Phrase structure and configurationality in Ossetic


  • Oleg Belyaev Lomonosov Moscow State University


Ossetic, word order, clause structure, focus, X-bar theory


In this paper, I analyze Ossetic clause-level word order in terms of LFG. Ossetic word order is not constrained by the grammatical functions of elements, but by their formal features and information-structure functions. Specifically, interrogatives, negative pronouns, most subordinators and foci have to be positioned in the preverbal position. I argue that this pattern cannot be captured by the standard model of X' theory because the limit to two bar levels does not provide enough ``slots'' for all these elements, and the notions of "complement", "adjunc" and "specifier" themselves become devoid of meaning. Instead, I propose that Ossetic has to be analyzed as having more than two bar levels; the notion of projection thus becomes similar to the notion of "slot" in template-based inflectional morphology. In effect, this solution suggests a view of clause structure as a language-specific phenomenon that develops through processes akin to grammaticalization in the domain of morphology.