Leonetti & Escandell La estructura informativa

Capítol del Xavier en el volum col·lectiu "La estructura informativa"

Xavier Villalba (2021) "La estructura informativa. En la interfaz entre la sintaxis y la semántica", dins Manuel Leonetti & M. Victoria Escandell-Vidal (eds.) La estructura informativa. Madrid: Visor. 185-216.

Objectius específics

In relation to the three topics and general goals just described we will focus our research on the specific questions and specific goals (SG) detailed below.


SG1. Definiteness.

Does the expression of definiteness always relate to notions such as uniqueness, familiary, maximality and saliency, even in languages without articles? Which is the functional projection that encodes definiteness in a language such as Russian? Should a category Def be postulated distinct from D (Lekakou & Szendröi 2012)? Is the head D necessary crosslinguistically, both in languages with articles and in languages without articles, for definite kind interpretation? (Carlson 1977; Chierchia 1998b; Dayal 2004; Borik & Espinal 2012, 2015; Espinal 2010).

Should indefiniteness also require be associated with this functional projection or rather with the absence of it? What is the functional structure corresponding to bare singulars and bare plurals in Russian depending on whether they have a definite, an indefinite or a generic interpretation, and depending on their (preverbal or postverbal) position?

How Basque non-agreeing weak indefinites should be analysed? How can they be sensitive to the status of the verbal predicate?

Researchers involved: Espinal, Borik, Cyrino, Etxeberria (in collaboration with R. Etxepare, CNRS-IKER), Serés.


SG2. D.

Is D semantically ambiguous between an operator encoding uniqueness and maximality (the iota operator) and a polar item (as postulated for expletive articles and long weak definites) (Espinal & Cyrino 2017)? Can this proposal be extended crosslinguistically?

Why should languages have expletive determiners? Do they encode a linguistic meaning? If yes, what is it (Espinal was invited to write a chapter on ‘Expletive Determiners’ for a Handbook on Determiners, ed. By S. Armoskaite & M. Wiltschko. Oxford University Press).

Is D semantically ambiguous between an operator encoding uniqueness and maximality (the iota operator) and a domain restriction? Should Greek polydefinites (e.g. to kalo to kaidi lit. el bueno el niño ‘el niño bueno’, to palio to spiti to petrino lit. el Viejo la casa la piedra ‘la casa de piedra vieja’, etc.) be analyzed as expletive Ds under the effect of a semantic definiteness operator (Lekakou & Szendröi 2012) or as a unique, referential D, followed by other definite Ds that show a domain restriction function (Giannakidou & Etxeberria 2010).

Researchers involved: Espinal, Cyrino, Etxeberria (in collaboration with A. Giannakidou, U. of Chicago).


SG3. Num.

Is the presence of a Number head a precondition for interpreting a nominal as count (Borer 2005)? Are counting, dividing and reference the three basic notions associated with this functional projection? (Rothstein 2010; Harbour 2008; Dayal 2001; Tsoulas 2006; Deprez & Déprez 2005; Chierchia 1998a; Dobrovie-Sorin 2012).

Is Number a precondition for subkind interpretation?

Is Number interpreted differently when it is merged as a head or as a modifier (Wiltschko 2008? Is Number interpreted differently depending on the position where it is merged (on the nominal root or on D)?

Researchers involved: Espinal, Borik, Cyrino, Etxeberria, Serés.


SG4. Topichood.

Does the expression of topichood relate to definiteness both in languages with and without articles?

Does the expression of topichood relate to a specific syntactic position in a designated functional projection such as TopicP or is it determined by a separate module such as Information Structure? (Rizzi 1997; Cohen & Erteschik-Shir 2002: Aboh 2004; Villalba 2000; López 2009; Neeleman & Van De Koot 2008; Matić & Wedgwood 2013). How is this relation modeled / reflected in the theory of grammar? Are the generalizations the same for both languages with and without articles?

Researchers involved: Villalba, Borik, Serés.


SG5. Degree.

Does the characterization of Deg in the nominal domain parallel the characterization of Deg in the verbal domain? What are the formal features involved in the characterization of Deg across domains? (Castroviejo & Gehrke 2016) (Kearns 2007; Kennedy & McNally 2005; Rothstein 2004a).

Can Deg be expletive in Spanish exclamative sentences of the sort ¡Qué cosas tan/más caras que compra!?

What is the exact relationship between Neg and Deg in negative exclamative sentences in Catalan, Spanish and English? (Espinal 1997, Zanuttini & Portner 2003, Villalba 2008,Delfitto & Fiorin 2014).

