The Morphosyntax and Processing of Number Marking in Yucatec Maya
AuthorButler, Lindsay Kay
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation is a theoretical and experimental investigation of number marking in Yucatec Maya, a language in which number marking has different properties than better known Indo-European languages with inflectional plural marking and obligatory number agreement. The primary goal of this thesis is to propose a formal syntactic analysis of plural marking in Yucatec Maya in the nominal and verbal domains. I do this by examining the distribution and interpretation of the plural morpheme and by proposing an analysis within a Minimalist framework. The secondary goal is to investigate how the formal representation of plural marking interacts with real-time sentence processing mechanisms. I do this through timed translation experiments (and a picture description experiment) with bilingual speakers of Yucatec Maya and Spanish, two languages in which the formal representation of number marking and agreement differs. These experiments are tests of the formal syntactic analyses proposed in this thesis, and they examine the effect of language-particular syntax on sentence processing mechanisms. In the nominal domain, I argue that the plural marker is adjoined to the Determiner Phrase, rather than heading a Number Phrase, following the syntax of plural marking proposed by Wiltschko (2008). It merges as an adjunct to the DP, lacking the ability to change the label of the element with which it merges. This analysis explains the distributional and interpretational properties of plural marking as well as the otherwise peculiar lack of morphosyntactic persistence in certain conditions in an experimental translation task. I also propose an analysis of plural marking in the verbal domain and its relationship to word order. In verb-initial clauses, the aspect-mood particle is the main predicate in T⁰ which is φ-deficient. There is no Agree for number between the plural-marked full DP and verb due to the absence of C⁰ (Chomsky 2008). For DP-initial clauses, a DP bearing plural morphology moves to the CP domain, triggered by a topic or focus feature. The uninterpretable number feature on C⁰ probes via T⁰ for an interpretable valued feature in its domain (Chomsky 2001). This analysis predicts asymmetric number agreement in Yucatec Maya, which is tested experimentally.
Degree ProgramGraduate College