Adpositional preverbs, chain reduction and phases

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This paper develops a syntactic account of two types of adpositional preverb constructions in Hungarian that explains their special behavior, including their mixed argument/adjunct properties. It is maintained that in neutral clauses both types of preverbs come to occupy a position left-adjacent to the verb by XP-movement of an adpositional phrase. Apart from yielding a regular overt movement chain, Chain Reduction (Nunes 1999, 2004), applying in the mapping to PF, may also reduce the copy of the PP left-adjacent to the verb to its adpositional head. Morphosyntactic reanalysis of the reduced copy makes it possible to realize the lower copy of the PP-chain overtly, either as a partial copy or as a full double, depending in part on the morphological status its head. Drawing on the assumption that Chain Reduction applies at the phase level, the paper accounts for the complex pattern of the (non-)availability of these spell out forms in various positions of the clause. This paper explores the syntax of two classes of preverbs in Hungarian, illustrated in (1) and (2) below.1 As is characteristic of verbal particles in Germanic and lexical verbal prefixes in Slavic, both classes systematically enable the verb to combine with a modifier phrase that appears to be an argument, whose morpho-syntactic form is restricted by the choice of the particle. Both types of preverbs apparently alter the argument structure of the verb: the modifier phrases display properties that render them similar to arguments. One way in which they consistently behave as adjuncts, however, is that their co-occurrence with the prefixed verb is invariably optional, see (1b), (2b). In what follows I will be referring to these elements agnostically as ‘quasi-arguments’ whenever their argument structural status is irrelevant to the discussion, or yet to be determined.


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