William B Boyce; William J Davis's A grammar of the Kaffir language PDF

By William B Boyce; William J Davis

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A third advantage of the BCC is that it imposes a restriction on the form of parameters. The attraction property of a functional head, which may be responsible for fairly major aspects of word-order variation, can be formulated in terms of a simple diacritic associated with a given functional head, or a given feature of a functional head. For example, the matrix C of a V2 language may be associated with a movement-triggering diacritic, causing an XP to move into its specifier position; in a ‘residual V2’ language like English or French, the diacritic would be associated with a [wh]-feature of C, giving rise to movement of a wh-XP into SpecCP exactly where C has the [wh]-feature.

In a language like Chinese, where there is no movement to SpecCP at all, there would be no such feature associated with C. 4 below. Clearly, if parametric variation can be restricted to formulations of this type, this would be a step in the direction of explanation. This simplicity of formulation in turn makes possible a statement of parametric variation at the UG level which relies on the logic of underspecification. It may, for example, be possible to state that parameter P has value vi, perhaps a movement-triggering/attraction property, when this is stated as such, and vj, the absence of this property, elsewhere.

According to this view, cross-linguistic variation consists of variant features of (a subclass of) lexical items which determine a small range of variation, and larger-scale differences among languages represent the accumulation of numerous microvariants of this kind. On the other hand, macroparameters such as the Polysynthesis Parameter of Baker (1996) and, possibly, the Head Parameter determine in one fell swoop a huge range of possibly variant properties. As Baker (2008a: 5) puts it “there are at most a few simple (not composite) parameters that define typologically distinct sorts of languages”.

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A grammar of the Kaffir language by William B Boyce; William J Davis


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