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Review of  Beyond Functional Sequence

Reviewer: Ferid Chekili
Book Title: Beyond Functional Sequence
Book Author: Ur Shlonsky
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Linguistic Field(s): Morphology
Subject Language(s): Chinese, Mandarin
Creole English, Jamaican
Issue Number: 27.4155

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Reviews Editor: Robert A. Cote


The edited collection under review, “Beyond Functional Sequence: The Cartography of Syntactic Structures, Volume 10” by Ur Shlonsky, investigates results of research in the cartographic approach to syntax, in particular, the determinants of the hierarchy of functional heads believed to be “imposed by constraints on the interpretive interfaces, interacting with the core processes of computation”(3).

In addition to an Introduction by the editor, the volume includes a number of chapters based on presentations made at the ‘Syntactic Cartography: Where do we go from here?’ conference held at the University of Geneva in 2012 and grouped together thematically into four parts: Part 1, “The Articulation of Focus”, consists of five chapters; four chapters make up Part 2 “Word Order, Features and Agreement”; Part 3, “The Left Periphery”, has three chapters and Part 4, “Hierarchies and Labels”, four chapters. Each chapter ends in a list of references and the volume as a whole includes a common index.


In his introduction, the editor presents an overview of the theory of cartography then turns to a detailed presentation of the papers, focusing essentially on their “contribution to the cartographic enterprise” (3).

Part One: The Articulation of Focus

In Chapter 1, 'Can the Metrical Structure of Italian Motivate Focus Fronting?', Giuliano Bocci and Cinzia Avesani react against the approach to focus movement to the left periphery in Italian as realignment of constituents to prosodic boundaries (the stress-based approach). In particular, the conclusions drawn on the basis of a production experiment, supported by a comprehension experiment, argue against the stress-based approach to focus movement and in favour of the cartographic view according to which “[D]iscourse-related features are encoded in the initial numeration and drive the syntactic computation” (27).

Adriana Belletti, in Chapter 2 'The Focus Map of Clefts: Extraposition and Predication', presents a cartographic analysis of cleft sentences that expresses “the forms of focalization that clefts may realize, different in their informational content” (42). The analysis is based on the hypothesis that focus can appear either on the left periphery of vP (a low zone) or on the left periphery of TP (a high zone), and also, on the observation that the focus position is different in the two cases: new information in the vP peripheral zone and corrective/contrastive one in the higher zone (46). This, she argues, has “the desired consequence of deriving the possibly different discourse values associated to subject and object/non-subject clefts, respectively, on principled grounds” (48). She also, reviews the analysis of the dummy subject of clefts and concludes that it has “a different status than a pure expletive” (49).

In Chapter 3, 'Focus Fronting and the Syntax-Semantics Interface', Valentina Bianchi applies the Interface Root-Restriction hypothesis (Bianchi and Frascarelli, 2010) according to which Information Structure phenomena that affect the conversational dynamics must occur in clauses endowed with illocutionary force (60) to Italian focus movement and argues that it is capable of explaining the restricted syntactic behavior of this construction. Focus fronting in Italian can be found either in corrective contexts or in mirative ones, i.e. with unexpected, emphatic implicature. She also argues that the conversational context is updated by the interpretive import (corrective or mirative) associated with focus fronting and by the Interface Root Restriction hypothesis. Thus, this structure may only occur in clauses endowed with illocutionary force (encoded in the left periphery in ForceP). She also argues, based on the case study of Italian focus fronting, and following Haegeman (2004) that root and “quasi-subordinate” clauses “have a richer left periphery, where a specific information structure category (the focus phrase) is licensed by the presence of illocutionary force. She concludes by saying that this does not necessarily imply that the compositional hierarchy is dictated by semantics, rather the syntactic module can still be taken to mediate “the relation between the fundamentally hierarchical semantic/conceptual structure and the fundamentally linear phonological representation” (70).

In Chapter 4, 'The Syntax of It-Clefts and the Left Periphery of the Clause', Liliane Haegeman, Andre Meinunger and Aleksandra Vercauteren evaluate two cartographic analyses of English it-clefts: the two analyses derive it-clefts by multiple movements to the left periphery. However, they assume different positions for the cleft pivot: in the 'embedded' -bi-clausal- analysis, it-clefts are derived by movement of the cleft focus to the specifier of FocP in the cleft relative (e.g. Belletti 2004). In the 'matrix' -mono-clausal- analyses, the focused constituent is moved to the matrix left periphery (like focus movement and question formation). The authors note that the mono-clausal approach faces problems with wh-movement of cleft pivots (which requires the postulation of an unjustified second FocusP) and also, with intervening negation. A solution to these problems, they argue, is to postulate a specialized lower LP position for the cleft focus, i.e. the embedded approach is shown to be superior.

In Chapter 5, 'Focus and wh in Jamaican Creole: Movement and Exhaustiveness', Stephanie Durrleman and Ur Shlonsky espouse the opposite position to that taken in the previous chapter. They argue that focus constructions in Jamaican Creole (JC) receive a better explanation on the left peripheral account. They also, show that JC focus and wh-questions, like clefts, have an exhaustive focus interpretation. However, this does not entail that they are clefts. They also, show that ‘a’ is not a copula that introduces a cleft but an operator of exhaustive identification (EI). The authors argue that it is the features [wh] and [EI] that trigger movement to the JC left periphery. Finally, the differences between JC focus and Italian focus can be understood if the difference between exhaustive and nonexhaustive focus is taken into account.

