Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Ileana Paul


This dissertation investigates applicative structures in Wolof, based on new data collected from native speakers in Saint Louis, Senegal. The dual purpose of this dissertation is to describe the applicative constructions available in Wolof and to identify their syntactic structure. Following previous work on applicatives, the description of these applicatives focuses on their object properties and the c-command configuration of the VP. The analysis falls within the Minimalist Program (Chomsky 1993, 1995, 2000). I propose multiple function heads involved in applicative formation which account for the properties in Wolof.

Four types of applicatives, benefactive, dative, instrumental, and locative in Wolof. They are classified into three groups based on their object properties, selectional restrictions, and c-command configuration. The groups are benefactive applicatives, dative applicatives, and oblique applicatives (including instrumental and locative). Object properties will show that benefactive and dative applicatives are symmetrical applicatives while instrumental and locative applicative, which have been previously identified as symmetrical (Dunigan 1994), show mixed symmetrical and asymmetrical behaviour. C-command tests will show that in benefactive and dative applicatives, the applied object asymmetrically c-commands the theme but in instrumental and locative applicatives, it is the theme that asymmetrically c-commands the applied object.

The analysis proposed is based on the Thematic and Raising Applicative Hypothesis from Georgala (2012). I propose a third applicative head in addition to thematic and raising Appls, which I call Oblique Appl. The notion of Downward Merge from Phillips (2003) and McGinnis (2005) is incorporated in Oblique Appl to account for instrumental and locative applicatives which fall outside the explanatory power of the Raising and Thematic Hypothesis vis-à-vis c-command and verbal adjacency. In the spirit and Marantz (1993) and Georgala (2012), I argue that all three applicative heads merge in the same position, above the lexical VP. I maintain that instrumental and locative applied objects are uniformly merged as VP-external objects contrary to Marantz who assume they can merge within the lexical VP.