?ON QUIRKY OBLIQUE SUBJECTS AND ECM COMPLEMENTATION ICELANDlC + The syntax of object shift in Icelandic
Author: David Bowden, Matthews, Kenneth,
Publisher: Memorial University of Newfoundland,Department of Linguistics
Publication date: 2010/2000
Number of pages: 121+187
The syntactic position occupied by ECM complements is highly debated in the literature with no definitive answer currently available. This is problematic since the unknown nature of the position obscures our understanding of a universal theory of syntax. This thesis examines the debate through the lens of the Icelandic language which exhibits a cross-linguistically rare phenomenon termed Quirky Case, or AllkaJallsjmmlag in Icelandic scholarship, whereby speakers can employ oblique forms in subject position.
This mismatch of morphological case and grammatical function, evident in the Icelandic language, is therefore an ideal environment within which to explore the contested nature of exceptionally case marked nouns.
The syntax of object shift in Icelandic
The focus of this thesis is an investigation of object shift in Icelandic within the Minimalist framework. Object shift here involves movement of a direct object or an indirect object from base position to a position higher in the syntactic structure. Adverb placement is often employed as evidence for object shift: in situ elements follow, and shifted elements precede a sentential adverb such as negation. — A description of the object shift phenomenon is presented in Chapter One. Background research is discussed, including a description of Icelandic verb properties by Holmberg and Platzack (1995), an investigation of the category E by Travis (1994), and work on negator movement by Moritz and Valois (1994). — Chapter Two illustrates various hypotheses concerning the syntactic derivation of the word order combinations involved in (double) object shift, with an emphasis on Icelandic data. These include work by Groat and O’Neil (1996), Collins and Thrainsson (1993), and Bobaljik (1995). Problems with each of the proposals are laid out after the respective analyses. — Chapter Three represents an alternative analysis to the previous works. The analysis assumes the lowest position of an indefinite subject and the vP-external position of a shifted direct object to be the same position [Spec, EP]; and overt Shift of the negator to [Spec, NegP] is proposed. Object shift is derived by a process whereby the presence of strong features is triggered in a head whose maximal projection is immediately dominated by the maximal projection of another head which itself contains strong features. The implication of the latter is that shift of an indirect object alone is actually shifting of the indirect object, the negator, and the direct object to higher positions. The posibility of vP-internal shift of the direct object is also raised.