Uniformity and diversity in the syntax of evaluative vocatives

Open Access
Original article

DOI: 10.1007/s10828-008-9017-1

Cite this article as:
Corver, N. J Comp German Linguistics (2008) 11: 43. doi:10.1007/s10828-008-9017-1

Abstract

This article investigates the internal syntax of evaluative vocative expressions (e.g., You idiot!). This construction superficially consists of a second person pronoun and an epithet noun. It turns out that this construction type has different morphosyntactic manifestations across languages/dialects (abstractly: youNOM idiot!; youACC/OBL idiot!; your idiot!). The paper aims at giving a uniform account for the ‘underlying’ syntax of this construction type. It is argued that this construction has the ‘underlying’ syntax of a possessive noun phrase. More particularly, the second person pronoun starts out as (part of) a PP-predicate and undergoes leftward predicate displacement within the vocative noun phrase. The major dimensions of (morpho)syntactic diversity are related to the following properties: (1) the nature of the predicate displacement operation involved (i.e., predicate inversion and/or predicate fronting); (2) the overtness versus covertness of the small clause head X, which is part of the vocative expression; (3) the case form of the second person pronoun. According to the structural analysis proposed in this article, evaluative vocative expressions form a further illustration of the structural uniformity that is hidden behind superficial diversity.

Keywords

Epithet Evaluative vocative Morphosyntactic variation Nominal copula Possessive noun phrase Predication Predicate displacement Spurious indefinite article 
Download to read the full article text

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Utrecht Institute of Linguistics-OTSUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations