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LINGUIST List 22.469

Wed Jan 26 2011

Diss: Syntax: Yeo: Unifying Optional Wh-movement

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        1.     Norman Yeo , Unifying Optional Wh-movement

Message 1: Unifying Optional Wh-movement
Date: 25-Jan-2011
From: Norman Yeo <equivocal28gmail.com>
Subject: Unifying Optional Wh-movement
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Institution: University of York
Program: Department of Language and Linguistic Science
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2010

Author: Norman Yeo

Dissertation Title: Unifying Optional Wh-movement

Dissertation URL: http://ling.auf.net/lingbuzz/qfafGWksVQIuuFrV/QeNEIcMk?187

Linguistic Field(s): Syntax

Dissertation Director(s):
George Tsoulas

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis puts forward a theory that attempts to unify optional wh-movement
within the Minimalist framework. Optionality is generally problematic for a
theory of Minimalist syntax: movement, when motivated, must occur. This thesis
argues that having a wh-movement language does not strictly entail that
wh-phrases appear fronted in surface syntax. Essentially, the formal optionality
of wh-movement is predicted to fall out via the multiple satisfaction of the
EPP. Wh-movement languages all possess equally economical options to leave
wh-phrases in-situ without a need to postulate an optional EPP feature or
multiple grammars. There are three core pillars to the theory proposed. First,
the QuP hypothesis proposes that universally, a question particle Qu, which is
seen to be a variable over choice functions, takes a wh-phrase as its complement
to form a larger constituent. Second, it is proposed that the principle driving
force of optional movement lies in the Featural Subset Hypothesis. The FSH
proposes that the EPP is not parasitic on Agree; rather, the EPP along with
other features can be arranged into a subset configuration. Depending on the
configuration, three types of equally economical movement can result:
spec-raising, head movement, or phrasal movement. The third pillar of the theory
is the notion of Q-migration,
as first developed in Hagstrom (1998). The concept of Q-migration is heavily
adapted, redeveloped and formalised, appealing to a combination of m-merger
(Matushansky 2006), reprojective movement (Donati 2006) and a new proposed
principle of L(abel)-absorption, which allows the transformation of specifiers
into adjuncts. The main purpose of Q-migration is to obviate island barriers in
order to allow elements within the island, in this case Qu, to escape, yielding
the correct interpretation of wh-in-situ elements within islands. The theory is
then applied to a variety of languages and especially applied in accounting for
the optional wh-movement facts in Singapore English, a contact language with
heavy Chinese substrate influence, for which new and original data will be
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