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Indefinite noun phrases in Turkish

Leyla Zidani-Eroglu

Ph.D. Dissertation, 1997


This work investigates some properties of accusative marked indefinite direct objects in Turkish, such as their syntactic position, interpretation and semantic category. A VP-external indefinite NP with accusative case gets a specific reading whereas a VP-internal one lacking accusative case gets a nonspecific reading. This correlation between accusative case and the specificity of an indefinite is drawn in Enç (1991). Enç's notion of specificity is that of discourse-linked in Pesetsky (1987). I introduce another class of specific indefinites with accusative case in Turkish. These out-of-the-blue specific indefinites are separate from concealed partitive and relational specific indefinites presented in Enc (1991). I argue that they are accommodated and thus are discourse-linked. Therefore, they provide further evidence for the correlation above. I argue, contra Diesing (1990, 1992b), that accusative case on indefinite direct objects in Turkish should not be equated with quantification since their scope behavior contrasts with that of genuine quantifiers. Moreover, such association must posit ambiguity in the quantificational force of Turkish free choice items, which must bear accusative case and can have an overt paraphrase. These items get an existential reading when licensed by negation but get a universal reading when licensed by a modal. This work treats free choice and negative polarity items as variables. Since accusative carrying free choice items and similarly negative polarity items must appear in the scope of the nonquantificational operator negation, which has only a nuclear scope, they map into the nuclear scope of negation. This fact demonstrates that, contra Diesing, a specific NP can appear in the nuclear scope of a partitioned sentence. Moreover, given the VP-external position of these direct objects, the nuclear scope of negation must also extend beyond the VP. Thus, I argue for a relativization of Diesing's Mapping Hypothesis depending on the operator at hand. Consequently, the nuclear scope of a partitioned sentence can extend beyond the VP.

Department of Linguistics University of Wisconsin-Madison

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