The role of prefixation in the nominalizing process

Student thesis: Doctoral thesis


This work deals with the role of aspectual elements (affixes and prepositions) in syntactic structures. A central issue in this study is the syntactic behavior and the interpretation assigned to nominal structures derived on verbal bases. The thesis shows that the functional structure in nouns and verbs is aspectual in nature where prefixes and suffixes, being aspectual morphemes, determine both argument structure and interpretation in both types of derivatives.
The main empirical evidence that supports the theoretical proposals of this study comes from English and Bulgarian. These two languages have been chosen because they exhibit an apparently great degree of variation in their aspectual systems, which allows us to confirm some of the most recent cartographic proposals on the postulation of a universal hierarchy of functional aspectual features shared across languages. Bearing in mind that the functional aspectual structure is cross-linguistically uniform, it is argued that the observable cross-linguistic variation found between English and Bulgarian is a byproduct of the overt morphological means a given language has in order to express aspect. The general cartographic proposal concerning the way functional elements are linearzied in syntactic structure is exemplified and accounted for following some of the most recent theoretical approaches to inner aspect like the ones derived from syntactic neoconstructionist models together with some morphological models to syntactic structuring encompassed under the Distributed Morphology theory.
The thesis confirms the neoconstructionist proposal that the aspectual interpretation of a given construction essentially depends on the value assigned to a specific functional element by the syntactic context and that the cross-linguistic variation resides largely in the way in which value is assigned to the functional elements: directly (i.e. affixally) or indirectly (i.e. through the features of the internal arguments or prepositions). In order to better explain the cross-linguistic variation between English and Bulgarian, a contrast is established between the standard (Slavic) versus the biaspectual paradigms of Bulgarian, since the former instantiates the direct option whereas the latter abides to the indirect mode of valuation. It is shown that it is precisely because of morphological reasons that the biaspectual paradigm, which consists of borrowings, is forced to chose the indirect mode of range assignment in a similar fashion as the Germanic languages. It is thus demonstrated that inter- and intra-linguistic variation is the same kind of variation.
Date of Award13 Dec 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Department of Catalan Studies
SupervisorMaría del Carme Picallo Soler (Director)

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