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LICENSING PRINCIPLES AND PHRASE STRUCTURE

Yang Soon Kim

Ph.D. Dissertation, 1988

Abstract

This work explores a 'Principle-Based Phrase Structure' and its applications in languages, while eliminating redundant phrase structure rules and some versions of the X-bar theory. Phrase structure will be derived as output of universal principles at each level of syntactic representation, rather than being stipulated as input. A 'Licensed Structure' is a well-formed phrase structure derived from universal principles such as Case and Theta Theory. The constraints which hold at DS as well as at other levels interact to yield the constraints on well-formed P-markers in a Licensed Structure. The results of this work suggest that the phrase structure component, together with the parameters of X-bar theory, can be entirely eliminated from Universal Grammar. The initial theoretical assumption in this study is that 'every element that appears in a well-formed structure must be licensed.' Licensing combines two distinct conditions: syntactic and semantic. Licensing conditions comprising LF as well as SS and DS are applied to both lexical and empty categories. The proposed Licensed Structure consists of universal licensing relations and a category projection module, and is constrained by the Licensing Principle. The Licensing Principle is an overriding general principle which can embrace the Projection Principle, Full Interpretation, the Extended Projection Principle, Predication, and various subtheories in UG, such as Case Theory and Theta Theory. The variety of subrules in UG can be significantly reduced, perhaps to one condition, 'Licensing,' while increasing explanatory power without sacrificing descriptive power. In a principle-based Licensed Structure, the notions of 'specifier,' 'complement,' 'head,' 'maximality,' 'subject,' and 'topic' are consequently derived from non-phrase structure origins by means of the Licensing Principle. It follows that the above notions are 'relational' and 'functional. ' A modular theory of phrase structure allows us to give explicit definitions for all and only those notions of structural prominence which are necessary in the grammar.

 
 
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