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Detail of contribution

Auteur: Hilda KOOPMAN

The cartography of objects: on preverbal and postverbal objects

Abstract/Résumé: The point of departure for my talk is Greenberg’s (1966) Universal 20 and its syntactic modeling (Cinque, 2005). There is widespread agreement that pre-nominally an invariant hierarchical order of Merge (Dem(Num(A))) surfaces. Postnominally, a much greater variety of orders is attested. Overall, certain expected patterns are unattested. Cinque (2005) proposes that all orders are derived from a uniform syntactic hierarchy by leftwards movement of a constituent containing the nominal head, with various pied-piping options responsible for the greater opacity and variability of postnominal orders. Unattested orders cannot be derived by UG. Similar patterns are found in numerous other domains, which leads to the following "lesson": the order before a lexical head can be taken as a reasonably reliable indicator of the syntactic hierarchy (the order of Merge), but the order after a lexical head generally hides considerable structural ambiguity. The syntactic hierarchy gleaned from the alignments before the lexical head can be used to illuminate and guide the analysis of the post lexical domain which can often hide considerable structural ambiguity. This paper will do this by focusing on the distribution of objects and the different hierarchical positions they occupy, depending on whether they are weak pronouns, focused, definite/specific, quantified, specific indefinites or indefinites. Concentrating first on the alignment of different types of objects in head final languages, suggests a remarkable cross-linguistic uniformity, which can be taken as a direct window on the Universal order of Merge, and the way structures are built. I will use this hierarchy to the test to the post verbal domain for various Austronesian languages, and to some Germanic languages, where we see the same patterns emerge. The findings so far bring strong support to theories that assume a finely grained antisymmetric hierarchical syntactic structure from which surface constituents are constructed through Merge, with a much greater cross-linguistic stability and uniformity than is generally assumed.