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The Language Hoax

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Language and Development in Africa

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Academic Paper


Title: English Focus Inversion
Author: Peter W. Culicover
Email: click here TO access email
Homepage: http://www.ling.ohio-state.edu/~culicove
Institution: Ohio State University
Author: Susanne Winkler
Institution: Universität Tübingen
Linguistic Field: Phonology; Syntax
Abstract: Besides the canonical Subject–I–VP structure, English has several inversion constructions in which the subject follows the inflected verb. The most familiar is Subject Auxiliary Inversion (SAI) which is analyzed as an instance of Head Movement (I–to–C-movement across the subject) in the generative tradition. In this paper we investigate Comparative Inversion (CI), which appears to be a special case of SAI in which ellipsis is required (Merchant ). Contrary to this analysis, we show that the subject can stay low in a noncanonical position, violating the Extended Projection Principle (EPP) in exactly those instances where it is under comparison and therefore heavily accented and contrastively focused. Our analysis shows that the non-application of the EPP is tied to regular interactions of syntax with phonology and syntax with semantics. We extend this in depth analysis to other English focus inversions and provide evidence that phonological highlighting and focus on the low subject can suspend the EPP. Thus, our analysis supports research programs which assume minimal syntactic structure and operations in interaction with interface constraints that are independently required for explanation.

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This article appears IN Journal of Linguistics Vol. 44, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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