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A structural account of DGS

Following current assumptions, DGS is a head-final language. This implies that the VP and the IP are head-final in this language; hence, the structure of a simple declarative clause is commonly represented as in (70) (Hanel 2005; Happ & Vorkoper 2005; Pfau 2001; Pfau & Gluck 1999).

Note that we use the generic notion of inflection phrase (IP) for the functional layer above the VP, without going into further detail as to whether further functional projections are needed (Split-INFL analysis, cf. section 2.1.2), or some feature specifications are inserted at a later point (for a more detailed account of the derivation of inflected forms in DGS, based on the Distributed Morphology approach, cf. Gluck and Pfau 2000: 432). Implicit to what we consider to be a working proposal for the structure of DGS is the assumption that head-movement (from V to I) applies in all constructions with finite verbs (hence, also in those with plain verbs). As outlined in section 2.1.2, our analysis is based on the assumption that verb raising is motivated by the requirement that the temporal, aspectual and agreement features of the verb are picked up viz. checked in I (Hae- geman 1994).

As illustrated in example (71) (from Hanel 2005: 108), the verb is raised from its base position to I, and subject and object NPs[1] (or pros) to SpecIP and SpecVP respectively. Notice further that (71) is a construction with an agreement verb in which subject and object arguments may remain lexically empty (see also examples (72) and (73) below). By assumption (Hanel 2005: 108), empty subjects and objects in constructions like (71) represent instances of the empty pronoun pro.

For further illustration see examples (72) and (73) (Happ & Vorkoper (2006: 415, our transl.). Notice that the referents are unambiguously marked by the agreement verb forms in (72) and so are the objects marked by the classifier verb forms (provided the forms are sufficiently contrasting in shape) in (73). Following the assumption that agreement is also marked in constructions with classifying verbs, such constructions are also captured by the structure provided in (71). In other words, we assume that in classifier constructions feature sharing between the classifier morpheme and the respective argument involves a structural relationship between the (argument) NPs and the verb (spec-head agreement). The grammatical processes involve a functional projection above the VP, which we assume to be represented by the IP layer in (71). We will not delve here with issues concerning the derivation of inflected forms (but see Gluck & Pfau 1997; 1999 for detailed discussions).

Turning to constructions with referential shift, we basically follow Lillo-Martin (1995: 161-163) and Herrmann & Steinbach (2007: 171) and assume that referential shift (role shift in Herrmann and Steinbach’s terms) consists of a biclausal structure. POV (Point-of-view), used to indicate the referential shift, is assumed to be a predicate that takes a clausal complement. It agrees with the subject (by being produced at its location). As a consequence, any 1pronouns in the POV are logo- phoric (which means, as remarked upon previously, that they are interpreted as coreferential with the subject of the POV). During discourse stretches, the referential shift can be maintained whereby every other sentence is assumed to contain a null subject followed by a POV. According to Lillo-Martin (1995: 163) this is the case because the physical manifestation of POV continues to be present.

Following Herrmann & Steinbach (2007: 172-3) we will assume that constructions with a referential shift, independently of the function they serve, involve CP-recursion (cf. (74)). The POV is placed in the head of the C-domain. The operator PVOp accounts for the non-manual marking and binding of indexical expressions. The expanded CP can be embedded into a matrix clause.


  • [1] Hanel (2005: 108) follows Koopman and Sportiche in representing the canonical subject position in Vmax as NP* and NPA as the subject position in IP.
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