Germanic x-to-C

Tom Leu (Yale University)
Event time: 
Friday, March 5, 2010 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm
Event description: 

This talk aims at unifying two distinctly Germanic morphosyntactic surface alterations that have received a lot of attention but have, hitherto, not been related to one another: verb placement and adjectival inflection. First, verb placement in Germanic is characterized by an alternation between a low position, and a left peripheral, i.e. verb second, position. The latter obtains in matrix clauses, the former is typical of embedded clauses. Secondly, Germanic attributive adjectives are characterized by a morphological alternation in that adjectival inflection is sensitive to definiteness. I propose that the two alternations derive from the same underlying process. The lexical head of an extended projection sometimes moves to the left periphery, e.g. V-to-C. When it does not, “C” is typically realized as ‘d-.’ This simple generalization captures at once the basic pattern of verb placement and the weak/strong adjectival inflection alternation. It is further responsible, I argue, for a third alternation, namely the parametric contrast between North- and West-Germanic in the extended projection of the noun, i.e. between a suffixed and a free prenominal definite article.

Event Type: 
Syntax Colloquium