Feature Geometry and Head-Splitting in the Wolof clausal periphery
Martina Martinović
October 2019

This paper is a study of the morphosyntax of the clausal periphery in the Niger-Congo language Wolof, specifically the two layers commonly labeled CP and TP/InflP. I investigate how these layers are related, and how their relationship should best be modeled. Two issues are at the core of this work: the connection between the heads traditionally called C and T/Infl, and the distribution of syntactic features across heads in the functional spine. It has long been noted that the head that hosts the complementizer (usually C) and the head that hosts the subject (usually T/Infl) share a number of properties, which has lead to various formal implementations of the relationship between C and T, most recently in the form of a theory of Feature Inheritance, according to which all formal features are generated on phase heads and appear on lower heads only by being passed down (Chomsky 2005, 2008; Richards 2007, 2011). It is also a long-standing observation that languages differ in the amount of structure over which functional features are distributed. For example, tense, mood, and agreement can be expressed on multiple heads in some languages, and contained on one head in others (e.g. Giorgi and Pianesi 1996; Bobaljik and Thráinsson 1998), as can features found on Voice and v (Pylkkänen 2002, 2008; Harley 2017), and elsewhere. In this paper I propose a structure-building mechanism which can explain both the C-T relationship, and the variation in the distribution of features over syntactic heads. I argue that features of C and T are bundled together, and that this feature bundle can be divided into multiple heads via a mechanism I call Head-Splitting, which allows parts of feature bundles to reproject and create new heads. The proposal is illustrated through a detailed exploration of the C-Infl domain in Wolof, which turns out to be highly relevant for the advancement of our understanding of the link between syntactic positions at the clausal periphery and the distribution of features that inhabit them.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/004820
(please use that when you cite this article)
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keywords: cartography, non-cartography, head reprojection, feature inheritance, head-splitting, wolof, syntax
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