(Non-)Peripheral Matters in Turkish Syntax

Date of Completion

January 2010


Language, Linguistics




The goal of this dissertation is to investigate the nature of word order variation in declarative and interrogative clauses in Turkish within the framework of the generative syntax. The specific issue that will be examined in this dissertation concerns the role of discourse-pragmatics in word order variation. I will argue that all movement operations in Turkish are driven by discourse-based features; and there is no room for any operation that changes the linear order of constituents randomly and/or without the involvement of a discourse-feature. This eliminates the option of allowing any operation that fits the profile of 'scrambling' as understood in the tradition of Saito (1989 et seq.). Evidence that supports this conclusion will be presented through a detailed examination of variable binding data from Turkish, which also shows that subjects in Turkish do not undergo movement to Spec,IP either. It is also argued that Foci (and wh-phrases with a focal character) must stay in situ in Turkish, while all non-Foci must move. This provides an explanation for the obligatory adjacency of Focus/wh-phrases to the verb in Turkish. The assumption regarding the strict in-situness of Focus in Turkish receives support from Rooth's (1985) non-movement analysis of Focus, under which the semantics of Focus is handled without the establishment of an operator-variable relation. With the elimination of 'scrambling' and subject movement to Spec,IP as non-discourse driven movement operations, a detailed characterization of different kinds of discourse related functional projections carried out in this dissertation for Turkish allows for a non-ambiguous mapping to the interfaces regarding the interpretation of the elements that are associated with them. Turkish thus presents itself as an 'optimal language' in terms of the transparency of the mapping of syntax to discourse-pragmatics/semantics. ^