Feature geometry and head-splitting: Evidence from the Wolof clausal periphery
Martina Martinović
September 2015

This thesis is a study of the Wolof clausal periphery, focusing on the morphosyntax of the two layers commonly identified as CP and TP, covering two larger topics: the nature of the C-T link, and the interaction of syntax and morphology (post-syntax) in the CP-TP layer. It has long been noted that C and T are not completely independent of one another, but share a host of properties. Wolof clausal periphery is highly relevant for the advancement of our understanding of the C-T link, as Wolof clauses contain overt sentence particles – complementizer-like elements argued to encode information-structural properties of utterances, which interact in various ways with the elements traditionally thought to occupy the TP-layer. Wolof provides interesting type of evidence for the C-T link, as in some of its clause-types C and T appear not to be heading two separate projections, while they display the traditional C-T division in other clauses. The first main claim of this dissertation is that features commonly associated with C and T start out on a single head, which can either remain unified, or be split into two heads (as already implemented in various ways in e.g. Chomsky 2005, 2007, 2008; Richards 2007, 2001; Fortuny 2008; Ouali 2008). To capture the fact that in Wolof, as well as in many other languages, features occurring on C and T are not doubled on the two heads, I propose a highly derivational model of head-reprojection, which relies on hierarchically organized features on the unified CT head, and a strict order in which they must be checked (as in, e.g. Manetta 2006, Georgi & Müller 2010, Müller 2010). I identify circumstances in which only parts of the CT head, dominated by a feature that, for well-defined reasons, could not be checked, split off and remerge in a higher position, thus yielding the traditional C-T split. The second major topic of the dissertation concerns the interaction of the syntactic and the post-syntactic component of the grammar. By inspecting the morphosyntactic reflexes of A’-movement and the behaviour of inflectional morphology in V-to-C raising in Wolof, I show that much of the apparent syntactic variation can be attributed to cross-linguistically common morphological processes taking place in the post-syntactic component of the grammar, thus following a growing body of research concerned with the details of the syntax/post-syntax interface (e.g. Arregi & Nevins 2012). In the process of uncovering the specifics of this interaction in Wolof, I argue for a much more interactive syntax-morphology interface than is commonly assumed, which allows for outputs of the post-syntactic component to be fed back into syntax and participate in further operations. The main contribution of the dissertation is a demonstration of how a more refined view of both syntactic elements smaller than the word (i.e. features) and of morphology and its interaction with better understood syntactic processes offers a new way of approaching surface variation in the syntactic component. I ultimately argue that syntax is cross-linguistically very uniform, even if we look at a strongly discourse-configurational language such as Wolof.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/002728
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: University of Chicago Dissertation
keywords: head-splitting, head-reprojection, feature geometry, syntax-morphology interface, wh-movement, head movement, morphology, syntax, wh-extraction effects
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