On the morphosyntax of quantifcational adjectives in Modern Greek

Karatsareas, P. and Giannaris, T. 2013. On the morphosyntax of quantifcational adjectives in Modern Greek. On the morphosyntax of quantifcational adjectives in Modern Greek. University of the Aegean, Rhodes, Greece Sep 2013

TitleOn the morphosyntax of quantifcational adjectives in Modern Greek
AuthorsKaratsareas, P. and Giannaris, T.
TypeConference paper
Abstract

In this paper, we examine the apparent lack of gender and number agreement in uses involving quantifying adjectives in present-day spoken Greek such as in (1)-(2):

(1) Λίγο ησυχία δεν βλάπτει. (http://goo.gl/qo3RO)
(2)…να μαζέψουμε τσάι του βουνού, λίγο φακές… (http://goo.gl.a80qO)

Here, we aim to chart this phenomenon from a synchronic point of view, and to provide a preliminary account of the processes that gave rise to its development. Our investigation shows that non-agreement co-exists as a grammatical variant alongside typical agreement (λίγο ησυχία ~ λίγη ησυχία). It is, however, an option with only two adjectives, mostly λίγο(ς) and to a lesser extent πολύ(ς). The non-agreeing variants of the two adjectives can modify nouns in NPs occupying all major syntactic positions (subject, direct object, preposition complement), though they are not found in positions that require a genitive case (indirect object, noun complement). With respect to the quantified nouns, they are exclusively either mass/[−count] or plural [+count]. The non-agreeing construction also appears to have a stronger partitive reading than its agreeing counterpart and to be roughly parallel to phrases such as λίγο από ησυχία.

Based on the semantic properties of the non-agreeing variants, we propose that what we are dealing with here is a special type of a pseudopartitive construction (PsP). The typical PsP consists of two nouns: (i) N1, a quantity denoting noun, and (ii) N2, a mass/[−count] noun or plural [+count] noun, for example λίγα ποτήρια νερό (Alexiadou et al. 2007). In the special type of PsP under investigation, the N1 position is not filled by an overt noun but by a phonologically empty one, Quantity, as shown in (3):

(3) [QP [Spec ø] [Q’ [Q λίγο] [MP [M Quantity] [N(P) ησυχία]]]] (cf. Stavrou 2003: 342)

Positing the presence of Quantity explains the apparent non-agreement between λίγο and ησυχία in (1). As shown in the proposed syntactic structure, λίγο does not modify ησυχία but Quantity, which bears no inherent specification for gender and number. As a result, the modifying adjective appears in the default neuter singular form.

We further propose that this special type of PsP is the result of the reanalysis of constructions of verbal diminutivisation by means of the adverb λίγο, which are very productive in present-day spoken Greek (Canakis 2011). The reanalysis pathway we posit is shown in (4):

(4) [[Κάντε λίγο] [ησυχία]] > [Κάντε [λίγο Quantity ησυχία]]

The reanalysis was most probably facilitated by constructions having undergone extraction as in Λίγο ησυχία κάντε and by the morphological coincidence between the adverb and the neuter singular form of the adjective. Finally, we examine the possibility that the superficial non-agreement that arises between the adjective modifying Quantity and the noun in the special type of PsP in (1)-(2) may actually result in the emergence of a new type of adjectival quantifier that does not agree with the quantified noun in gender, number and case as suggested by examples such as those in (5) and (6) below.

(5) Το πολύ άγχος, η πίεση, ο λίγο ύπνος τον γονάτισαν… (http://goo.gl/GpPU6)
(6) Παρόλο που ο πολύ θόρυβος έφυγε… (http://goo.gl/cJe3W)

Year2013
ConferenceOn the morphosyntax of quantifcational adjectives in Modern Greek
Accepted author manuscriptICGL11_Giannaris_Karatsareas.pptx.pdf

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