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Parametrization of Features in Syntax
Sze-Wing Tang (1998)
University of California, Irvine
Dissertation Committee: Profs. C.-T. James Huang (Chair), Naoki Fukui, and Y.-H. Audrey Li

The major focus of this study is to propose a restrictive theory of parameters of Universal Grammar in terms of the principles-and-parameters approach. I propose that semantic features are invariant across languages; only features that may play a role in the derivation from the numeration N to the PF interface level including phonetic features, categorial features, and affix features are subject to parametric variation, which is called the 'Overt Parametrization Hypothesis' (OPH).

It is argued that where affix features are associated with a word is subject to parametric variation. Movement is largely determined by morphology: movement in the overt component can be signaled by impoverished' morphology; movement of morphologically 'rich' elements takes place in the phonological component. Under this approach, a variety of syntactic differences among Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), English, French, Japanese, Navajo, and Hebrew can be accounted for.

Based on the idea of parametrization of affix features, I claim that T has an affix feature [-V] in English. Such an affix feature is missing in Chinese. Consequently, there is no V-to-T movement in Chinese and V moves out of vP in English. A number of apparently disparate differences between these two languages, including postverbal no-phrases, the distribution of focus elements, binominal each, the 'SOV' focalization construction, scopal ambiguity of quantifiers, definiteness of preverbal numeral phrases, gapping, and heavy NP shift, receive a unified explanation.

The data presented as evidence for the claim that categorial features are subject to parametric variation are primarily based on small clauses in Chinese, English, and Japanese. It is argued that Chinese small clauses are bare, English small clauses are 'not-so-bare', and Japanese allows both types of small clauses. The major typological differences among these languages regarding the structure of small clauses are derived from a parameter related to the combination of categorial features of nouns and adjectives. The findings lend support to the OPH.