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Uniformity and diversity in the syntax of evaluative vocatives

By N.F.M. Corver


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
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