This paper examines the nature of the operation Merge, the recursive procedure at the heart of the human language faculty. The central claim of this paper is that in order to reflect on the brain basis of Merge, the operation should be formulated in as much a generic way as possible. To achieve this syntactic combination must be dissociated from lexical influence. I argue that syntactic computation boils down to a rhythm: an interleaving of Merge and Spell Out applications, that may be understandable in terms of brain-level oscillations.
The study of the biology of human language, biolinguistics, has been fruitfully investigated over the last sixty years. Many important insights have been gained into the questions of what language is (mechanisms and functions), how language develops (growth of language), and how language evolves in the species. Principles of symmetry have often helped to unify areas of the natural sciences such as physics, chemistry and biology. The application of symmetry to the kinship system of the Warlpiri aborigines of Australia is examined to demonstrate how symmetry illuminates the intersection of language and other cognitive systems.
This article deals with the semantics of so-called mismatched two-past counterfactual conditionals exemplified by “If his son had been born tomorrowF (instead of yesterday), John would have been ecstatic.” The antecedent of this conditional is a past perfect, but posits a fictitious situation in the future of the utterance time. I argue that a focused future temporal adverbial (e.g. tomorrow) in the antecedent is associated with covert instead and that this yields the desired interpretation. The future adverbial is contrasted with a covert past adverbial (e.g. yesterday), which justifies the use of the past perfect in the antecedent. A formal proposal presented here is based on Kratzer (1981) and Rooth (1985, 1996).
The purpose of this paper is to make a proposal for Antecedent-Contained Deletion under the copy theory of movement (cf. Chomsky (1995)). Although the puzzles this construction poses have been discussed in Fox (2002) and Chomsky (2004), problems still remain to be solved. The proposal is to base-generate the head of the relative clause within the antecedent VP, while base-generating the relative clause containing the deletion site in an adjoined position of the antecedent VP. This paper pays special attention to the tricky construction in which the relative clause containing the ACD site is contained within the antecedent VP at surface structure, and explains this construction under McCawley’s (1982) theory of discontinuous constituent structure.
This paper provides a syntactic analysis of the locative inversion construction in English, dividing it into two types: one with an unaccusative verb and the other with an unergative verb. It is argued that the former type has the locative PP simultaneously attracted by T and Top by applying the idea of “independent probing” proposed by Chomsky (2008). On the other hand, the latter type has a syntactic structure in which the subject DP undergoes Heavy NP Shift, while the locative PP moves only to SpecTopP, but not to SpecTP. It is shown that the analysis based on these syntactic structures can give a principled explanation to the major syntactic properties of the two types of locative inversion construction within the framework of the Minimalist Program.
In this paper, we point out two subject/object asymmetries in Selayarese, and propose that in a simple sentence, while the object wh-phrase is base-generated in the object position in the underlying structure, the subject wh-phrase is base-generated in CP SPEC. We then show that this claim provides a uniform account for the two subject/object asymmetries in Selayarese. We also discuss two implications of the proposal: (i) that human language shows the Highest Argument Restriction, and (ii) that some affixes in Selayarese, which do not apparently occupy A-positions, behave like real NPs in A-positions.
Lobeck (1990, 1995) and Saito and Murasugi (1990) argue that the functional categories (C, T, D) permit the ellipsis of their complements only when their Spec positions are filled. I propose that this licensing condition on ellipsis is extended to the functional category v and claim that there are two types of VP-ellipsis: one is vP-deletion, which is licensed in the functional category TP and the other is VP-deletion, which is licensed in the functional category vP. I argue that the proposed analysis of VP-ellipsis is supported by considering inversion constructions, voice mismatch and VP-ellipsis in infinitival clauses.
This paper will critically examine whether deletion is sensitive to syntactic identity conditions. Merchant (2008, 2013) recently argued that VP-Deletion, Pseudogapping, and Sluicing are all sensitive to voice mismatches. Moreover, Tanaka (2011a) argues that VP-Deletion and Sluicing are also sensitive to category mismatches. Providing several counter-examples to Merchant’s and Tanaka’s arguments, I will argue that deletion is insensitive to voice and category mismatches. I will also sketch an alternative semantic account for those mismatch phenomena. Lastly I will briefly discuss a conceptual problem Merchant’s and Tanaka’s arguments have under the Minimalist assumption that the faculty of language has no representation other than LF on which syntactic identity conditions are imposed.
In order to explore the nature of identity in ellipsis, this paper examines so-called antecedent-contained sluicing, where the antecedent of the sluiced clause appears to contain the ellipsis site. Based on new observations from English, German and Russian, which show that syntactic identity is required to capture the properties of the construction in question, I propose an analysis that tries to maintain the approach based on purely syntactic identity. Specifically, it is proposed that the derivation of antecedent-contained sluicing involves counter-cyclic adjunction of a constituent containing the ellipsis site to avoid an infinite regress problem.
This paper investigates wh-movement (more precisely category movement) under Sluicing. Sluicing is the ellipsis by which wh-questions are reduced to wh-phrases. One widely held view has been that remnant wh-phrases move to a clause-initial position (cf. Ross (1969), Merchant (2001)). Furthermore, it has been claimed that the presence of a wh-phrase in this position is required to license Sluicing (cf. Lobeck (1995)). Challenging this standard view, this paper claims based on Agbayani’s (2000, 2006), and Agbayani and Ochi’s (2006) movement theory that wh-phrases usually stay in their underlying positions (though they do move in some cases because of a phonological requirement) and that the presence of a wh-phrase in a clause-initial position is not required as a licensing condition. At the same time, this paper presents novel data which empirically support Agbayani’s (2000, 2006), and Agbayani and Ochi’s (2006) proposal that category movement is driven by a certain adjacency requirement.
The purpose of this paper is to seek theoretical and empirical consequences stemming from Chomsky’s (2000) Cyclic Spell-Out. As a consequence of (Deletion by Phase Hypothesis, DBPH ), and argue that the DBPH makes it possible to derive non-constituent deletion without appealing to movement feeding constituent deletion. As a case study, this paper mainly deals with Gapping.
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