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Exploring Nanosyntax$
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Lena Baunaz, Liliane Haegeman, Karen De Clercq, and Eric Lander

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190876746

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190876746.001.0001

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Syncretism and Containment in Spatial Deixis

Syncretism and Containment in Spatial Deixis

(p.116) Chapter 5 Syncretism and Containment in Spatial Deixis
Exploring Nanosyntax

Eric Lander

Liliane Haegeman

Oxford University Press

This chapter investigates spatial-deictic systems (e.g. English this vs. that, or Latin hīc vs. iste vs. ille) from a wide range of typologically diverse languages. We propose that spatial deixis is encoded as a three-way contrast in Universal Grammar (UG): Proximal ‘close to speaker,’ Medial ‘close to hearer,’ and Distal ‘far from speaker and hearer.’ The empirical core of the chapter focuses on two phenomena: (i) syncretism and (ii) morphological containment. It is shown that only certain kinds of syncretism patterns are attested crosslinguistically: Syncretism cannot target Proximal and Distal without also targeting Medial (a case of *ABA). Furthermore, the cases of morphological containment we have found show that Distal contains Medial, which, in turn, contains Proximal. A functional sequence of three heads is posited that captures our generalizations in a simple and effective way.

Keywords:   demonstratives, spatial deixis, DP, nanosyntax, syncretism, containment

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