Derivation and Representation of Syntactic Amalgams

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2004-08-06

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Abstract

This dissertation consists of an investigation of Syntactic Amalgamation (cf. Lakoff 1974): the phenomenon of combination of sentences that yields parenthetic-like constructions like (01).

(01) John invited God only knows how many people to you can imagine what kind of a party.

The theoretical framework adopted is the Generative-Transformational Grammar (Chomsky 1957, 1965, 1975, 1981, 1986b, 2000b), following (and elaborating on) the recent developments known as the Minimalist Program (Chomsky 1995, 2000a, 2001a, 2001b; Martin & Uriagereka 2000; Uriagereka 1998, 1999, 2002).

As far as the representation of syntactic amalgams is concerned, the main claim made in this dissertation is that such constructions involve a radical form of shared constituency, where two or more matrix sentences share the same subordinate sentence, in a multiply-rooted phrase marker.

As far as the derivation of syntactic amalgams is concerned, the main claims made in this dissertation are: (i) context-free shared constituency arises from overlapping numerations; and (ii) the computational system builds structure incrementally, in a generalized tucking-in fashion, which yields a left-to-right/top-to-bottom effect on the derivation, such that constituency is heavily dynamic (along the lines of Phillips 1996, 2003; Drury 1998a, 1998b, 1999; Richards 1999, 2003).

The conclusion is that this particular kind of paratactic-like construction is better understood as a purely syntactic phenomenon, where the resources of the computational system are pushed to the limit.

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