Mürmann, Sophie (2023). Differential Object Marking and Role Semantics in Romance. PhD thesis, Universität zu Köln.

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This study provides a fine-grained approach to the impact of agentivity on Differential Object Marking (DOM) in Romance languages. While verbal factors have been considered relevant for the understanding of DOM since decades, this dissertation is the first to systematically motivate and investigate communicated agentivity for the direct object as an influencing factor. As a first step, clear role-semantic criteria are elaborated to analyze DOM from a verb-based perspective, independently of animacy. For this purpose, the proto-role model of Blume (1998, 2000) is adopted, which is a modified version of Dowty’s (1991) and Primus’ (1999) proto-role model. Blume distinguishes between entailed, presupposed and conversationally implicated proto-agent properties for the object. This differentiation is adopted, underpinned by semantic tests allowing to isolate the type of proto-agent properties assigned to the object for a given predicate. Together with a fourth option that is defined by the absence of any proto-agent property, the different types of communicated agentivity for the object are arranged on a four-point scale (entailed agentivity > presupposed agentivity > potential agentivity > unspecified for agentivity). As a second step, experimental evidence for the impact of agentivity on DOM is presented for a Western Sicilian variety (Alcamo) and two Central Catalan varieties (Barcelona and Girona). Four verb classes are defined in accordance with the agentivity scale, while the direct object’s animacy is kept constant. Both acceptability judgement studies provide further evidence for treating agentivity as a co-influential factor on DOM. As a third step, the findings for Sicilian and Catalan are related to synchronic and diachronic evidence of further Romance languages. It is sketched how role-semantic factors interact with referentiality-based and information-structural parameters (e.g. definiteness and topicality) in early stages of grammaticalization. In sum, the dissertation makes both a theoretical and an empirical contribution to the impact of agentivity on DOM in Romance languages.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
Mürmann, Sophiesophiemuermann@gmail.comUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-703608
Series Name at the University of Cologne: Papers on Prominence
Volume: 5
Date: 2023
Place of Publication: Köln
Language: English
Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Fächergruppe 5: Moderne Sprachen und Kulturen > Romanisches Seminar
Subjects: Language, Linguistics
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Differential Object Marking; Semantic Roles; Romance languages; Agentivity; Animacy; Transitivity; Sicilian; Catalan; Spanish; Morphosyntax; Case; Prominence in languageEnglish
Differentielle Objektmarkierung; Semantische Rollen; Romanische Sprachen; Agentivität; Belebtheit; Transitivität; Sizilianisch; Katalanisch; Morphosyntax; KasusGerman
Date of oral exam: 7 July 2021
NameAcademic Title
García García, MarcoProf. Dr.
Becker, MartinProf. Dr.
Himmelmann, Nikolaus P.Prof. Dr.
Refereed: Yes
URI: http://kups.ub.uni-koeln.de/id/eprint/70360


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