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LINGUIST List 19.281

Wed Jan 23 2008

Diss: Syntax: Gallego: 'Phase Theory and Parametric Variation'

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        1.    Ángel Gallego, Phase Theory and Parametric Variation

Message 1: Phase Theory and Parametric Variation
Date: 21-Jan-2008
From: Ángel Gallego <angel.gallegouab.es>
Subject: Phase Theory and Parametric Variation
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Institution: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Program: Cognitive Science and Language
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2007

Author: Ángel J. Gallego

Dissertation Title: Phase Theory and Parametric Variation

Dissertation URL: http://seneca.uab.es/ggt/membres/gallego.htm

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

Dissertation Director:
Juan Uriagereka
José M. Brucart

Dissertation Abstract:

The goal of this dissertation is to explore Chomsky's Phase Theory (see
Chomsky 2000; 2001; 2004; 2005; 2007; to appear) and its connections with
parametric variation. The study considers the hypothesis that syntactic
computation operates through small derivational leaps (the phases), paying
special attention to the Case/agreement systems, and the role of overt
morphology for linguistic variation.

Chapter I presents the general guidelines of the framework that shall be
assumed throughout the dissertation (the so-called Minimalist Program; see
Chomsky 1993a through the present), concentrating on both the core
computational operations (Merge and Agree) and the cyclic nature of the system.

Chapter II is devoted to the notion of phase, whose identification criteria
are considered at length. I adopt Pesetsky & Torrego's (2001) hypothesis
that what is normally referred to as 'Case' is actually an uninterpretable
'aspect'/'tense' feature on D heads, and entertain the idea (present in
Chomsky's system, as well as in Pesetsky & Torrego's) that uninterpretable
morphology can be used for syntactic processes only within a short,
phase-based, time span.

In line with Uriagereka (1999b), I further propose that Null Subject
Languages (NSLs) resort to an additional process of Transfer that is
responsible for a macro-parameter triggered by verb movement, which I call
Phase Sliding. Plausibly, this mechanism explains the particular status of
subjects in NSLs (e.g., subject extraction, that-deletion, obligatory
inversion, etc.) and additional empirical facts, previously framed in terms
of bounding nodes, L-marking, government, or the A/A-bar distinction.

In chapter III, attention is shifted to a micro-parameter related to the
edge of phase heads (their Left Periphery). I argue for a parametric cut
that concerns what Uriagereka (1995a; 1995b; 2002b) calls "FP," a
projection related to discourse-oriented semantics (formerly, "surface
interpretation"). I claim that the 'hot' syntactic activity of Uriagereka's
F is not limited to the CP layer, but is actually found in the v*P too, in
a parallel fashion (actually, as predicted by Uriagereka 2002b, the pattern
extends to nominal environments): those languages with a more active CP,
have a more active v*P. I relate this peripheral boost to overt morphology,
a traditional idea that is sharpened and connected to tense morphology and
head movement.

The second part of the chapter focuses on VOS structures in NSLs, for which
I argue that there are two strategies: object scrambling and VP
topicalization (see Belletti 2004, Cardinaletti 2001b, and Ordóñez 1997;
1998b). With Ordóñez (1997; 1998b), I take Spanish VOS to be derived
through object scrambling, considering its consequences for nominative Case
assignment and the availability of VSO.

Chapter IV is dedicated to (sub-)extraction. I argue that islandhood cannot
be entirely accounted for in structural terms (see Chomsky 1986a; 2004; to
appear), being better understood if related to freezing effects that emerge
from the interaction between Case and agreement (see Boeckx 2003a).

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