Nominal Modification

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Colloquium: Melanie Hobich

On Tuesday, January 22nd at 4pm in SH 3.104, Melanie Hobich will give a talk in the GK colloquium.
Title: From head to phrase to clause. The syntactic change of quantifiers in Germanic and its implications for ‘was für’
The was für (‘what kind of’) construction (WFC) has been much called on in the literature. The construction has been analysed as an adjectival determiner (Leu 2015), as an attributive modifier (Zimmerman 2008) and as a small clause (Ijbema 1997, Bennis et al. 1998), amongst other representations. In my talk I discuss implications for an analysis of the modern ‘was für’ that derive from peculiarities of the diachronic development of the construction. The German ‘was für’-construction originated from a predecessor structure consisting of the wh-item was and a genitival DP. Since the predecessor construction diverges in its agreement pattern from the modern WFC and shares case properties with other quantificational constructions in older stages of German, I extend Roehrs & Sapp’s (2018) analysis for (Germanic) quantificational constructions. I assume that the WFC developed from a head-type quantificational construction with a genitival complement to a phrase-type construction involving the element ‘für’. When the interrogative no longer served as head of the construction, it could be reanalysed in the specifier of a small clause headed by the element für.

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