Evidence from Formosan for a unified theory of adverb ordering

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This paper presents evidence from the Austronesian languages of Taiwan (Formosan languages) bearing on the ongoing debate between followers of Cinque (1999: Adverbs and functional heads) and Ernst (2002: The syntax of adjuncts): are adverbs adjoined to the clause, with semantically determined ordering, or are they located in functional projections in the backbone of the clause, with the ordering determined by universal hierarchical structure? Here it is shown that while the phenomenon of adverbial verbs in Formosan languages cannot be captured under an adjunction analysis, ordering facts still appear to be semantically, rather than structurally, determined. It follows that these two issues.(structure and ordering) must be teased apart. It is claimed that the structure, for Formosan at any rate, must be as proposed by Cinque, while the ordering rather seems to behave as would be expected under Ernst's analysis. Reconciling these two viewpoints implies a new view of syntactic structure which eliminates the clear distinction between adjuncts and functional projections, and which incidentally also points towards a solution of the innateness problem, suggesting that universal syntactic principles do not encode labelled structure as such, but merely cognitive tools for building structure. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)902-921
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Bibliographical note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: Linguistics and Phonetics (015010003)

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics

Free keywords

  • Formosan
  • Adverbial verb
  • Cinque
  • Ernst
  • Ordering


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