishes between a container and
a content reading. The evidence from extraction shows that
container readings are more complex than content readings.
We propose that the container reading adds a higher small
clause whose predicate is the feature number.
Number is thus a predicate, which type-lifts mass
terms to count nouns, the way classifiers do in
languages without number. Evidence from Spanish and
Asturian shows a three-way distinction between absence of
number (mass terms), singular and plural. We also propose
that nouns are not divided into rigid classes, such as
mass/count. Rather, any noun may be used as mass or count,
depending on whether number is added to its syntactic
derivation or not.
An analysis of possessor raising to both nominative
and dative in Spanish also supports the idea that nouns
are not divided into rigid classes with respect to their
ability to enter possessive relations. Relations such as
part/whole, alienable and inalienable possessions, are all
analyzed as small clauses where the possessor is the
subject and the possessed is the predicate.
Finally, we propose a universal principle: possessor
raising can occur in languages that have a structural Case
in a v-projection, in addition to the Case checked by the
direct object. This predicts that causative verbs in
languages with possessor raising should also allow the
Case checking of both the object and the subject of an
embedded transitive clause. The prediction is borne out,
giving rise to four types of languages, according to their