Poppy Slocum

Talk Title: 
The Syntax of Address
Event Type: 
Dissertation Defense
Spring 2016
Monday, April 25, 2016, 11:00 am
SBS S-207 (Linguistics Seminar Room)

The Syntax of Address

This dissertation examines the role of the addressee in syntax, focusing on nominals that refer to non-argument addressees: vocatives (calls and addresses) and imperative subjects. Beginning with Moro (2003), generative analyses of vocatives have proposed that they are associated with functional projections at the left edge of or above CP. Such analyses are unable to account for the existence of mid-sentential addresses. I propose that vocatives (specifically addresses) are merged into the specifier of a functional projection, AddrP, which is located in the topic field of the CP domain(specifically between the highest TopP and FocP). This position correctly reflects that mid-sentential vocatives delineate an information structure boundary between old information (topics) and new information (focus). I show that the derivation of mid-sentential vocatives is sensitive to syntactic islands, supporting their treatment in the narrow syntax. I also propose that AddrP bears an allocutive feature bundle, which in some languages is realized as non-argument addressee agreement in the inflectional domain. I next turn to the internal structure of vocatives, starting by rebuking the claim that vocative case is a variant of nominative. I propose that vocative is an inherent case associated with an additional layer of functional structure. This layer surfaces in adjective-initial vocatives in Italian, Romanian and Slavic, which I argue are the result of N-t-D movement of the nominalized adjective.I also propose new criteria for predicting the distribution of overt imperative subjects in English, based on the observation that they are incompatible with a one to one correspondence between the set of addressees and the set of potential tasks. Finally, I examine the claim that vocatives are parenthetical, and consider the consequences of such a statement. I find that a subset of other elements which are described as parenthetical also mark information structure boundaries, and may also be associated with a functional projection in the topic domain of CP.