BE-ing Default: the Morphosyntax of Auxiliaries [phdthesis]
Bronwyn Bjorkman
September 2011

In this dissertation I argue that auxiliary verbs, particularly auxiliary BE, arise as a reflex of general morphosyntactic processes of verbal inflection, rather than due to arbitrary factors such as syntactic selection. More specifically, I propose that auxiliary verbs reflect a failure of the inflectional system to unite inflectional material with a main verb. This failure occurs when inflectional features are not structurally local to the main verb and are thus "stranded". If stranded inflectional features are affixal, they trigger the insertion of a totally default verb (BE) within the morphological component, much as in the traditional analysis of DO-support framed in terms of the Stray Affix Filter (Lasnik, 1981). I frame the structural locality constraints on inflection in terms of Agree (Chomsky 1998, et seq.), but I adopt a “reverse” formulation of Agree in order to allow inflectional feature values to be passed downward from functional heads onto the main verb. This approach contributes to an increasing body of recent work arguing that a "reversed" directionality for Agree must be available (Baker 2008, Zeijlstra 2010, Wurmbrand 2011, a.o.). Subsequent chapters extend this general approach into a variety of related domains: the alternation between HAVE and BE in auxiliary selection, the conflict between this analysis of BE and the traditional analysis of DO-support as a process that rescues stranded inflection, and the interaction of verbal inflection and auxiliaries with counterfactual inflection marking.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/001354
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: MIT
keywords: syntax, morphology, verbal inflection, auxiliary verbs, auxiliary selection, counterfactuals, do-support, morphology, syntax
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