Negative verb clusters in Mari and Udmurt and why they require postsyntactic top-down word-formation
Ekaterina Georgieva, Martin Salzmann, Philipp Weisser
August 2020

In this paper, we provide an in-depth study of the morphosyntactic behavior of negative verb clusters in the Finno-Ugric languages Udmurt and Mari. We argue that the standard treatment of negation as an auxiliary is inadequate for these languages as it does not explain its morphosyntactic and morphophonological behavior, which presents a challenging morphology-syntax-semantics mismatch: Despite taking high scope and governing the highest verb of the clause, negation surfaces immediately before the highest verb rather than at the end of the verb cluster as would be expected in head-final languages. Furthermore, we show that negation forms a complex unit with the highest verb of the clause and thus crucially differs from negative auxiliaries in other Finno-Ugric languages like Finnish and from other auxiliaries. We argue that the properties of negation are best modelled by means of postsyntactic Lowering (Embick and Noyer 2001). Next to the semantic vacuousness of the displacement, the main arguments for a postsyntactic perspective come from the internal constituency of the verb cluster, the possibility to interleave clitics inside the verb cluster only in the presence of negation, and cases where Lowering fails and a syntacto-semantically inert copula is inserted as a repair. We show that competing approaches to complex head formation based on narrow-syntactic head-movement, flexible spell-out in different positions or base-generation fail to capture the crucial properties of negative verb clusters. On a more general level, we thus provide evidence for the necessity of post-syntactic mechanisms for word formation and a serial architecture of the morphology-syntax interface.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/005393
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Natural Language and Linguistic Theory,
keywords: negation, finno-ugric, verb clusters, word formation, complex head formation, postsyntactic operations, lowering, morphology, syntax
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