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MA Thesis

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Abstract

In this thesis, I argue that the nature of a topmost phase head influences the feature specification and syntactic realization of layers merging both below and above the phase head. I base my argumentation on nominalizations in nominative-accusative and ergative-absolutive languages, starting from the root domain to the DP projection. I discuss the argument and event structure, aspectual values, agreement patterns, morphological properties, and mechanics of word formation. The core generalizations are formed on the basis of the Serbian language, as a representative of the nominative-accusative alignment, and Yucatec Mayan, a language surfacing with the ergative-absolutive pattern. Providing novel, original data, I identify and address several puzzles in domains of aspectual distinctions, argument and event structure, gender and number agreement, and the height of affixation.

I argue that Serbian, in contrast to languages such as English, German, and Spanish that have both n-based and D-based nominalizations in the typology offered in Alexiadou, Iordăchioaia, and Schäfer (2011) and Alexiadou (2020b) employs a single nominalization strategy, as all deverbal nominals are instances of n-based nominalizations.

I demonstrate that the presence of the nominalizing head n that embeds varying amounts of verbal structure (Alexiadou, 2001 and subsequent work) influences both the verbal layers below it and the nominal layers above it. I show that Serbian obeys the ergativity requirement proposed in Alexiadou (2001) and provide further evidence that vP under n is distinct from the vP under T. Furthermore, on the basis of the argument structure of active and passive clauses, as well as nominalizations and participles, I demonstrate that v under T can assign accusative case to its internal argument, v under n can assign genitive, while v under a in participles lacks the capability of case assignment.

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