LINGUIST List 16.757
Sat Mar 12 2005
Review: Syntax: Nunes (2004)
Editor for this issue: Naomi Ogasawara <naomilinguistlist.org>
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Linearization of Chains and Sideward Movement
Message 1: Linearization of Chains and Sideward Movement
From: Brent Henderson <bhendrsnuiuc.edu>
Subject: Linearization of Chains and Sideward Movement
AUTHOR: Nunes, Jairo
TITLE: Linearization of Chains and Sideward Movement
SERIES: Linguistic Inquiry Monograph
PUBLISHER: MIT Press
Announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/15/15-2309.html
Brent Henderson, Department of Linguistics, University of Illinois, Urbana-
Jairo Nunes' book "Linearization of Chains and Sideward Movement" takes
seriously two important ideas in recent minimalist theories. One is
Chomsky's (1993) notion that movement can be decomposed into the
operations Copy and Merge. In this view, a syntactic element to be moved
is first copied by the computational system. Then the copy of the item is
merged at the root of the derivation in its appropriate place. The second
idea, embodied in Takahashi's (1994) Form Chain, is the notion that chains
are representational syntactic objects rather than just notational
conventions. Under this view chains do not license movement. In fact, the
derivational history of an element and its copies is unimportant for the
purposes of chain formation. As long as all of the members of a chain are
in the proper relationship (c-command) at the end of a derivation, the
chain is legitimate.
Nunes' most original idea is recognizing that the adoption of Copy, Merge,
and Form Chain as independent operations predicts that certain types of
derivations not possible under more traditional notions of movement and
chain formation should be attested. In particular, there is nothing in the
system to prevent movement relations between parallel, unconnected
derivations from occurring as long as the conditions of chain formation
are met at the end of the derivation. Such kinds of movement are what
Nunes refers to as 'sideward movement,' and they allow an elegant and
novel account of problematic constructions such as parasitic gap
constructions and across the board movement. Take, for example, a
parasitic gap construction such as (1):
(1) Which report did you file __ [without reading __ ]
The two most salient properties of parasitic gap constructions have been
widely discussed. First, (1) involves extraction from an adjunct, an
extraction generally disallowed across languages. Second, this extraction
is disallowed if the argument gap is not also present:
(2) *Which report did you file a book [without reading __ ]
Thus, two questions arise. First, why should extraction out of adjuncts
ever be allowed? And second, why should it be allowed dependent upon
extraction of an argument from the main clause? Nunes points out that the
Copy theory of movement and Form Chain offer a natural answer that does
not resort to construction-specific rules or ad hoc solutions.
First, imagine the derivation of the adjunct in (1) has taken place as in
(3) [without reading [which report]]
Now, in parallel, we begin construction of the main clause. However,
rather than merging a distinct argument as the object of the verb 'file,'
we make a copy of [which report] and allow the copy to be merged as the
argument. We will now have two parallel structures as in (4)
a. [without reading [which report]k]
b. [you file [which report]j]
Finally, wh-movement of the object of the verb [file] and the two
structures in (4) are merged. The final derivation is as in (5). It is at
this point that Form Chain applies, constructing two independent chains.
One is between the highest copy of [which report] and the copy of [which
report] in argument position. The other chain is between the highest copy
of [which report] and the copy in the adjunct.
(5) [[which report]j/k did you file [which report]j [without reading
Since only the highest copy of each chain is pronounced, the result is
that only the topmost copy of [which report] gets pronounced while both
lower copies are not, yielding the familiar double-gap construction.
With the adoption of Form Chain and the Copy theory of movement, the
second major question that arises has to do with linearization and
pronunciation. For any non-trivial chain, why do we pronounce only one
particular chain link? Why does that link always seem to be the head of
the chain, rather than its tail or some intermediate link? Nunes' answer
to this comes from the independently-motivated Linear Correspondence Axiom
(Kayne 1994) which he takes to apply at the level of linearization only.
Since copies are non-distinct elements, he argues, any non-trivial chain
cannot be linearized since it will require that the same item both precede
and follow some other element. Therefore, before the LCA can apply, an
operation called Chain Reduction must apply, deleting all but one link of
the chain. Only then can linearization according to the LCA take place.
