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Phrase structure and verb movement in Hebrew and English imperatives Strauss, Uri Neill

Abstract

This thesis investigates two questions about imperatives. The first is whether their phrase structure is similar to or different from the phrase structure of declaratives. The second is what the movement properties of imperative verbs are, and whether they are the same as the movement properties of other verb types. Both of these questions are investigated in English and Hebrew. It is shown that Hebrew has three distinct types of syntactic imperatives, each corresponding to a different morphological paradigm - one uniquely imperative, one identical to the future tense, and one identical to the infinitive. A variety of tests in the two languages, including licensing of negative polarity items, occurrence of VP ellipsis, and the presence of a subject/object asymmetry in embedded negatives, provide evidence that imperative phrase structure is essentially the same as the basic phrase structure of declarative clauses familiar from the syntactic literature. To test the extent of verb movement, a three-way distinction in adverb types is proposed, and the position of the verb is determined by its placement relative to each type of adverb. This test shows that in English, imperative verbs move to the same extent that other nonfinite verbs do, while in Hebrew, imperatives have unique movement properties, and are forced to raise higher than finite or infinitive verbs are.

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