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Susan Rustick

Ph.D. Dissertation, 1991


In this dissertation, a principles and parameters approach is taken to explain verb second and object shift. Verb second refers to the appearance of the verb in second position in the majority of main clause constructions in all of the Germanic languages except English, while object shift refers to the leftward movement of objects bearing overt morphological case in the Scandinavian languages. Verb second is posited to result from the parameters determining the realization of the Clausal Head (CH). The CH is a head derived in the syntax for the purpose of licensing the clause at LF. It is created by the incorporation of two heads, one a grammatical element of clausal scope and the other a lexical carrier, at a position M-commanding the clause. Two parameters, each with two possible settings, are associated with the CH. One parameter concerns the compositional requirement, while the other bears on the structural requirement. The first parameter may be set such that the lexical carrier is unrestricted as to categorial type or is required to be verbal; the second parameter determines whether the CH must M-command the clausal foot or head of any chain created by move alpha, in addition to all unmoved clausal elements. Given the CH construct and these two parameters, all of the verb second patterns are accounted for. I propose that object shift is enabled by the overt morphological case displayed by a noun (Holmberg (1986)) and is required by the bound status of pronouns. Thus, as all NPs display case in Icelandic, all NPs optionally shift, and as all pronouns in Scandinavian display case and are bound morphemes, pronouns obligatorily shift. A different method of case assignment is assumed, whereby case is a morpheme sister adjoined to a case assigner. Syntactic movement of the case morpheme or the noun results in the incorporation of the noun and case, providing an account of nominal inflection acquisition parallel to verbal inflection acquisition.

Department of Linguistics University of Wisconsin-Madison

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