Tallerman (1997)

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  • Tallerman, M. 1997. 'Infinitival clauses in Breton', Canadian Journal of Linguistics, Special issue: Topics in Celtic Syntax, 205-233.


 Abstract:
 "This article proposes an account of Breton infinitival clauses within a generative framework, utilizing the "split-Infl" analysis found in much recent work in the Principle and Parameters model, for instance in the Minimalist Program as outlined by Chomsky (1993), Chomsky and Lasnik (1993).
 
 The goal of the article is to develop an analysis which accounts for the availability of lexical subjects in infinitival clauses, and for the position and role of the various functional morphemes occuring in such clauses. 
 
 Breton, like other Celtic languages, has both infinitival clauses with lexical subjects and infinitival clauses which are superficially subjectless. Whilst in finite clauses overt subjects are of course expected, their appearance in infinitival clauses is less common cross-linguistically. In the Principles and Parameters model, all lexical noun phrases must be licensed by having abstract Case. The availability of lexical subjects in finite clauses essentially follows from the fact that they co-occur with a finite verb: the Case licensing of subjects is then associated with finiteness. Since infinitival clauses have no finite verb, their lexical subjects are typically Case-licensed in some other manner. 
 
 However, in this article I will argue that the overt subjects of Breton infinitival clauses are generally licensed in the same way as the subject of finite clauses. What makes this possible is that in Breton both finite and infinitival clauses exhibit subject agreement, and it is this property which is crucially involved in the Case-licensing of their subjects.
 
 [...]
 
 The article is organized as follows. Section 2 examines in detail the main previous analysis of Breton infinitival clauses in a generative framework, that of Hendrick (1988). Various problems with this analysis are discussed, utilizing some arguments from Stephens (1990). Clauses containing da form a major part of the data adduced by both authors. Both analyses treat da as a prepostional complementizer, but their views on its role in infinitival clauses differ; an important issue is whether da is a Case assigner or not. Section 3 proposes an alternative analysis of Breton in which a single I° node is replaced by separate functional projections of T° and AgrS; I argue that the pre-subject da heads AgrS, and thus bears agreement, whist pre-verbal da is an infinitival marker in T°. Section 4 is the conclusion."