Chih-hsiang Shu

Stony Brook University
Talk Title: 
Sentence Adverbs in the Kingdom of Agree
Event Type: 
Dissertation Defense
Thursday, May 19, 2011, 9:00 am - 11:00 am
SBS S207

'Sentence Adverbs in the Kingdom of Agree'
Abstract: Current theories of adverbial syntax generally fail to capture the fact that sentence adverbs are focusing adverbs and are thus unable to account for many of the word order facts cross-linguistically. What also needs to be updated is the consequence of recent advances in the minimalist program for the adverbial syntax, which is also absent in the literature. This dissertation provides answers to both problems. The main proposal is that sentence adverbs, as well as focusing adverbs in general, are ‘inflectional affixes with large’. This captures the similarity between derivations of inflectional affixes and focusing adverbs. In the current Minimalist framework (Chomsky 2000 et seq.), this parallelism means both involve the Agree operation. More specifically, I propose that a sentence adverb merges with a verbal, nominal, or prepositional expression as a result of (i) Match between the Mood features on C0 (the probe) and those on a lower functional or lexical head (the goal), (ii) Valuation, where the valued interpretable Mood feature on the probe assigns a value to a goal, and (iii) in order to realize Valuation, a sentence adverb merges with the lower head that is the locus of the goal, or with a projection of the head, as a result of pied-piping. This kind of ‘delayed-Merge’ has been ruled out in previous works in the Minimalist framework, thus the present work shows this previous assumption is unwarranted. Support for this analysis comes from three sources. First, there is extensive evidence that sentence adverbs have properties of typical C0 expressions. Second, in-depth scrutiny of the focus-sensitivity of sentences with sentence adverbs shows focus-sensitivity is a crucial property. Third, the syntax of sentence adverbs also exhibit locality effects that can be naturally accounted for by the Agree theory, in which locality is a prominently featured. The end results of this analysis are a theory that has a much wider empirical coverage, an analysis of adverbial syntax that provides further support for the Agree theory, and a consistent minimalist view of the architecture of grammar.