Generating Copies: An Investigation into Structural Identity in Language and Grammar

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Abstract:
In this dissertation I provide a directly compositional semantics for minimalist grammars, which allows us to view the derivation as the only relevant syntactic structure, thereby eliminating all non-interface levels, and obtaining a system similar in this respect to categorial grammar. I give an explicit account of a fragment of English consisting of passivization, raising, control, and expletive-it, which accounts for quantifier scope ambiguities. The system is quite minimal; there are no trans-derivational economy conditions, no preferences for merge over move, no numerations, no lexical sub-arrays. Instead, all operations are feature driven, and there is a single economy condition, the Principle of Immediacy, which simply requires that features be checked as soon as the appropriate configuration arises.
I add copy movement to the minimalist grammar system. I implement copying in two ways. Once with multiple dominance, treating copies as being derived only once, and once with synchronous derivation, treating each copy as having been derived. Both approaches are strongly equivalent, and generate only languages in P. Our semantics extends immediately to minimalist grammars with copying.
I turn next to the West African language Yoruba, which has constructions characterized by overt copying of VPs. As Yoruba also has serial verbs, there is no principled upper bound on the size of the copied VP. I give an explicit account of a fragment of Yoruba consisting of serialization and relative clauses, both over predicates (the so-called relativized predicate) and over nouns. Copying in Yoruba relativized predicates is not a straightforward matter, with the copy relation sometimes rendered opaque by other processes. However, our minimalist grammars with copying account elegantly for the range of copy possibilities, and assign natural structures to these copies, which no known mildly context sensitive formalism is capable of doing.
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