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Cornillon, Jeanne (1998) On interpretive constraints and expletives: The case of the Standard French 'ne' element. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London.

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Abstract

This thesis studies the particle ne in Standard French as it appears in the ne...pas/personne/rien and the ne...queXP structures. Based on the assumptions of a syntactic theory as developed in the Principles and Parameters, the thesis makes the following main claims: 1. Ne is an expletive. Its function is to satisfy a structural requirement on both the expression of sentence negation and association with focus. It is semantically defective, but it constrains the interpretation of the associate term it combines with (scope-marker function). 2. Some cross linguistic variations in the expression of sentence negation subsumed under a negative concord account are due to the special status of m as an expletive together with the requirement that each object must receive an independent interpretation at the interface with the Conceptual-Intentional system. 3. In the association with focus structure ne.queXP, the meaning of ne...que which is equivalent to [[only]] is not syntactically derived by combining a negative operator and an operator with the meaning of [[other than]], but built in the lexical element que. The unified account of ne in both the sentence negation and association with focus structures makes various empirical predictions. Ne, as a semantically defective element, cannot be free standing combining instead with a denotating element like pas or que, nor can it rescue a negative phrase inside an island although the ne...pas/personne/rien complex does. Ne, as a (clausal) scope marker, precludes local scope interpretations of its negative associates and the element que. Consequently, constituent negation is expressed by pas/personne/rien alone. The que element which combines with ne is excluded from positions where focus particles typically have local scope. In conclusion, cross linguistic variations cannot be reduced to structural constraints, interpretive requirements must also be taken into consideration.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 14:58
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/28500

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