Narrative Structures in Colloquial English
Jamie Bailey
June 2020

This Master's thesis discusses the distributional and syntactic properties of three presentational constructions present in colloquial registers of some dialects of English. I hypothesise, following Barbiers (2005), that the structures are available to a large group of speakers, but that the reported acceptance of the structures is dependent on the exposure speakers receive to them as part of their linguistic input, which I term the Suppressed Grammaticality Hypothesis (SGH). I make use of an acceptability judgement survey to establish the nature of interspeaker variation in the UK and Ireland, and I argue that the results of the survey support the SGH. In addition, I draw a parallel between the restricted syntactic distribution of the presentational structures and those of apparent Complex NP Constraint violations in Scandinavian, Hebrew and other languages, building on work by Sichel (2018) to attribute this common pattern of variation to the same syntactic principles, namely Diesing’s (1992) proposal that only presuppositional DPs undergo movement to a derived syntactic position, whereas non-presuppositional DPs remain in a lower position. I further argue that one of the three structures fills the paradigmatic gap in English expletive–associate constructions, such that dialect speakers have the ability to form non-progressive monoclausal presentational structures, as well as the progressive structures to which speakers of the majority dialect are limited.
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Reference: lingbuzz/005475
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keywords: dialect syntax, presentational structures, presuppositionality, syntax
previous versions: v1 [June 2020]
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