Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Complement Verb Variation in Present-Day Serbian
by Belic, Bojan, Ph.D., The Ohio State University, 2005, 231; 10834941
Abstract (Summary)

Strictly synchronically speaking, with verbs, nouns, and adjectives as heads of matrix clauses in a sentence, standard Serbian syntax allows for variation between a non-finite complement – that is, a complement headed by a verb not inflected for tense, grammatical person and number – and a finite complement – that is, a complement headed by a verb inflected for tense, grammatical person and number. The non-finite complement is exclusively headed by an infinitive, a non-finite verb form in Serbian, whereas the finite complement is headed by a present tense form, a finite verb form in Serbian, invariably introduced by a complementizer da 'that' and, at the same time, in full grammatical agreement in person and number with the matrix. The variation of the two complements, referred to here as complement variation in Serbian (CVS), is a well-known and a long-documented syntactic phenomenon, though never fully explained, at least not in syntactic terms.

In this study I offer a critical view of the previous scholarship about the phenomenon, after which I provide a novel account of CVS. I view the phenomenon from the position of the latest views of control, more specifically unique control as a general linguistic phenomenon.

I propose that the syntax of CVS is best understood if the role of all other factors responsible for CVS, such as dialectal, regional, socioloectal, idiolectal, semantic, and pragmatic factors, is minimized. I do exactly that in research that I conducted on a sample of native speakers from the territory of the city of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. The research decisively proved that there is indeed one syntactic factor that crucially determines which complement, infinitival or da+present, is chosen in CVS. The syntactic factor was the presence or absence in the syntax of the matrix of the controller of the complement. This was the basis for a formal theoretical account of CVS. I demonstrate that CVS, as an instantiation of unique control, operates according to the following formula: X ((α)) MATRIX (Yβ) [((α))/(β) COMPLEMENT].

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Joseph, Brian
Commitee:
School: The Ohio State University
Department: Slavic and East European Languages and Literatures
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 79/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Slavic literature
Keywords: Complementation, Serbian, Syntax, Variation
Publication Number: 10834941
ISBN: 978-0-355-94720-5
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