Committee: Richard Kayne (Chair), Paul Elbourne, Mark Baltin, Judy Bernstein, and Ray Dougherty
In this dissertation, I propose a comparative syntactic analysis of the Italian and Luganda nominal system. The main goal of this investigation is to explore the possibilities of Syntax as a noun formation device arguing that in both languages simple, derived and VN compound nouns are derivable in the syntax via Merger and Move. Under the assumption that the distinction between gender and noun class features is only a formal one (Corbett 1991:146), the theoretical premise for a syntactic analysis of nouns is based on a revised interpretation and redefinition of the feature gender/class. A quantitative and qualitative analysis of an Italian and a Luganda nominal database reveals that the feature gender/class, in addition to its inflectional function of triggering agreement, has a marked derivational nature. In other words, gender/class morphemes are used to derive nouns from non-nominal stems. Hence, gender/class morphemes are types of derivational heads inherently marked for the lexical feature [n] that project in the syntax in virtue of their inflectional nature. I, therefore, argue that gender/class projects as an [n] feature and not as GenderP or a ClassP as previously assumed.
From a syntactic point of view I argue that noun formation results from the Merger of a n-feature with an XP, where XP can be either a nominal, adjectival or verbal stem, or a VP, or an AspP, or a VoiceP. The Merger of [n] with one of the possible XPs is sufficient for deriving all noun types in both languages. In addition, the justification of Move as part of the noun formation process stems from the symmetric constituent orders of Italian and Luganda nominals. Luganda nouns have an affix-stem order with an affixal noun class morpheme, whereas Italian nouns have a stem-affix order with an affixal gender morpheme. Applying Kayne.s LCA (1994) to all level of linguistic representations, I argue that the Luganda affix-stem is the basic underlying order in nominals. Consequently, Move becomes necessary to derive the Italian stem-affix order. To conclude, the analysis shows that a syntactic approach to noun formation processes allows accounting uniformly for different family unrelated nominal systems.