Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group


First Advisor

Julie Anne Legate


This dissertation investigates the syntax and morphology of several functional morphemes that display surface optionality in Indonesian. Three case studies consider how syntactic environments constrain optional realization. Chapter 2 investigates the declarative complementizers bahwa and kalau, which are disallowed in case of A-bar movement; I show that bahwa is also disallowed in wh-in situ questions that do not involve movement. These facts are developed into an analysis of wh phrases and the structure of wh questions in Indonesian. I also propose that the morpheme yang, as well as the null form of the complementizer, constitute a pattern of morphological wh-agreement on C. Chapter 3 discusses the verbal prefixes meN- and ber-, which have received varied analyses in the literature. I argue that meN- and ber- participate in wh-agreement resulting from A-bar movement, and argue against previous analyses that assume that A-movement results in a similar deletion. In addition, I differentiate between deterministic properties that are relevant in the syntax, and non-deterministic properties of meN- and ber- that are extra-syntactic. This distinction accounts for a number of puzzling properties that have been observed for these prefixes. Chapter 4 discusses possessor sub-extraction in Indonesian, with additional data from similar constructions in Javanese and Madurese. I pursue a novel analysis of the nominal suffix -nya, which is optional is possessive DPs: in possessor extraction, this suffix is a pronunciation of the head D. The analysis of wh-agreement is extended to the DP domain, where -nya marks A-bar movement on phase heads; the consequence is that DP is a phase for syntactic movement. One language-specific finding in this dissertation is that morphological wh-agreement applies across three domains: complementizers, verbs and possessive nominals. This has cross-linguistic implications for the phasehood of DP and wh-agreement patterns. More broadly, the dissertation contributes a syntactic approach to the analysis of variable morphemes, revealing how multiple factors constrain surface optionality.