But what decides which links are deleted and which one is preserved? Nunes
argues that the only way in which copies in a chain differ is with regard
to their formal features. Movement, being subject to Last Resort, only
takes place for purposes of feature checking. Thus, lower copies in a
chain will have formal features unchecked that the topmost copy in a chain
will not. Since the computational system requires that formal features be
eliminated by the interface level (to meet the requirement of Full
Interpretation), Chain Reduction will always choose to preserve the
highest copy and delete the lower ones. Nunes also discusses some marginal
exceptions to these principles, showing that they follow from independent
assumptions and do not contradict the system.
Overall, Nunes' book is a brilliant theoretical exercise and embodies the
spirit of the minimalist program. He makes the simplest and most natural
assumptions possible about the nature of movement and chain formation, and
then explores the implications of his assumptions, demonstrating that they
increase the understanding of how movement works in otherwise difficult to
analyze multiple gap constructions. The explanatory power he achieves is
Missing from the work, however, is any detailed discussion of alternative
accounts of the empirical puzzles his system solves. Especially surprising
is a complete lack of reference to Nissenbaum's (2002) influential account
of parasitic gap constructions. One would like to know if Nissenbaum's
account is compatible with Nunes', or if there are reasons to choose one
over the other. Discussion of alternative minimalist accounts of Across
The Board constructions, such as Citko's (2001) Parallel Merge account,
are also missing.
The basic ideas from the book, discussed above, were first put forth in
Nunes' 1995 Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Maryland, College
Park. Since that time, many linguists have found these ideas to be useful
in many syntactic domains. Roehrs and Labelle (2003), for instance, adopt
Nunes' compositional view of movement to explain performance errors in
children learning French. Boeckx (2003) demonstrates that sideward
movement captures the basic properties of donkey anaphora. Nunes and
Uriagereka (2000) show that sideward movement also captures many of the
conditions on extraction domains.
Finally, Kiguchi (2003) develops Nunes' assumptions to argue that the
traditional notion of 'chain' has no place in a minimalist theory of
syntax. Indeed, one wonders if the reductions Nunes achieves could be
taken further, eliminating the need for copying and external merge
altogether. Such an approach has been taken by some researchers, who
suggest that movement should be described in terms of remerger (see Starke
2001, among several others). However, Nunes does not discuss the
possibility of multi-dominance structures as a solution to the non-
minimalist flavor of the tradition Movement operation.
Boeckx, Cedric. 2003. (In)Direct Binding. Syntax, 6, 3, 213-236.
Chomsky, Naom. 1993. A minimalist program for linguistic theory. In The
View from Building 20: Essays in linguistics in honor of Sylvain
Bromberger. Ken Hale and Samuel Keyser (eds). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp
Citko, Barbara. 2001. Parallel Merge and the Syntax of Free Relatives.
Ph.D. Dissertation, University of New York, Stony Brook.
Kayne, Richard. 1994. The Antisymmetry of Syntax. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Kiguchi, Hirohisa. 2003. Syntax Unchained. Ph.D. dissertation, University
of Maryland, College Park.
Nissenbaum, Jonathan. 2002. Investigations of Covert Phrasal Movement.
Ph.D. Dissertation, MIT.
Nunes, Jairo and Juan Uriagereka. Cyclicity and Extraction Domains.
Syntax, 3, 1, 20-43.
Roehrs, Dorian and Marie Labelle. 2001. The Left Periphery in Child
French: Evidence for a Simply-Split CP. In Romance Languages and
Linguistic Theory 2001: Selected Papers from 'Going Romance,' Amsterdam 6-
8 December 2001. Jan Schroten, Mauro Scorretti, Petra Sleeman & Els
Verheugd (eds). Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp 279-294.
Takahashi, Daiko. 1994. Minimality of Movement. Doctoral dissertation,
University of Connecticut, Storrs.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Brent Henderson is a Ph.D. candidate in linguistics at the University of
Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His interests include the syntax of relative
clauses, phrase structure, and minimalist theory. He is currently writing
his dissertation on Bantu relative clauses and their theoretical
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