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Title:Optimizing Structure in Context: Scrambling and Information Structure
Authors:Hye-Won Choi
Comment:Stanford University dissertation, 1996.
Abstract:This dissertation examines the ``free'' word order or scrambling

phenomena in German and Korean from the perspective of constraint

interaction in Optimality Theory. To overcome the problems raised in

single-component analyses in explaining word order variation, I

propose an `interface' approach in which the constraints from several

different components of grammar participate, compete, and interact

with one another. That is, various word orders are considered to be

motivated and constrained by interactions among syntactic, semantic,

and discourse principles of these languages. As the constraints from

different modules of grammar are highly conflicting, I utilize

Optimality Theory to demonstrate how the constraints interact and

resolve conflicts among one another. In this approach, each scrambled

variant, i.e., a sentence with a particular word order, is conceived

of as the ``optimal'' output, which instantiates the syntactic,

semantic, and discourse-contextual information given in the input.

I first develop the phrase structural constraints in German and

Korean, referred to as CANON, which are responsible for the mapping

from the argument-structure and grammatical-function information to

the phrase structure configuration, which in turn reflects the surface

word order. Then, I examine the semantic and discourse effects of

scrambling and propose a model of information structure based on the

two crossclassifying discourse features [New] and [Prom] to capture

the complex interactions of topic and focus on word order. The

semantic effect of specificity is also handled in terms of information

structure by means of semantic restrictions on discourse feature

assignment. Based on this information structure, I propose two

information structuring constraints NEW and PROM, which

are the mapping constraints between information structure and phrase

structure, as the major driving forces of scrambling. Finally, I

demonstrate the interaction and conflict-resolution among these

constraints in the German and Korean scrambling data by proposing a

particular ranking for each language.
Article:Version 1