Non-Verbal Predication and Headmovement. Ph.D. Dissertation MIT, Cambridge Massachussetts

Carnie, Andrew (1995) Head Movement and Non-Verbal Predication. Massachussetts Institute of Technology.


This thesis surveys the interaction between non-verbal predication in matrix clauses and processes of head-movement. Focusing mainly on the syntax of Modern Irish nominal predicates, it is claimed that matrix non-verbal predication can occur without any verbal support. When this happens, non-verbal predicates bear inflectional features directly and behave just like verbs with respect to processes of head-movement. In particular, it is claimed that non-verbal predicates raise through the inflectional complex to the highest inflectional head, just like verbal predicates in matrix VSO clauses.

It is also claimed that complex phrasal predicates are allowed to undergo head-movement, contra many standard assumptions. A new theory of phrase structure is proposed, where phrasal status (i.e. X-bar status) is determined by behavior of the phrase-marker involved, rather than the status determining the behavior. This derived notion of X-bar status is shown to account for a variety of phenomena from a variety of languages (such as construct state nominals in Celtic and Tagalog clitic placement).

The thesis also argues that the distribution of word order types from Irish copular clauses argues against a unified or single be analysis. It is claimed that at least two types of copular construction: a one placed predicative construction, and a two placed equative contstruction are present in the grammar. Structural assymetries between the two arguments in equative constructions are shown to follow from their behavior with respect to theta marking.

Finally, a new analysis of Verb-Subject-Object (VSO) order is presented which accounts for a wide variety of phenomena, including non-verbal predicates, in the syntax of Modern Irish. This analysis makes use of verb raising, a split VP structure, and a new view of clausal architecture.

Dissertation Committee: Kenneth Hale (chair), Morris Halle, Alec Marantz, David Pesetsky

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Summary and Review

A summary of the dissertation and a review by Peter Svenonius appeared in Glot 3.8:

Carnie, Andrew (1998) Dissertation Summary. Glot International 3.8, 10-15* (followed by review of dissertation written by Peter Svenonious of Lund University.) Download

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