Vol. XVII Nr. 2

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Virginia Hill
The grammar of conversation: How much of it is syntax?

Abstract: This paper examines the interaction between conversational pragmatics and syntax with a view to identifying to what extent pragmatic interpretation can be read off syntactic structure. Building on empirical data from Romanian, it argues, from a generative grammar perspective, for a speech acts component of clausal derivations. The speech act maps the pragmatic roles of speaker, hearer and the topic of their conversation (the sentience dimension) to syntactic positions.

Keywords: speech act, pragmatic roles, syntax, E-adverbs, Romanian

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Ion Giurgea
Bare quantifier fronting as contrastive topicalization

Abstract. I argue that indefinites (in particular bare quantifiers such as ‘something’, ‘somebody’, etc.) which are neither existentially presupposed nor in the restriction of a quantifier over situations, can undergo topicalization in a number of Romance languages (Catalan, Italian, Romanian, Spanish), but only if the sentence contains “verum” focus, i.e. focus on a high degree of certainty of the sentence. I analyze these indefinites as contrastive topics, using Büring’s (1999) theory (where the term ‘S-topic’ is used for what I call ‘contrastive topic’). I propose that the topic is evaluated in relation to a scalar set including generalized quantifiers such as {lP $x P(x), lP MANYx P(x), lP MOSTx P(x), lP “xP(x)} or {lP $xP(x), lP P(a), lP P(b) …}, and that the contrastive topic is the weakest generalized quantifier in this set. The verum focus, which is part of the “comment” that co-occurs with the “Topic”, introduces a set of alternatives including degrees of certainty of the assertion. The speaker asserts that his claim is certainly true or highly probable, contrasting it with stronger claims for which the degree of probability is unknown. This explains the observation that in downward entailing contexts, the fronted quantified DPs are headed by ‘all’ or ‘many’, whereas ‘some’, small numbers or ‘at least n’ appear in upward entailing contexts. Unlike other cases of non-specific topics, which are property topics, these are quantifier topics: the topic part is a generalized quantifier, the comment is a property of generalized quantifiers. This explains the narrow scope of the fronted   quantified DP.

Keywords: topic, quantifier, topicalization, Romance, German

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Nicoleta Sava
The internal structure of NPs headed by focus particles

Abstract: This article investigates the internal structure of NPs headed by the restrictive particle only in English. The working assumption is that despite the high syntactic mobility of the particle, noun phrases headed by only exhibit a uniform structure and a fairly uniform syntactic behaviour. The paper investigates the merge configuration of the particle and its syntactic positions in the clause structure and it proves, in the frame of the copy theory of movement, that the structure of the only-phrase is unitary in all three configurations (only-NP, only-vP, LP only) the apparent differences being due to different spell-out options.

Keywords: focus particle, copy theory of movement, merge operation, phase periphery

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Raluca Brăescu, Adina Dragomirescu, Alexandru Nicolae
(Non-)Configurationality and the internal syntax of adjectives in old Romanian

Abstract. This paper deals with three phenomena specific to old Romanian: prehead complements to adjectives (i.e. head-final adjectival structures), postadjectival degree markers, and discontinuous adjectival and degree phrases. Following recent work by Adam Ledgeway, we defend the hypothesis that the old Romanian adjectival phrase preserves relics of the head-final and non-configurational syntax of Latin. The fact that prehead complements of adjectives and postadjectival degree markers represent a genuine instance of head-finality (i.e. roll-up movement) is reinforced by the existence of discontinuous adjectival phrases (the hallmark of non-configurationality), discontinuous structures being unavailable in harmonic head-initial systems (Ledgeway forthcoming).

Keywords: old Romanian, Adjectival Phrase, complementation, head-final grammar, roll-up, non‑configurationality

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Ruxandra Vişan
Language myths in Lord Chesterfield’s 1754 Letters to the World

Abstract: Taking the approach proposed by Watts (2011) as a point of reference, we aim to examine some of the “language myths” that have helped to construct the history of the English language ideologically (Watts 2011), focusing on two Letters (the World, No.100, November 28, the World, No. 101, December 5) sent by Lord Chesterfield to the World in 1754. These Letters announce the publication of a significant text in the history of the English language, Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary (1755). The purpose of the article will be to show that the use of language myths in the Letters reflects the shifting relation between “politeness” and “correctness” in the second half of the eighteenth century (Klein 1994, Fitzmaurice 1998) and an emergent “conceptualization of a legitimate form of English” (Watts 2011).

Keywords: language ideology, language myth, polite language myth, legitimate language myth

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Andrei A. Avram
The diffusion of Pacific English-lexifier pidgins and creoles: Evidence from Australian Kriol

Abstract: Australian Kriol is an English-lexifier creole, spoken in the Northern Territory and adjacent areas of Western Australia and Queensland, which has generally not been considered in previous comparative work on English-lexifier pidgins and creoles. In this paper I adopt an approach used in research on the historical-linguistic relationships among English-lexifier contact languages (Baker and Huber 2001), which takes into account specific diagnostic features recorded at any time in their history. The findings have several implications. First attestations in Australian Kriol provide further data relevant to any investigation into issues such as the origin and diffusion of diagnostic features and the genetic relationships holding among the Pacific English-lexifier varieties. Also, the feature-based approach adopted allows for the quantification of the degree of affinity of Australian Kriol with other potentially relevant Pacific English-lexifier pidgins and creoles. Finally, evidence from Australian Kriol – corroborated with that provided by other Pacific English-lexifier contact languages (Avram 2004a) – demonstrates that a number of diagnostic features hitherto believed to occur only in Atlantic varieties (Baker and Huber 2001) have in fact a world-wide distribution.

Keywords: English-lexifier creoles, diagnostic features, classification, Pacific, world-wide

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Gabriela Brozbă
Issues of intelligibility of Nigerian English in the classroom

Abstract: Communicative competence in English has been a desired goal in international settings ever since the Empire existed. However, a match, or better yet an overlap, between the expected competence and the actual performance has not always been attained or  a native-like one, even if native varieties have constantly been taken as the yardstick for comparison. In international classrooms the situation becomes even more interesting and hard to tackle at times due to factors related to the various linguistic backgrounds and what is perceived as being the standard by the participants involved. Therefore, 24 intelligibility judges have been invited to take part in an intelligibility experiment for some samples recorded at the Romanian-American University in Bucharest. Some of these judges have formal training in linguistics and they were included in order to double check and substantiate our results obtained from the linguistically naïve judges.

Keywords: intelligibility, suprasegmental differences, phonological processes, segmental causes

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Marcel den Dikken (ed.) The Cambridge Handbook of Generative Syntax. (Reviewed by Imola-Ágnes Farkas)

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