Researcher involved: Espinal, Villalba, Tubau.


SG6. v / Asp / Voice

What is the role of verbal functional projections like Voice and Aspect in determining the interpretation of various types of verbal predicates in passive constructions? In particular, can it be established cross-linguistically that the presence or absence of various functional projections such as VoiceP, AspP, vP correspond to a specific set of syntactic or semantic properties universally or do languages differ in what kind of interpretation/syntactic properties are attributed to these functional projections?

Does expletive voice exist? (Shäfer 2016).

What is the division of labor between different types of passive constructions both language-internally and cross-linguisticically? For instance, if a language has both se-passives and periphrastic passives (like Spanish or Russian), what are the factors that determine the distribution and interpretation of these types of passives? Should these differences be reflected in the verbal functional layer and, if yes, how precisely can this be done?

If a language has two types of periphrastic passives (e.g., Russian), do these differences correspond to the role of Aspect in the syntax and semantics of passive constructions?  What would a compositional analysis of a passive sentence look like depending on various combinations of Asp and Voice values?

Researchers involved: Villalba, Borik (in collaboration with B. Gehrke, CNRS).

What is the aspectual characterization of idioms? We have already described the interaction between abstract definite feminine clitics and atelicity in Catalan (Espinal 2009, Villalba & Espinal 2015). (Espinal was invited to write a chapter on ‘Idioms and phraseology’ for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia on Linguistics, ed. by M. Aronoff. Oxford University Press).


SG7. Neg.

How are negative polarity items to be formally described in different natural languages such as Basque and English? How are negative polarity items to be formally characterized in L3 English? How is the dependency relationship that NPIs show with a negative marker to be formally described crosslinguistically?

How are negative dependencies with and without a preverbal negative marker to be formally described in Catalan, Castillian and Basque Spanish?

How are negative quantifiers to be formally described in English?

How are multiple negative expressions to be formally characterized in Mandarin Chinese in order to convey by default a double negation interpretation, but on occasions a single negation interpretation? What is the interpretation of argumental negative quantifiers as answers to negative questions in this language? Information structure of Chinese, Focus sensitive particles and negation.

What is the interpretation of argumental negative quantifiers as answers to negative questions in English and L2/L3 English?

The interpretation of yes/no answers as answers to positive and negative questions. (Espinal was invited to write a chapter on ‘Response systems’ for the Annual Review of Linguistics, ed. by M. Krifka. This chapter will be prepared with S. Tubau).

Researchers involved: Espinal, Tubau, Etxeberria, Li, Puig.


SG8. Top / Foc

We will investigate whether contrastiveness is a formal feature encoded on Topic or Focus, or rather whether it should be considered a pragmatic inference. What is contrastiveness, and what is its relationship in relation to Topic and Focus? How is it realized in different natural languages from a semantic (alternatives vs. Bayesian calculations) and prosodic perspective (pitch vs. phrasing)?

Researchers involved: Villalba, Brunetti, Planas.


SG9. Force

We will study the semantic import of Force in imperative and optative sentences, particularly whether it encodes an illocutionary operator over propositions that encodes the way the content of the sentence has to be incorporated to the common ground. We will also investigate how Force is encoded in syntax and prosody in Romance, and the consequences that such encoding has for the architecture of grammar, particularly in the placement and interactions of the information structure component.

Researchers involved: Villalba, Brunetti, Planas.


SG10. Voc

We will consider whether imperative Force is inherently linked to the head Voc and whether the presence of the vocative affects the intonation contour. We will focus on minimal pairs of the sort (Tu, calla! ‘You, shut up!’ vs. Calla tu! ‘You shut up!’), and the relationship between Voc, Force and Focus. We will also study the connection between imperative Force and negation to determine whether the ban against negative imperatives in Romance can be derived from the particular semantic properties of Force, rather than as a purely accidental morphosyntactic restriction.

What is the semantic characterization of Voc? Where is Voc in a model of the peripheral domain? Types of vocatives and syntactic structure of vocatives in Russian. Voc in languages with and without articles (Longobardi 1994, Moro 2003, Espinal 2013, Hill 2014). Internal structure of Voc in Russian within the NP/DP theoretical debate (Pereltsvaig 2006, Boskovic 2008). External structure of Voc within the theoretical debate of the structure of the left periphery and information structure.

Researchers involved: Espinal, Villalba, Solomina.

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