Beyond Nominative: A broader view of A'-dependencies in Tagalog
Henrison Hsieh
September 2020

This thesis investigates A′-dependency constructions in Tagalog and their interactions with the Philippine-type voice and subject/pivot-marking system, a central topic in research on the syntax of this language. Prominently, Tagalog is known to restrict the formation of such constructions, such that only the syntactically privileged subject/pivot argument of a clause, as determined by the voice form of the verb, may serve as a valid target for the dependency. Much existing work on Tagalog clause structure thus devotes some attention to the derivation of this restriction. However, it is less commonly discussed that instances of A′-dependencies in Tagalog exist that do not conform in some way to this extraction restriction. These can be divided by the nature of the target into two classes, each raising a major question about the syntax of Tagalog that has not been adequately addressed in the literature. First are dependencies that target PPs and other non-DP dependents of a clause. These may consistently be targeted to form A′-dependencies, regardless of the voice form of the verb and the presence of a distinct subject/pivot. However, such exceptional behavior is in some sense independent of the restriction, as non-DP A′-dependencies are formed using structures that are not available to the restriction-conforming dependencies. Consequently, we can ask how this structural asymmetry between DP and non-DP A′-dependencies is derived. Second are dependencies that target non-subject/non-pivot DP dependents of a clause, which represent clear exceptions to the restriction, as they are structurally parallel to the restriction-conforming cases, but nevertheless target a non-subject/non-pivot argument unexpectedly. Crucially, these exceptions exhibit a distribution that is sensitive to structural factors such as clause type and the internal/external argument distinction. Here, we can ask what explains the distribution of these restriction-violating cases. The main contribution of this thesis is thus to bring attention to this broader range of A′-dependency phenomena and the questions they raise, and consider their implications for the syntax of Tagalog. To the latter end, this thesis proposes that DPs and non-DPs in Tagalog show a difference in movement possibilities stemming from Case. Concretely, it is proposed that movement of DPs in this language is highly restricted due to a locality restriction on abstract Case licensing, so that if a DP moves, it must move to a(nother) position where Case is assigned, otherwise it will not have an interpretable Case value. A result of this is that Tagalog cannot form A′-dependencies of DPs via movement to a left peripheral position in the conventional sense, as such positions are not typically Case positions. Instead, a non-movement analysis is put forth for the formation of such dependencies, whereby a null pronoun, pro, introduces a semantic variable that is bound higher in the structure, subject to certain locality constraints. It is shown that this non-movement approach not only derives the DP A′-dependency cases that conform to the well-known restriction in Tagalog, but also helps us understand the DP dependencies that violate it. Specifically, the distribution of pro in such instances is argued to be linked to a handful of independently available syntactic operations and environments that allow the aforementioned locality constraints to be satisfied. On the other hand, it is proposed that non-DPs are able to undergo movement more freely because they do not require Case, and therefore that the difference in freedom of movement derives a prominent and consistent structural asymmetry between DP and non-DP A′-dependencies.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/005856
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: PhD Dissertation, McGill University
keywords: tagalog, a-bar movement, extraction restriction, austronesian voice, case, syntax
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