Date of Award

2022

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Linguistics

First Advisor

David Embick

Abstract

This dissertation explores the syntactic and morphological properties of a class of mobile verb markers in Modern Armenian. The most prominent case discussed in the literature is the Eastern Armenian auxiliary, which obligatorily attaches to focused constituents, displays second-position effects in focus-neutral contexts, or attaches to the main verb in verb-only contexts (Kahnemuyipour & Megerdoomian, 2017). By looking at an understudied variety of Erzurum Armenian and cross-dialectally, I show that (i) mobile markers are also found in a subset of Western varieties, and (ii) that the auxiliary is not the only mobile marker attested in Modern Armenian. In fact, every high morpheme on the clausal spine can become mobile depending on the dialect.

I provide a syntactic analysis of the clause structure in Erzurum Armenian. Building off the recent literature, I posit information-structure-motivated movement of focused constituents to a high FocP, as well as movement of the closest syntactic element in the Comment to a high FinP. Under this analysis, given/backgrounded information is dislocated to TopP. I add to the typology of Second Position by claiming that Modern Armenian shows both (i) a high focus position and (ii) second-position effects within the comment.

I further use the articulated left periphery to analyze the placement of mobile verb markers. The mobility is derived syntactically via head movement to FinP or FocP. Moreover, accounting for cross-dialectal variation in Erzurum and other varieties which includes variable morpheme positioning and morpheme doubling calls for adopting a decomposed view on head movement. Under this approach, head movement is split into a syntactic operation of head chain formation and a separate operation that selects the locus of chain pronunciation, determined dynamically using an algorithm operating on the chain (Arregi & Pietraszko, 2021). I propose that the decision to extend the head chain should also be determined dynamically in the context of structurally adjacent heads.

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Linguistics Commons

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