Spelling Out P
A Unified Syntax of Afrikaans Adpositions and V-Particles
Function words and morphemes are frequently subject to systematic (micro-) categorial “shifts” – they are syncretic. The right model of syncretism opens a window on the incontestably fuzzy nature of syntactic categories and provides a powerful tool for analysing fine-grained structure, and teasing apart various syntax interface processes relating to Spellout. One important fact about syncretism is that it poses a challenge to the ontologically primitive syntactic category.
This dissertation develops an integrated theory about the internal composition of syntactic categories and how this brings about the observable category effects, i.e. all the morphosyntactic characteristics associated with a particular category. With a highly concentrated empirical focus on the Spatial P (adpositional) domain of Afrikaans, the theory puts forth a unified account of simplex and complex prepositional phrases, circumpositional phrases, doubling adpositional phrases, and P-based verbal particles. It is argued that the functions of this domain correspond to ordered formal features in a fixed functional spine, and that syncretic elements are specified for the full range of features which they have the capacity to express, but that they need not always lexicalise all the features for which they are specified. Accordingly, category effects arise as an epiphenomenon of the particular set of features an element lexicalises at a particular insertion site. On this model, individual lexical items may span conventional category boundaries, accounting for the multiple category membership of some functional elements. Importantly, category boundaries are non-discreet and the account holds that the formal mechanisms conditioning multiple macro-category membership (e.g. P and N or V) are identical to those conditioning multiple micro-category membership (e.g. locative and directional adposition).
This book is of interest to linguists working on the nature of syntactic categories, approaches to the formal modelling of spatial relations, the morphosyntax of ((West) Germanic) spatial expressions.