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On the Mapping from Syntax to Morphophonology


If both words and phrases are internally complex and can be decomposed into hierarchically organized constituents, what is the relation between the syntactically motivated constituency of phrases and the morphophonologically motivated constituency of words? In particular, is the correspondence between syntactic atoms and morphophonological words one-to-one or, in other words, does syntax only manipulate objects that are as small as words? These questions have generated a long line of productive research that has identified various mismatches between syntax and morphophonology: e.g. while some syntactic atoms are realized as autonomous morphophonological words, others are realized as subparts of words. Such results have, in turn, motivated approaches to word construction that are syntactic in nature.

In this dissertation I provide novel evidence that the atoms of syntax are smaller than morphophonological words, which leads to the conclusion words are built out of syntactic objects and, at least in part, by syntactic mechanisms. As far as the cases investigated here are concerned, what gives words their distinctive character and causes them to behave differently from phrases with respect to morphophonology is the application of Morphological Merger. Specifically, syntactically independent objects become the constituent parts of morphophonological words as the result of Morphological Merger, an operation that produces complex heads as part of the mapping from syntax to morphophonology.

The evidence I provide in this dissertation allows a particularly direct diagnosis of the syntactic independence of various subconstituents of morphophonological words. More specifically, it involves, for example, the interaction of subwords with syntactic operations (like movement), quantifier stranding, various kinds of binding, and thematic interpretation. Furthermore, while much previous work on complex word formation has centered on words constructed by the combination of a head with its complement (e.g. "incorporation") or with the head of its complement (e.g. "head movement"), this dissertation focuses on a less studied correspondence between syntax and morphophonology: words constructed out of a head and its specifier.

The particular view of the syntax-morphophonology interface espoused in this dissertation is developed on the basis of case studies from Bulgarian, a South Slavic language. As a result, a major concern throughout is the description and analysis of a number of important phenomena attested in Bulgarian: cliticization and clitic doubling, deverbal nominalization, and denominal adjectivization, among others. This dissertation provides a unified understanding of these phenomena to the extent that they all involve the syntactic construction of morphophonological words, which are produced by a mapping procedure that involves the application of Morphological Merger.

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