LINGUIST List 14.1479

Thu May 22 2003

Review: Syntax: Cinque ed. (2002)

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  1. Asya Pereltsvaig, Functional Structure of DP and IP

Message 1: Functional Structure of DP and IP

Date: Wed, 21 May 2003 21:07:47 +0000
From: Asya Pereltsvaig <>
Subject: Functional Structure of DP and IP

Cinque, Guglielmo, ed. (2002) Functional Structure in DP and IP. The
Cartography of Syntactic Structures. Volume 1. Oxford University
Press, Oxford Studies in Comparative Syntax.

Announced at

Asya Pereltsvaig, California State University Long Beach

This volume presents the first results of a long-term project, funded
by the Italian government, aiming to discover and map out the
functional structure of natural language sentences. Since the
mid-1980s much of the syntactic research has been aimed at a study of
functional categories in clauses and nominals. The goal of this volume
is to ''set the question [of functional structure] in a systematic and
empirical fashion'' (p. 3). One of the major issues concerning
functional categories is their universality. The stronger position,
the one that this volume considers, is that languages employ a
universal set of functional categories, and that their number and
relative order is the same across languages. Different types of
evidence may be adduced to support this position, including word order
and (grammatical) morpheme order, the order of nonlexical specifiers
(i.e., specifiers other than those hosing argument DPs in the layered
VP), and the order of restructuring verbs.


The volume opens with an informative introduction by Guglielmo
Cinque. It reviews the types of evidence for functional structure and
gives a brief overview of the other contributions in the volume. The
rest of the volume is divided into two parts: Part I deals with the
functional structure in DPs and Part II with the functional structure
in clauses. The volume also contains a subject index, a language
index, and a name index. References are listed after each chapter.

Chapter 2: The Positions of Demonstratives in the Extended Nominal
Projection. By Laura Brug´┐Ż. This chapter is concerned with the
functional architecture involved in the syntax of demonstratives. The
main focus is on Spanish demonstratives, which can appear either in
prenominal position or in postnominal position. It is proposed that a
demonstrative is always projected in a low position inside the
extended nominal projection. At PF (Phonological Form), it can be
realized either in its base position (appearing postnominally) or in
Specifier of DP (appearing prenominally). It is shown that
demonstratives are generated in a position below functional
projections that host the different classes of adjectives and
immediately superior to the projection whose specifier is occupied by
the postnominal possessive. Furthermore, it is shown that the
demonstrative fulfills the same function regardless of its appearance
in the prenominal or postnominal position: in both cases it provides a
referential interpretation. Hence, it is proposed that the movement of
the demonstrative into SpecDP is motivated by feature checking. In
Spanish it is option before Spell-Out but Obligatory by LF (Logical
Form). This suggests extending the analysis to other languages making
the locus of variation in the obligatoriness, optionality or
impossibility of demonstrative raising before Spell-Out. Therefore,
some languages allow only prenominal demonstratives (Italian, French,
German, Albanian), other languages allow demonstratives both
prenominally and postnominally (Spanish, Catalan, Bosnian, Romanian,
Modern Greek), while yet other languages allow demonstratives only in
the postnominal position (Hebrew, Irish). Thus, the observed
cross-linguistic variation with respect to word order is explained in
terms of feature strength and not the differences in underlying
functional architecture.

Chapter 3: The Functional Structure of Noun Phrases. A Bare Phrase
Structure Approach. By Giuliana Giusti. This paper provides an
overview of recent studies on the syntax of determiners in Romance,
Germanic and Balkan languages and raises some important theoretical
issues. It is hypothesized that among determiners, only articles are
functional heads, whereas demonstratives and other maximal projections
carrying referential features check those features in the Specifier of
the highest functional nominal projection, SpecFPmax. It is shown that
a definite article in some languages is inserted for purely syntactic
reasons regardless of the referential properties of the nominal. In
agreement with the previous chapter, it is claimed that demonstratives
are generated low and raise into the highest Specifier
position. Furthermore, it is claimed that the term ''determiner'' is
spurious. It is used to refer to a number of very different entities
which may or may not be in complementary distribution. In addition to
demonstratives, other occupants of SpecFPmax, such as possessive
adjectives, personal pronouns, and proper names are considered as
well. Other phenomena considered include apparent adpositions and
adjectives inflected for definiteness.

Chapter 4: Stacked Adjectival Modification and the Structure of
Nominal Phrases. By Gary-John Scott. The chapter is concerned with
the restrictions on the relative ordering of adjectives. The proposed
analysis is based on Cinque's Universal Hierarchy of Clausal
Functional Projections. It is argued that adjectives are not adjuncts
but rather ''specifiers of distinct functional projections that are
intrinsically related to aspects of their semantic interpretation''
(p.91). The central questions that such an analysis must address are:
(i) which adjectives belong to which class, (ii) how many classes of
adjectives there are, (iii) whether certain adjectives may belong to
more than one class (as is the case with some adverbs), (iv) whether
these classes and the ordering restrictions in which they occur are
found cross-linguistically. This chapter aims at shedding new light at
these questions. The methodology by which ordering restrictions are
approached is similar to that of Cinque (1999): two or three
adjectives are considered at a time. The following hierarchy of
functional projections hosting adjectives is proposed: DETERMINER >
COMPOUND ELEMENT > NP. The analysis highlights the tight connections
between syntactic and semantic components of the grammar.

