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LINGUIST List 16.1463

Mon May 09 2005

Diss: Syntax: Richards: 'Object Shift and ...'

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        1.    Marc Richards, Object Shift and Scrambling in North and West Germanic: A Case Study in Symmetrical Syntax

Message 1: Object Shift and Scrambling in North and West Germanic: A Case Study in Symmetrical Syntax
Date: 06-May-2005
From: Marc Richards <mdr23cam.ac.uk>
Subject: Object Shift and Scrambling in North and West Germanic: A Case Study in Symmetrical Syntax

Institution: University of Cambridge
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2005

Author: Marc Richards

Dissertation Title: Object Shift and Scrambling in North and West Germanic: A Case Study in Symmetrical Syntax

Linguistic Field(s): Syntax
Language Family(ies): Germanic

Dissertation Director:
Ian G. Roberts

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis examines the well-known phenomena of (Germanic) Object Shift
and Scrambling from the perspective of a strictly minimalist, purely
symmetrical, phase-cyclic syntax, arguing that their characteristic
shape-conserving property derives straightforwardly from the fundamental
'symmetry-breaking' strategies that ensure the linearization of such a system.

Chapter Two offers a unified analysis of Object Shift and Scrambling as
parametrically determined variants of a single, primitive, head-complement
ordering parameter - a version of Kayne's LCA operative at the syntax-PF
interface. The verb-object order-preservation effect known as Holmberg's
Generalization is immediately implied. The obligatory nature of Object
Shift with weak pronouns is then shown to provide direct evidence that the
phase boundaries defined by Chomsky's Phase Impenetrability Condition (PIC)
delimit a phonological as well as syntactic unit.

In Chapter Three, I argue that the coexistence of order-preserving and
order-permuting movement types in a single grammar lends further support to
Chomsky's phases (as linearization domains), and indicates the presence of
a defective v phase-head selecting passive/unaccusative VPs. I make the
simple observation that those movement types that invert basic order (e.g.
passivization, wh-movement) are also those that target a position outside
the original phase, whereas shape-conserving movement (OS/Scrambling) is
'short distance', i.e. phase-internal. This generalization, which I reduce
to the periodic 'forgetting' of derivational information under the PIC,
entails that cyclic linearization proceeds in a manner diametrically
opposed to the 'resetting' algorithm of Fox & Pesetsky (2003 et seq.). I
offer some modifications to Chomsky's phase theory that remove the
weak/strong phase distinction and yield a unified, nonstipulative,
lexical-array-based reformulation of the PIC. Spec-v now emerges as the
only possible merge-site for (there-type) expletives in the
Probe-Goal-Agree system. This low merge-site for expletives solves a number
of technical, conceptual and empirical problems faced by standard
(Merge-TP) approaches and allows a superior analysis of Transitive
Expletive Constructions.

Chapter Four investigates the role of Case theory in the proposed account
of linear shape effects. I argue that Case features assume a central
importance at the syntax-PF interface in regulating the timing of
Transfer/Spell-Out, so that an active element is locally identified as
nonfinal for PF/linearization purposes. The predicted interplay between
movement, shape, and phasal Spell-Out accounts for all the empirical facts
observed across the Germanic paradigm. Finally, to support the case for
Case still further, a defence is mounted for the indispensability of Case
features in the computation of LF. On the basis of the vP-analysis of
expletives proposed in Chapter Three and a strong form of the activeness
hypothesis, I propose a novel, unified analysis of Person-Case and
definiteness restrictions that derives and explains the previously poorly
understood commonalities in behaviour between expletives and (Icelandic)
quirky case. Defective intervention (and the Match/Agree distinction) is
eliminated, dissolving into a heterogeneous range of phenomena that reduce,
variously, to PIC effects, Agree-(in)activeness, the timing of
optional-EPP-driven movement, and, in the case of Match-driven Move and
multiple Agree, a parametrized approach to phi-completeness.

A much simpler, neater system emerges, one in which nonlexical
macroparameters (such as the proposed head-directionality parameter) find a
natural home as interface desymmetrization strategies that dispose of
superfluous and illegible (symmetric) syntactic information.

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