Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Demonstratives in motion: The grammaticalization of demonstratives as a window into synchronic phenomena
by Ferrazzano, Lisa Reisig, Ph.D., City University of New York, 2013, 275; 3601868
Abstract (Summary)

There is significant variation in the literature on how demonstratives are characterized semantically, leading to divergent syntactic analyses of demonstratives. A major source of this disagreement regards how distance specifications relate to the demonstrative: whether [+/− speaker] is an integral property of the demonstrative or not. I argue that distance-marking divides the class of demonstratives into strong and weak, along the lines of what Cardinaletti and Starke (1999) propose for pronouns. Strong demonstratives possess a [+/− speaker] feature, while weak demonstratives have a neutral [speaker] feature, corresponding to a distance-neutral interpretation, and the pragmatic notion of immediate accessibility of the referent (Lyons 1999).

The diachronic component of this work serves as a lens through which to view the demonstrative’s synchronic behavior. I argue that the process of grammaticalization (Meillet 1912) allows us to ‘see’ certain aspects of a demonstrative’s meaning (and, I argue, corresponding internal syntactic structure) getting peeled away as the demonstrative evolves. Latin ille and spoken Finnish se provide evidence that demonstratives pass through a distance-neutral phase before being analyzed as definite articles, suggesting that strong and weak demonstratives should receive distinct analyses in the synchronic domain. I argue that strong and weak demonstratives can be viewed as synchronic imprints of a diachronic process.

In addition to teasing apart different semantic types of demonstratives, this dissertation seeks to identify differences between demonstratives and definite articles. I propose that the demonstrative is specified for (i) [(+/−) speaker], (ii) [+contrastive] (encoding contrast), and (iii) [+identifiability], and that these features are encoded on functional heads in the extended projection of the demonstrative. The complex demonstrative is merged in a dedicated functional projection ([Spec, TrackerAdjP) within the DP. The definite article, in contrast, expresses only [+identifiability], and is merged directly in the DP projection. I argue that the common core of [+identifiability] helps explain the synchronic and diachronic dependency between the demonstrative and the DP projection, and sheds light on our discussion on the phenomenon of apparent ‘double definiteness.’

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Tortora, Christina
Commitee: Otheguy, Ricardo, den Dikken, Marcel
School: City University of New York
Department: Linguistics
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 75/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics
Keywords: Demonstratives, Grammaticalization, Romance languages, Semantics, Synchronic phenomena, Syntax
Publication Number: 3601868
ISBN: 978-1-303-53589-5
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