November 21, 2019
On Thursday, Dec 5, Kenny Baclawski will defend his dissertation, entitled Discourse connectedness: The syntax–discourse structure interface. The defense will take place from 9am-noon in Dwinelle 3401. All members of the department are invited to attend.
This dissertation argues for the existence of a new Ā-feature, discourse connected (DC), which grammatically encodes a constraint on the relation between the constituent it attaches to and rhetorical relations between multiple sentences in a discourse. Connectives like That's because and For example encode the rhetorical relations explanation and elaboration. DC encodes these relations as well, but by merging a phrase at the left edge of a clause or noun phrase, specifically a phrase that is previously mentioned in the sentence being explained or elaborated upon. I argue that a variety of syntactic phenomena in Eastern Cham, an Austronesian language spoken in Vietnam, are best explained in terms of DC-marking: topicalization, optional wh-movement, inventory forms, partitives, and certain appositives. Given that DC encodes a discourse structural constraint, there must be an interface between syntax and discourse structure, and this interface may help expand the typology of possible Ā-features.