Illocutionary complementisers and utterance syntax
Alice Corr
December 2016

This dissertation examines the syntax of so-called ‘illocutionary complementisers’ —that is, the repurposing of the finite complementiser que ‘thət’ to introduce matrix clauses, with a range of utterance-related functions— across Ibero-Romance. Offering original comparative data from a range of predominantly European varieties standard and non-standard, we argue that the distinct interpretation and behaviour of each of the three types of illocutionary complementiser examined necessitates a revision and expansion of the clausal left-edge to incorporate utterance-oriented information within a dedicated domain above the CP. Chapter 2 argues that Ibero-Romance vocatives and discourse particles exhibit syntactic behaviour which cannot be accounted for within a clausal architecture whose topmost layer is the CP. Instead, these utterance-oriented items’ behaviour and sentential distribution is indicative of an internally-articulated dedicated utterance field, which we call the Utterance Phrase (UP), above the CP, divisible into a higher, externally-oriented layer and a lower, internally-oriented layer (itself decomposable into dedicated projections for addressee and speaker). The remainder of the dissertation describes and analyses three types of illocutionary complementiser attested in Ibero-Romance, and shows that each item differs from the others not only in interpretation, but also in terms of their formal and distributional properties, and availability across Ibero-Romance dialects. Only one of these complementisers (quotative que, Chapter 4) patterns like a C-head; the other two (exclamative and conjunctive que, in Chapters 3 and 5 respectively) show distinct behaviour which we argue is evidence that they lexicalise separate U-heads within an expanded and revised cartographic left-periphery. The bundling of features on functional heads at the UP/CP boundary —the locus of the split Rizzian ForceP, or Speas & Tenny’s (2003) SentienceP— is unique to European Portuguese, contrasting with feature-scattering (following Giorgi & Pianesi 1997) across projections in other Peninsular Ibero-Romance varieties. This variation in feature distribution is argued to be responsible for microparametric differences in the availability and behaviour of illocutionary complementisers across Ibero-Romance. The compositionality of sentence-typing; fine-grained differences in the specification of complementisers; and gradient judgments on the constructions in which the illocutionary complementisers participate are also accounted for in these terms. The dissertation proposes that, despite the progressive obsolescence of such items in standard, contemporary European Portuguese, the ubiquity of matrix illocutionary complementisers in European/Peninsular Ibero-Romance is a defining characteristic of this branch of the Romance languages. On the view that their loss in European Portuguese is counterbalanced by verb-based mechanisms for sentence- and illocutionary-typing, Chapter 6 concludes by exploring the possibility that the prevalence of illocutionary complementisers, and other utterance-oriented elements, correlates inversely with verb height.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/003386
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: University of Cambridge
keywords: complementizers, cp, speech acts, up, utterance, discourse, sap, main clause phenomena, syntax, ibero-romance, spanish, portuguese, catalan, galician, dialect syntax, cartography, performative hypothesis
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