Chapter 5: Clause Structure and X-Second. By Anna Cardinaletti and Ian
Roberts. This chapter is concerned with a range of ''second-
position'' phenomena in various languages; from a theoretical point of
view its main focus is on an more elaborate theory of Nominative Case
assignment. It is proposed on the basis of several Germanic and
Romance languages that there is a projection intervening between Comp
and the highest Infl-type projection, which the authors call AgrP1,
referring to the traditional AgrP, the highest Infl-type projection,
as AgrP2. Both AgrP1 and AgrP2 are ''subject'' Agrs. This proposal
connects a number of ''verb-second'' effects with various kinds of
''clitic- second'' effects, known in traditional grammar as
Wachernagel's Law and the Tobler-Mussafia Law. It is proposed that the
higher AgrP is responsible for Nominative Case assignment, attracting
clitics and attracting the inflected verb. These three properties are
shown to be interrelated. Furthermore, it is proposed that in
languages that have both Agr projections the lower AgrP is not
responsible for Nominative Case. The languages considered are
Icelandic, Old French, Yiddish, German, Old English, Old High
German. The paper also considers Stylistic Fronting and embedded

Chapter 6: Agreement and Tense as Distinct Syntactic
Positions. Evidence from Acquisition. By Maria Teresa Guasti and Luigi
Rizzi. As can be seen from the title, this chapter provides new
evidence for clausal functional architecture from studies of language
acquisition. It is argued that ''tense and agreement features are
licensed in distinct syntactic positions in English, with agreement
higher than tense'' (p. 167). The basic pattern is the following:
during the third year of life, learners of English typically produce
negative sentences with third-person subjects and uninflected
'do'. Although inflected and uninflected forms seem to alternate in
child English, this pattern is surprising because the optionality of
agreement on negative 'do' does not carry over to interrogative 'do';
the uninflected form of interrogative 'do' is virtually never
attested. It is proposed that interrogative 'do' and negative 'do'
occupy different positions in the structure, higher and lower than
agreement, respectively.

Chapter 7: The Distribution of Functional Projections in ASL. Evidence
from Overt Expressions of Syntactic Features. By Carol Neidle and Dawn
Maclaughlin. The originality of this chapter is in considering
American Sign Language (ASL), which like many other sign languages has
overt non-manual expressions of many of the major syntactic features
postulated to occur in functional heads. ''These expressions take the
form of particular gestures on the head and upper body that occur
potentially over phrasal domains, in parallel with manual signing''
(p. 195). Specifically, this chapter focuses on expressions of tense,
aspect, agreement, and negation. The chapter starts with important
background information about ASL and ASL research. It is proposed that
in ASL agreement projection is dominated by TP. It is shown that
tense, modals and negation can be expressed through the use of signing
space. Agreement, likewise, can be expressed through using the signing
space; it can also be expressed through non- manual signs. It is thus
concluded that functional architecture of ASL is not much different
from that of oral languages.


Overall, this volume makes an important contribution to the study of
functional categories. One of its strengths is bringing together
research on a large number of unrelated languages, including sign
languages and child languages. Thus, it goes beyond discovering
functional heads necessary to account for a range of phenomena in
specific languages and into streamlining a universal theory of
functional architecture. Another strong point is in the
interconnections between different chapters. For example, chapters 2
and 3 are concerned with demonstratives, chapters 5, 6 and 7 with
agreement. The conclusions made in different chapters seem to support
each other. This shows that distinct sources of evidence can be
brought together to support a uniform theory of functional
architecture. There are, however, certain issues that the volume
leaves largely open. For instance, it is not clear whether the
universal functional architecture is an independent fact of grammar or
whether it can be derived from semantic considerations. Although
various papers in the volume adopt the stronger position with respect
to universality of functional architecture, the question of whether
all the functional projections are present in all structures is not
considered directly. It is left open whether all clauses are CPs and
all nominals are DPs (or FPmax in Giusti's terminology). Despite its
wide linguistic coverage, the main focus of this volume is on Germanic
and Romance languages. It would be nice to see more work on other
languages, such as the notoriously article-less Slavic languages.


Cinque, Guglielmo (1999) Adverbs and Functional Heads: A
Cross-Linguistic Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Asya Pereltsvaig teaches linguistics at California State University
Long Beach and Indiana University. In her doctoral dissertation she
considered issues concerning the functional architecture of nominals
and copular sentences. Her current work focuses on nominal functional
structure in Russian, as well as in other Slavic, Romance, and
Germanic languages.
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