LINGUIST List 15.1284

Thu Apr 22 2004

Review: Syntax: Grohmann (2003)

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  1. Jonathan White, Prolific Domains: On the Anti-Locality of Movement Dependencies

Message 1: Prolific Domains: On the Anti-Locality of Movement Dependencies

Date: Thu, 22 Apr 2004 13:57:09 -0400 (EDT)
From: Jonathan White <>
Subject: Prolific Domains: On the Anti-Locality of Movement Dependencies

Grohmann, Kleanthes K. (2003) Prolific Domains: On the Anti-Locality
of Movement Dependencies, John Benjamins, Linguistik
Aktuell/Linguistics Today 66.

Announced at

Jonathan White, H�gskolan Dalarna, Sweden


Chapter 1: Locality in grammar The book begins with a discussion of
basic locality phenomena. Two types are recognised, those related to
displacement, i.e. islands; and those related to ''rules of
construal'', i.e. conditions on coindexation, predication and
control. Grohmann notes that, in Minimalist practise, these two types
are collapsed into one. For instance Kayne (2002) analyses pronoun
binding in terms of movement. Then the opposite phenomenon is
considered, anti-locality. The case of thematic relations is taken
up. An important point about Minimalist practise is that movement
between thematic positions is not ruled out (under GB theory it would
have been as a violation of the theta-criterion). If we allow
movement-based derivations of binding and control (see, for example,
Hornstein 1999, 2003), two thematic positions are related by movement:

(1) [John wants [(John) to leave]]

It is still the case, though, that movement between two thematic
positions assigned by the same predicate are ruled out. (2a), meaning
(2b), is ungrammatical:

(2) a. [John [hit t]] b. John hit himself.

The difference here is that movement takes place within the same
thematic domain. This is what anti-locality is about. Movement can
take place across such domains, which Grohmann calls ''prolific
domains'', but not within them.

Chapter 2: Rigorous Minimalism and Anti-locality The second chapter
presents the theoretical framework Grohmann adopts. Some differences
from Minimalism as presented in Chomsky (1993, 1995) are that multiple
specifiers are ruled out, and that phrasal adjunction is a base-
generated relation, not one created by movement. Also, right
adjunction is not ruled out per se. Three prolific domains are
proposed within which movement is ruled out if it creates non-distinct
copies of the moved element - this part is crucial to the analyses to
follow. The first domain is the thematic domain (the theta-domain)
which consists of the vP-VP complex. The second is the agreement
domain (the phi- domain), consisting of agreement and tense
projections (a further important difference from Chomsky 1995 is that
Grohmann keeps a series of agreement phrases). Finally, there is the
discourse domain (the omega-domain), which consists of Topic, Focus
and Complementizer phrases.

Chapter 3: Anti-locality in anaphoric dependencies The first
phenomenon that is treated in terms of prolific domains is
anaphora. Grohmann departs from work like that of Hornstein (2001) in
that the anaphor is not actually present in the numeration, but is
inserted during the derivation. The point is that movement from
internal complement to external argument position within the thematic
domain violates anti- locality. However, the derivation can be saved
if the lower copy is spelled out as an anaphor (thus creating distinct
copies of the moved element):

(3) [John v [likes (John)]] => [John v [likes himself]]

This is shown to work for Exceptional Case-marking contexts as well.

Chapter 4: Copy Spell Out and left dislocation This chapter and the
next one deal with left dislocation constructions. Grohmann recognises
three types with distinct properties. Firstly, there is the hanging
topic construction (HTLD) which is seen in English:

(4) This man, I don't know him.

This is characterised by having a strong intonation break between the
topic and remainder of the sentence and also presents new information.
It is analysed by having the topic base-generated in the specifier of
Topic Phrase, and the resumptive pronoun is also in the numeration.
Anti-locality itself is not an issue here, therefore:

(4') [CP This man [IP I don't [VP know him]]]

The second construction is contrastive left dislocation (CLD), as seen
in German:

(5) Diesen Mann, den kenne ich nicht. This man that know I not

CLD is seen as being different to Topicalization, in that no new
information is presented, and there is no clear intonation break
(among other things). This construction is analysed as movement from
the complement position of ''know'' into the higher discourse
domain. The resumptive pronoun is not part of the numeration. The
topic is in CP, while the resumptive pronoun is in Topic Phrase. This
pronoun performs the same function as the anaphors analysed in the
previous chapter, in that they avoid a violation of anti-locality, but
here in the discourse domain. Consider the derivation of (5) as

(6) [CP Diesen Mann [TopP (diesen Mann) [...]]]

''Diesen Mann'' has moved into the omega-domain (the discourse
domain), but cannot move between Topic Phrase and CP without violating
anti- locality, unless a distinct copy is left behind. The resumptive
pronoun performs this function:

(6') [CP Diesen Mann [TopP den [...]]]

