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quinta-feira, 4 de fevereiro de 2010

The Syntax of Determiners in Hebrew (Gabi Danon)

Gabi Danon: The Syntax of Determiners in Hebrew

Despite many advances in the understanding of the syntax of noun phrases, the position of determiners and the distributional restrictions they exhibit raise many unsolved problems. Abney's (1987) DP Hypothesis has led to new approaches to these problems, but it accounts mainly for articles in languages such as English, not giving a systematic account of other kinds of determiners.

This paper centers on determiners in Hebrew, and tries to give a unified account which links the following properties of Hebrew:

  • Most determiners have two (synonymous) forms, the one derived from the other by the same morphology that derives nominal heads of construct-state nominals; these two forms appear in complementary distribution.
  • Definiteness, which is marked by a bound morpheme rather than by a lexical article, acts like a syntactic feature on par with phi-features; indefiniteness isn't marked at all.
  • Certain determiners, those that have overt plural morphology, have a different syntactic distribution from those that lack such morphology.

The main hypothesis of this work is that Hebrew has no lexical category 'Determiner'; instead, I claim that determiners are actually nouns, which differ syntactically from "ordinary" nouns only in terms of their formal number features. Under the framework of Chomsky's (1993, 1994, 1995) Minimalist Program, and assuming basically a variant of Ritter's (1991) analysis of construct-state nominals suggested in Siloni (1994), an account is given of the syntactic difference between determiners and other nouns, and of the alternations and restrictions among the class of determiners.

Finally, two phenomena related to determiners are discussed and analyzed under the hypothesis sketched above: "bare" determiners, and floating quantifiers. The proposed structure for Hebrew DPs involving determiners leads to a natural analysis of these phenomena.

Download the entire thesis, in PDF format.

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