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A Phi-Syntax for Nominal Concord

Morphological Definiteness as Gender-Agreement in the German DP

Marco Benincasa

Cite this publication as

Marco Benincasa, A Phi-Syntax for Nominal Concord (2018), Narr Francke Attempto, 72070 Tübingen, ISBN: 9783823391333

Tracked since 05/2018


Description / Abstract

The monograph sets out to sketch a reanalysis of morpho-syntactic definiteness in the German noun phrase, standardly represented by a dedicated formal feature in Generative Grammar. The book argues that its morpho-syntactic reflexes in German can be reanalyzed as the valuation of prenominal lexical items for so-called phi-features. The main prerequisite of the approach targets the reordering of the values feminine and plural as dependents and consequently the conflation of their categories gender and number in a feature geometric approach. Therein, the study develops a novel, innovative approach to nominal agreement incorporating inflectional dependencies in, and with, the nominal domain subsumed under the term nominal concord in one coherent theory of the workings of the language faculty. Additionally, current technical discussions in Generative Grammar are addressed and theory-internal notions revised in the course of the inquiry, thus extending its significance beyond the empirical object of investigation.

Description / Abstract

The book focusses on the grammatical feature definiteness in German, visible in the inflection of adjectives (ein schön-es Kind vs. das schön-e Kind). It argues for an analysis of this effect that draws a connection to the visible categories of number and gender on nouns and related words rather than an abstract property. This conclusion rests on the conflation of the established grammatical categories into a single one, number-gender, which explains a vast body of grammatical phenomena in German and principles of language in general.


Marco Benincasa studierte Germanistik und allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft an der Universität zu Köln.
Er promovierte in anglistischer Linguistik an der Universität Kassel.


Table of content

  • Cover
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Introduction
  • 1 AXIOMS - Adjectival Inflection & Phrasal Categorization
  • 1.1 Introduction
  • 1.2 Preliminary Remarks
  • 1.3 Basic Concepts - An Outline
  • 1.4 A Phrasal Set-Up of the Extended Nominal Domain in German
  • 1.5 Conclusion
  • 2 PREMISES - Phasehood & φ-Dependencies
  • 2.1 Introduction
  • 2.2 Phasehood
  • 2.3 φ-Features
  • 2.4 Conclusion
  • 3 INFERENCE - Nominal Concord & Definiteness
  • 3.1 Introduction
  • 3.3 Splitting Nominal Concord
  • 3.4 Conclusion
  • 4 IMPLICATIONS - Optionality & Complex Formations
  • 4.1 Introduction
  • 4.2 Optionality
  • 4.3 Loose Ends & Complex Formations
  • 4.4 Conclusion
  • 5 Conclusion
  • Endnotes
  • Bibliography
  • List of Short Form Citations

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