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Stephens, Janig (1982) Word Order in Breton. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The main objective of this thesis is to define the word order pattern of Breton. The most prominent characteristic of the language is that the first position in the sentence must be filled by a constituent X, where X = NP, PP, VP or V. It is generally accepted that this property is linked to what may be described as a topicalization process operating on a VSO type base structure. While it is accepted here that topicalization determines one type of surface structure, the present analysis makes a distinction between topicalized and neutral structures. In the former, the initial constituent is either NP, PP or VP, whereas in the latter, V is placed in front of an auxiliary. This analysis also rejects the view that the underlying word order of Breton is SVO. The proposal is rejected on the grounds that derivations resulting from the application of transformations on a base structure of a SVO type are not confirmed elsewhere The syntactic nature of the infinitive in neutral root clauses and in topicalized VPs is also discussed, and it is concluded that this non-finite verb form is a verbal constituent. The syntactic analysis of Breton outlined here maintains that VSO is the correct base order of constituents. Topics are generated in the base, but the structure of the neutral positive declarative root clause is derived by an obligatory transformation which shifts the main-verb around the auxiliary.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:37

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