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Uniformity and diversity in the syntax of evaluative vocatives

By N.F.M. Corver

Abstract

This article investigates the internal syntax of evaluative vocative\ud expressions (e.g., You idiot!). This construction superficially consists of a second\ud person pronoun and an epithet noun. It turns out that this construction type has\ud different morphosyntactic manifestations across languages/dialects (abstractly:\ud youNOM idiot!; youACC/OBL idiot!; your idiot!). The paper aims at giving a uniform\ud account for the ‘underlying’ syntax of this construction type. It is argued that this\ud construction has the ‘underlying’ syntax of a possessive noun phrase. More\ud particularly, the second person pronoun starts out as (part of) a PP-predicate and\ud undergoes leftward predicate displacement within the vocative noun phrase. The\ud major dimensions of (morpho)syntactic diversity are related to the following\ud properties: (1) the nature of the predicate displacement operation involved (i.e.,\ud predicate inversion and/or predicate fronting); (2) the overtness versus covertness of\ud the small clause head X, which is part of the vocative expression; (3) the case form\ud of the second person pronoun. According to the structural analysis proposed in this\ud article, evaluative vocative expressions form a further illustration of the structural\ud uniformity that is hidden behind superficial diversity

Topics: Letteren, Epithet, Evaluative vocative, Morphosyntactic variation, Nominal copula, Possessive noun phrase, Predication, Predicate displacement, Spurious indefinite article
Year: 2008
OAI identifier: oai:dspace.library.uu.nl:1874/29972
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