Interface issues in the English imperative
Author(s)Flagg, Elissa Jill, 1974-
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Linguistics and Philosophy.
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Two puzzles in the syntax of the English imperative are treated here as consequences of interface conditions. The first concerns the inability of certain predicates to take an overt subject in the imperative. The second concerns the ungrammaticality of certain negative and emphatic imperatives with an overt subject. The investigation yields a deeper understanding of the role of LF and PF ineffability in the grammar. A widely encountered generalization holds that the overt subject is optional in the English imperative. Evidence is presented that this generalization is problematic on two counts. First, the presence vs. absence of an overt subject actually correlates with a subtle aspectual distinction. Related to this phenomenon, some imperatives actually disallow an overt subject. This work argues that overt subject licensing in the imperative occurs in a phrase projected from an aspectual feature that is incompatible with the semantic representation of stative predicates. Therefore, the restriction against overt subjects in imperatives with such predicates reflects not a failure in the syntactic component, but ineffability at the LF-interface, where the meaning representation of the predicate is incompatible with it the syntactic context it is embedded in. A second major puzzle in the imperative is that the overt subject is disallowed in negative/emphatic imperatives with do (not), yet allowed in negative imperatives with don't. This restriction on the occurrence of the overt subject is argued to stem from a disruption that the subject argument causes for the satisfaction of a morphological adjacency requirement of the sentential negation head [NEG], or its affirmative counterpart, [AFF].In this case, the unavailability of overt subjects in imperatives with do (not) stems not from a restriction in the syntax or semantics, but from ineffability at the PF-interface, where the overt subject exerts an intervention effect for a morphological adjacency requirement that holds between the polarity heads [NEG] and [AFF] and the verb. Chapter 1 provides background material and introduces previous attempts to explain the two major puzzles identified above. Chapter 2 deals with the semantic restriction on overt subject imperatives. In Chapter 3, the morphological adjacency disruption approach to the *do (not) subject puzzle is proposed. Consequences of this approach for the nature of head movement are explored, and a structural account of do-support under a PF head movement analysis is developed. Chapter 4 examines some consequences of the proposal in Chapter 3 for the phenomena of Auxiliary Reduction and Neg-raising in English.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Linguistics and Philosophy, 2002."September 2002."Includes bibliographical references (leaves 155-159).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Linguistics and Philosophy.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Linguistics and Philosophy.