Chapter 5: The Anti-locality of clitic left dislocation The final type
of left dislocation construction is the clitic left dislocation one
(CLLD), as illustrated in Greek:

(7) Afton ton andra, dhen ton ksero. This the man not cl I-know

Here anti-locality is argued to occur in the agreement domain (the
phi- domain). The clitic, which is argued to be a DP structurally, is
moved from its theta position to adjoin to the relevant agreement

(8) [AgrP [Agr DP] [...]]

This adjunction configuration is not one in which agreement features
can be checked (specifier-head is required). Therefore, movement into
the specifier of the Agreement Phrase is required. This is anti-local
movement unless the clitic head is spelled out.:

(8') [AgrP (DP) [Agr (DP)] [...]] => [AgrP (DP) [Agr CL] [...]]

Then the DP moves on to Topic Phrase.

Chapter 6: Prolific domains in the nominal layer Chapter 6 deals with
an example of anti-local movement in nominals. The relevant
construction is prenominal possessive doubling (PPD) as shown in

(9) der Anna ihr Wagen the(dat) Anna her(nom) car (=Anna's car)

Grohmann argues, as many have, that the structure of nominals is
similar to that of clauses. Specifically three domains are assumed:

(10) [DP [AgrP/PossP [NP]]]

These three levels correspond to the discourse, agreement and thematic
domains of clauses. Anti-local movement in PPD is argued to take place
in the middle domain. The possessor moves from PossP to AgrP before
moving on to DP. This is anti-local, and so the extra possessive
(''ihr''in (9)) is the spell out of the copy in PossP:

(11) [AgrP XP [PossP (XP) [NP ...]]] => [AgrP XP [PossP ihr [NP ...]]]

Chapter 7: Successive cyclicity revisited Successive cyclic movement
is considered in this final major chapter. The examples so far have
related to movement across thematic domains. Successive cyclic
movement, on the other hand, is seen as movement between domains of
the same type. The advantage of this approach is that there is no need
to assume that a moved phrase has to adjoin to intermediate
positions. For instance, long distance wh-movement will take place
from CP to CP with there being no need to land in other domains:

(12) [CP XP ... [CP (XP) [AgrP (XP) [vP ...]]]]

Chapter 8: A note on dynamic syntax The final chapter summarises the
approach. One theoretical point that is taken up is where Spell-Out
takes place. Grohmann argues that it does so after each prolific
domain, mirroring Chomsky's (2000, 2001) recent suggestion that Spell-
Out takes place after each phase.


I have found this book to be an interesting addition to our
understanding of movement processes and syntactic constraints on them.
The unification of locality and anti-locality in terms of domains is
well argued for, and all the areas under consideration have been
presented clearly and concisely. I found the chapter on successive
cyclicity to be particularly interesting. The idea that movement
targets particular domains, and that there is no need for a phrase to
pass through intermediate positions in other domains, is a very
interesting proposal. It would have also been interesting to see how
locality phenomena proper can be handled under these assumptions, such
as tense and negation islands. There is also the question of covert
movement. Many authors have proposed that covert phrasal movement
should be possible (see, for example, Pesetsky 2000). Does this type
of movement conform to similar locality or anti-locality conditions?
My overall impression of the book is, though, a positive one. It is
well argued and raises important questions for theorists about the
nature of locality.


Chomsky, Noam (1993) A minimalist program for linguistic theory. In
The view from Building 20. Hale and Keyser (eds.). Cambridge, Mass.:
MIT Press. 1-52.

Chomsky, Noam (1995) Categories and transformations. In The Minimalist
Program. Chomsky (ed.). Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. 219-394.

Chomsky, Noam (2000) Minimalist inquiries: the framework. In Step by
step: Essays in minimalist syntax in honor of Howard Lasnik. Martin,
Micheals and Uriagereka (eds.). Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. 89-155.

Chomsky, Noam (2001) Derivation by phase. ms. MIT.

Hornstein, Norbert (1999) Movement and control. In Linguistic Inquiry
30. 69-96.

Hornstein, Norbert (2001) Move! A Minimalist theory of Construal.
Oxford: Blackwell.

Hornstein, Norbert (2003) On control. In Minimalist Syntax. Hendrick
(ed.). Oxford: Blackwell. 6-81.

Kayne, Richard (2002) Pronouns and their antecedents. In Derivation
and explanation in the Minimalist program. Epstein and Seely (eds.).
Oxford: Blackwell. 133-166.

Pesetsky, David (2000) Phrasal movement and its kin. Cambridge, Mass.:
MIT Press.


Reviewer's research interests: Phrase structure, syntax and semantics
of adverbials, interfaces between syntax and semantics and between
syntax and morphology.
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