The Spatiotemporal Dimensions of Person: a Morphosyntactic Account of Indexical Pronouns

Author: Bettina Gruber
LOT Number: 339
ISBN: 978-94-6093-123-9
Pages: 267
Year: 2013
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This dissertation is concerned with the deictic and grammatical category p er so n and its associated linguistic expressions : indexical , i.e . first and second person , pronouns . Under the hypothesis that sentence meaning is computed from how words and their associated lexical information combine with each other , indexical pronouns present an interesting challenge : their actual referent can only be determined once interpreted with respect to the utterance context they are being used in . Formulated within the Chomskyan framework of generative syntax , this thesis develops a novel approach to the relationship between the morphosyntactic content , the interpretational ranges , and the associated crosslinguistic variation of these pronouns . Primarily based on data from Dutch , English , German ( Indoeuropean ) , and Blackfoot ( Algonquian ) , the main conclusion of this thesis is that p e r so n is derivative of spatiotemporal information : Firstly , temporal information plays a crucial role in its interpretation . Secondly , spatial information contributes the necessary contextual anchoring . Empirically , this dissertation draws on data from the domains of genericity , possession , tense , and modality . On the basis of this evidence it is shown that the spatiotemporal information underlying indexical pronouns is also encoded morphosyntactically . From a broader perspective , this dissertation addresses questions concerning the relation between context and syntax , morphology and syntax , as well as syntax and semantics .

This dissertation is concerned with the deictic and grammatical category p er so n and its associated linguistic expressions : indexical , i.e . first and second person , pronouns . Under the hypothesis that sentence meaning is computed from how words and their associated lexical information combine with each other , indexical pronouns present an interesting challenge : their actual referent can only be determined once interpreted with respect to the utterance context they are being used in . Formulated within the Chomskyan framework of generative syntax , this thesis develops a novel approach to the relationship between the morphosyntactic content , the interpretational ranges , and the associated crosslinguistic variation of these pronouns . Primarily based on data from Dutch , English , German ( Indoeuropean ) , and Blackfoot ( Algonquian ) , the main conclusion of this thesis is that p e r so n is derivative of spatiotemporal information : Firstly , temporal information plays a crucial role in its interpretation . Secondly , spatial information contributes the necessary contextual anchoring . Empirically , this dissertation draws on data from the domains of genericity , possession , tense , and modality . On the basis of this evidence it is shown that the spatiotemporal information underlying indexical pronouns is also encoded morphosyntactically . From a broader perspective , this dissertation addresses questions concerning the relation between context and syntax , morphology and syntax , as well as syntax and semantics .

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