Information structure within the traditional nominal phrase: The case of Brazilian Portuguese

Date of Completion

January 2011


Language, Linguistics




This dissertation investigates the structure of the traditional nominal phrase (TNP) within a Minimalist framework (Chomsky, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005). I argue that additional discourse-related projections higher than DP are available in the TNP. The phenomena studied in this dissertation are investigated from the perspective of the often-invoked parallelism between TNPs and clauses, with Brazilian Portuguese (BP) as a case study. My central claim in this respect is that clauses and TNPs are fully parallel within the same language regarding available projections, ^ In chapter 1, I introduce the parallelism hypothesis and the properties of the clausal left periphery in BP. ^ In chapter 2, I discuss multiple topic constructions in BP, analyzing them as "snowballing" TNP-internal movements. I argue for the existence of a nominal topic projection, which is fully parallel to its clausal counterpart with respect to properties such as comma intonation, preposition dropping and the possibility of resumptive pronouns. I also argue for the anti-locality condition, i.e. the ban on movement that is too short. ^ In chapter 3, I investigate TNPs containing expressive content and provide evidence for high and low focus projections within the TNP. In my analysis of gender and number agreement with expressive content, I provide arguments for the feature- sharing version of Agree and for the dissociation of valuation and interpretability. I also show that the deletion of uninterpretable features must be done as soon as the next phase head is merged into the structure. Additionally, I provide evidence that if uninterpretable features are valued to start with, they can be deleted any time, even if they do not undergo feature-checking. ^ In chapter 4, I discuss reduced exclamatives analyzing them as involving internal movement from the predicate of a small clause into the ω-layer of the TNP. I argue that exclamative wh-phrases target high nominal FocusP and provide further support for a low nominal focus projection in BP in special cases containing expressive content. ^ In chapter 5, I study extraction of modifiers from TNPs considering two factors: whether the relevant element is a syntactic argument or adjunct and a specificity effect. In the investigation of the behavior of arguments and adjuncts, I place special attention to discontinuous TNPs in BP. ^