A dynamic perspective on left-right asymmetries

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Various intepretational effects and structural restrictions can be observed in the phenomenon of the duplication of arguments <i>(doubling)</i> by clitics in lan&#173;guages like Modern Greek. The fact that some of these restrictions operate apparently differentially depending on whether the doubled argument occurs in the left or the right periphery have led to the postulation of two supposedly dis&#173;tinct phenomena: <i>CLLD</i> (Clitic Left Dislocation: left periphery, unbounded) vs. <i>Clitic Doubling</i> (ClD: right periphery, clause bound). We examine these left-right asymmetries from the perspective of <i>Dynamic Syntax</i> (DS), a grammar formal&#173;ism which reflects directly the dynamics of incrementally mapping a string of words to a semantic representation. Because in DS no separate level of syn&#173;tactic representation is assumed, many standard structural constraints emerge as epiphenomenal and rather attributable to the timing of the construction process and its interaction with the context of utterance. For example, the <i>Right Roof Constraint,</i> a phenomenon which appears to require proliferation of otherwise unmotivated functional projections with attendant leftward movement (Kayne 1994), emerges in DS as an immediate consequence of the fact that interpretational processes at early stages may assign underspecified structure/content with delayed construal while interpretational processes at the closing stages may not (as a result of the independently motivated <i>compositionality</i> requirement). In a similar vein, the current account of left-right asymmetries in the occurrence of clitics exploits the DS mechanisms to derive a non-ambiguity account of clitics in all their occurrences, with variation explicable from the availability of multi&#173;ple strategies interacting in the construction of semantic structure: the range of effects results from the distinct stages during processing when the clitic or the doubled DP make their contribution to the resulting representation. Besides aim&#173;ing at a reduction in explanatory levels of representation, the account also aims to demonstrate the benefits of including, as part of the grammar, the parsing dy&#173;namics of how context-dependent interpretations are built up incrementally.


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