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On the Interpretation of Differentially Marked vs. Unmarked Direct Objects in Romanian – with an Emphasis on Romance and Germanic Languages

Publication: Limba română: direcții actuale în cercetarea lingvistică. Actele celui de-al 11-lea Colocviu Internațional al Departamentului de Lingvistică, I, p. 265
Editors:Rodica Zafiu, Adina Dragomirescu, Alexandru Nicolae
Publisher:Editura Universității din București
Abstract:The paper is a study of comparative grammar which presents from a complex perspective the syntax and the semantics of the Direct Object (DO) in Romance languages (such as Spanish, Romanian – to which most of the paper is devoted) and in Germanic languages (from among which the author selects German and Dutch as the most representative to the expense of English, on account of its rigid word ordering). The Romance and the Germanic languages under study put forth an interesting contrast with respect to the syntax and the interpretation of the direct object. However, the typological contrast is not a genetic one. The DO in Turkish, for instance, has certain properties which are very much similar to its counterpart in Romanian (languages of type B), whereas the DO in Hungarian behaves along the same lines as its counterpart in the Germanic languages (languages of type A).
The theoretical axis of the paper is represented by the minimalist syntax, the study itself putting forth a parametric dimension separating the languages of type A (e.g. German, Hungarian) from those of type B (Romance languages, Turkish). The structural difference between these two groups of languages amounts to the fact that the latter differentially mark their direct objects while the former do not. The Differential Object Marking mechanism has important consequences both from a syntactic point of view and from an interpretive one.
We study the way in which the two groups of languages express binding relations and relative scope relations. Thus, the topic of the paper concerns the interface between Logical Form (LF) and the Intentional-Conceptual Component which has the role to construct an interpretation of the LF put forth by the syntax.
The differential marking of the direct object (DOM) is undertaken by means of various mechanisms which differ from language to language. In the case of Romanian, the DOM is generally looked upon as a marking mechanism of a prominent direct object in the accusative case by means of the preposition PE. The paper advances the idea that in the case of Romanian, DOM is a complex phenomenon encompassing three syntactic properties bearing on distinctive interpretive effects: a) PE marking, b) post-verbal clitic doubling c) pre-verbal clitic doubling (Clitic Left Dislocation).
As opposed to Romanian, English, Dutch, German and Hungarian do not present the phenomena of marking by means of the prepositional accusative, Clitic doubling or Clitic Left Dislocation. As mentioned above, the paper focuses on the way in which the two groups of languages express binding relations and scope interaction. Non-DOM languages rely on the c-command configuration in resolving both binding relations and scope relations: the quantifier which has wide scope c-commands the narrow scoping quantifier; similarly, the antecedent must always c-command the element containing the bound pronoun. As a consequence, a natural way of assigning wide scope to a quantifier in languages such as German consists in moving it to the left. The movement of the DO to the left of the subject, enables the former to bind the latter and to have wide scope over it. In DOM languages, the c-command configuration is not decisive: the direct object may bind the subject (or a part of it) without c-commanding it in the same time; likewise, a quantifier may take scope over another without c-commanding it.
Thus, the paper draws a parametric difference between configurational languages (wherein binding and quantificational differences are closely linked to the c-command configurations and are sensitive to leftward movement) and non-configurational languages, where the same semantic properties can be derived from the internal structure of the direct object (the chain put forth by the direct object).
Language: English

Citations to this publication: 1

References in this publication: 2

12Martine Coene, Larisa AvramNull objects and accusative clitics in RomanianBWPL, XI (1)2009pdf
5Alexandra CornilescuOn Clitic Doubling and Parasitic Gaps in RomanianRRL, LI (1), 23-422006pdf

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