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The linearization of affixes : evidence from Nuu-chah-nulth Wojdak, Rachel

Abstract

This dissertation addresses the linearization of affixes, and argues for a particular model of the way in which syntax maps to phonology. According to the proposal, syntax is spelled-out to phonology in minimal cycles equivalent to a single application of syntactic Merge (cf. Epstein et al. 1999). I term this proposal the local spell-out hypothesis. The empirical grounds on which this hypothesis is assessed is Nuu-chah-nulth (Nootka), a Southern Wakashan language spoken in British Columbia, Canada. Nuu-chah-nulth has a class of morphologically bound predicates termed affixal predicates which participate in a linearization strategy of suffixation. I claim that affixes in Nuu-chah-nulth are linearized at spell-out with respect to 'hosts' as a consequence of the PF requirement that utterances be sequentially ordered. Spell-out induces in Nuu-chah-nulth a relationship which I label PF Incorporation. The affixal predicate 'incorporates' its host in order to achieve a pronounceable form, that of a linearized affix. An affixal predicate in Nuu-chah-nulth consistently suffixes to a host chosen from its derivational sister, its complement. This suffixation pattern is subject to a string adjacency effect: an affixal predicate incorporates only the leftmost element from its complement, which happens to be contiguous with the affixal predicate. I present the argument that the local spellout hypothesis elegantly captures this dual sensitivity to derivational sisterhood and linear adjacency. Although the spell-out mechanism which induces linearization of affixes is nonsyntactic, syntactic sisterhood conditions linearization opportunities at PF via the composition of local spell-out domains. This dissertation presents a variety of diagnostics for Nuu-chah-nulth clausal structure, with a particular focus on the argument structure of affixal predicates. Amongst affixal predicates which take nominal complements, predicates range from unaccusative to extended unaccusative, transitive to ditransitive. Unergatives, however, are systematically absent from the inventory of affixal predicates in Nuu-chah-nulth. Amongst affixal predicates which take verbal complements, both modal and main predicates are found. A consequence of the analysis is that syntax is 'phonologized' over the course of the derivation, in minimal stages induced by application of Merge. Linearization is thus established in increments. This analysis has implications for the grammatical locus of head movement operations: head movement is not strictly phonological (contra Chomsky 1995, 2001).

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