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Adjective incorporation and the morphosyntactic interface

Abdulrahman Almansour

Ph.D. Thesis, 2004


The main goal of this thesis is to uncover the component of Universal Grammar where a morphologically-complex de-adjectival verb is formed. We show that although the internal structure of morphologically-complex de-adjectival causatives is empirically and theoretically predicted to be opaque to phrase-level operations (Borer 1991; Li, in press), syntactic processes and descriptions are not oblivious to the internal structure of that derived structure in Oromo and Amharic. In Chapter One, we present the syntactic constraints that preclude the realization of the adjectival properties of the adjective in derived de-adjectival causatives. In Chapter Two, we elucidate the structural properties of the causative constriction in Oromo and Amharic. In Chapter Three, we present several diagnostics that conclusively suggest the presence of a syntactic adjective phrase in the underlying structure of de-adjectival causatives in the two languages in question. Building on a well-motivated assumption that there is no well-formed syntactic structure into which a synthetic de-adjectival verb might project (Li, in press), we advance in Chapter Four an argument to the effect that both members of those derived de-adjectival causatives are lexically independent. The syntactic transparency of the de-adjectival causatives in Oromo and Amharic follows because all members are independent in the syntactic component. Having ruled out the responsibility of the syntactic component for forming de-adjectival causatives in Oromo and Amharic, we contend that the burden of explanation should be shifted from it to the mapping between the syntax and the phonology. Inspired by work done in distributed morphology (Halle & Marantz 1993), we maintain that the merger of the members of de-adjectival causatives takes place post-syntactically in intermediate level of representation called morphological structure. We show that this merger is constrained by strict adjacency requirements imposed by the mapping to the phonological structure..

Department of Linguistics University of Wisconsin-Madison

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