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LINGUIST List 23.2491

Fri May 25 2012

Diss: Syntax: Huhmarniemi: 'Finnish A'-movement: Edges and islands'

Editor for this issue: Xiyan Wang <xiyanlinguistlist.org>

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Date: 25-May-2012
From: Saara Huhmarniemi <saara.huhmarniemihelsinki.fi>
Subject: Finnish A'-movement: Edges and islands
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Institution: University of Helsinki
Program: Cognitive Science
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2012

Author: Saara Huhmarniemi

Dissertation Title: Finnish A'-movement: Edges and islands

Dissertation URL: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-10-7712-8

Linguistic Field(s): Syntax

Dissertation Director:
Anne Vainikka
Pauli Brattico

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis investigates Finnish interrogative sentences and similar
consructions from the perspective of biolinguistics and the Minimalist
Program (Chomsky 1995, Chomsky 2000). Finnish interrogatives display one of
the elementary properties of natural language: grammatical movement from
one position to another. The movement of the question phrase in an
interrogative sentence can be seen as an instance of a more general
A′-movement that is typically triggered by discourse factors. The aim of
this thesis is to establish an overall view to the A′-movement phenomena in
Finnish that functions as a basis for future research on these topics.

The focus of the investigation is on two syntactic phenomena: the syntactic
edge position that is the target of A′-movement and island conditions that
restrict movement to this position. In Finnish interrogative sentences, the
question phrase targets the edge of a finite clause. However, the presence
of an edge position can be observed in a variety of phrases in Finnish. A
particular emphasis of this thesis is on phrases that undergo pied-piping,
that is, movement of a larger constituent that contains the interrogative
element. It is argued that the position of the wh-phrase at the edge is a
necessary pre-requisite for pied-piping in Finnish wh-questions and
relative clauses. With this respect, Finnish follows the existing
cross-linguistic generalizations on pied-piping. Furthermore, the Finnish
recursive pied-piping displays properties of successive cyclic movement via
edges of pied-piped phrases, resulting to a form of snowball movement.

As a result of a detailed investigation on the syntactic constructions,
this thesis provides an inventory of pied-piped phrase types in Finnish and
a discussion on the different mechanisms for obtaining the edge position
among phrases. Among the island phenomena investigated are the adjunct
island condition and constraints on subject extraction. It is proposed that
Finnish obeys the adjunct island condition and the availability of subject
extraction is sensitive to the presence of subject-predicate agreement,
displaying a form of anti-agreement effect.

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