Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Christina Tortora

Subject Categories

Appalachian Studies | Computational Linguistics | Linguistics | Syntax


Appalachian English, Covert Determiner, Bare Noun, Narrative Declarative Sentence, Corpus Analysis


In this thesis, I explore the syntax and semantics of covert determiners (Ds) in matrix subject determiner phrases (DPs) with definite specific interpretations. To conduct my investigation, I used the Audio-Aligned and Parsed Corpus of Appalachian English (AAPCAppE), a million-word Penn Treebank corpus, and the software CorpusSearch, a Java program that searches Penn Treebank corpora. My research shows that Appalachian English contains a linguistic phenomenon where speakers drop the D, replacing overt Ds with covert Ds, in definite specific DPs. For example, where Standard English speakers say The doctor came by horseback, Appalachian speakers may use a covert D in place of the overt D the and say Doctor came by horseback. Appalachian English speakers use covert Ds in definite specific DPs in many syntactic positions, but it is particularly common in matrix subject position. Moreover, we find that these definite specific matrix subject DPs with covert Ds appear in narrative contexts as when the speaker is telling a story. Based on previous work on DPs by Longobardi (1994) and German V1 narrative declarative sentences by Önnerfors (2011), I propose a syntactic structure to explain covert D usage in definite specific DPs in matrix subject position.