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The syntax of Person, Tense, and speech features

By Halldor Armann Sigurðsson


This paper argues that Person interprets event participants in relation to speech participants in a parallel fashion as grammatical Tense interprets event time in relation to speech time. This understanding of Person is embedded in a general theory of speech-grammar-event matching, that is to say, an approach where speech (event) features, SF, are matched by grammatical features, GF, which in turn are matched by (propositional) event features, EF. This is informally sketched below, where ‘A « B’ reads as ‘A matches B’ or, more accurately, ‘A is computed/interpreted in relation to B’: EF « GF « SF In accordance with this general scheme, event participants, EP, match Person and other grammatical participant features, GP, which in turn match speech participants, SP: EP « GP « SP In the same fashion, event time, ET, matches grammatical tense, GT, which in turn matches speech time, ST: ET « GT « ST A basic claim that I shall be making is that the Minimalist Program (Chomsky 1995, 2000, and subsequent) can be profitably developed such that features and feature built structures are the only syntactic elements. I refer to this approach as MINIMAL FEATURE SYNTAX. My aim is to show that it enables a (more) coherent understanding of the fundamental function of speech features as well as of Person and Tense in language

Topics: Languages and Literature
Publisher: Rosenberg and Sellier
Year: 2004
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