Part Two: Word Order, Features, and Agreement

Cecilia Poletto in Chapter 6, 'Word Orders in the Old Italian DP', defends the claim that DPs-like clauses- also have a left periphery. Her data include modifiers of nouns in Old Italian (OI) versus Modern Italian (MI). She shows that some scrambling phenomena in the DP area in OI can be analysed in a way similar to V2 in the CP phase. The OI orders are taken to follow from certain syntactic processes. For instance, OI had an N-raising operation to small d (parallel to T-raising to C) whereas this operation has disappeared in MI. Similarly, whereas in MI, N moves above the adjective, in OI, N moves to d, and AdjP moves above dP (in the left periphery). Poletto concludes by writing “the only difference between OI and MI is that the left periphery of OI can attract adjectives to a position where they maintain their restrictive reading, while this is not the case in MI”. (126).

In Chapter 7, 'The CP/DP (Non-)Parallelism Revisited', Christopher Laenzlinger uses a comparative survey within the framework of cartography in order to investigate the following questions: 1. To what extent are the clause and N structures parallel cross-linguistically? And 2. In the N and clause structures, what is general and what is parametrized? His methodology is to take the position of adverbs and adjectives to be fixed within the midfield of the clause and the NP structure, whereas “subjects and complements can 'float' among these modifiers” (128). Starting from the distribution of adverbs within the clause and of adjectives within the noun phrase, the author identifies three parallel domains between the clause and the noun phrase: the Nachfeld (vP/nP), the Mittlefeld (TP/NumP) and the Vorfeld (CP/DP). She first deals with the comparative study of clause structure “based on the strict position of adverbs and the possible various position of arguments” (128) then she turns to the internal structure of the noun phrase with respect to the positions of the adjectives and the DP/PP complements. The movement operations that apply in the two domains are shown to be very similar and a number of parametric variations among the languages under study have been identified.

In Chapter 8, 'Cartography and Optional Feature Realization in the Nominal Expression', Anna Cardinaletti and Giuliana Giusti, similarly to Laenzlinger, assume a tripartite structure of DP parallel to the clausal structure. Departing from this structure, they focus on concord, i.e. the relation that triggers feature sharing between a specifier and a head. They consider a particular example of concord in which the realisation of the head compensates for the lack of features on the specifier: Compensatory concord. The paper focuses on the realisation of concord features on the adjective ‘bel’ in prenominal position in Italian and the dialect of Ancona, which has an identical declension to the definite article and a different one from that of the same adjective when it is post nominal. The explanation of the behaviour of ‘bel’, they argue, cannot be given in linear phonological terms, but must draw on syntactic hierarchy and cartographic structure. Optional feature realisation can show further restrictions which they term the 'bottom-up' effect as in Anconetano. The authors propose a syntactic answer to this 'bottom-up' effect'. They have, also, shown that a similar pattern to the 'bottom-up' effect can be found in the Florentine dialect that should be handled phonologically and hence displays a 'left-to-right' effect.

In Chapter 9, 'Czech Numerals and No Bundling', Pavel Caha investigates higher numerals in Czech, in particular, their case patterns. The author argues that, in order to understand Czech numerals' behaviour with respect to case, the numerals must be analysed as phrasal lexical items with a noun at the bottom. The proposal, Caha argues, has a number of advantages. For instance, it is compatible with the No Bundling hypothesis according to which each morphosyntactic feature is a head. Similarly, the analysis accounts for the ambiguity of some numerals between Ns and numerals. Finally, the author's contribution is in proposing a novel picture of semi-lexical categories.

Part Three: The Left Periphery

Chapter 10, 'Cartographic Structures in Diachrony: The Case of C-Omission', is a study by Irene Franco of the diachrony of finite subordinating complementizers in Old Florentine, Renaissance Florentine and Modern Italian. She argues that the changes in the realization of C “result from a change in the combination of some syntactic properties” (200). In particular, she argues, the C-omission in Renaissance Florentine is caused by “(1) the loss of V-to-C, (2) a related change in the licensing of null subjects, and (3) an active/inactive distinction that is also, reflected in the morphosyntax of C-elements” (200). Finally, she uses the proposal to make a number of predictions regarding the unavailability of C-omission.

In Chapter 11, 'Two ReasonPs: What Are*(n't) You Coming to the United States For?', Yoshio Endo, departing from Rizzi's (1990) proposal regarding the location of ‘why’ and ‘how come’ and its amendment in Shlonsky and Soare (2011), investigates ‘what...for’ questions and their relation to ‘why-like-what’ interrogatives also found in Japanese. Based on their behaviour with respect to negative island effects, Endo proposes two types of ReasonP: ‘what’ located lower than Neg, and ‘why’ higher, yielding the following hierarchy (his (25): ReasonP1 (high) why (CP) > Neg > [ReasonP2 (low) WHAT. He also, suggests that movement from the two ReasnPs targets different Int(errogative)Ps.

In Chapter 12, 'Double Fronting in Bavarian Left Periphery', Gunther Grewendorf studies certain properties of the left periphery in Bavarian, a southern dialect of German. In particular, he investigates what he terms Bavarian Extraction (BE), a movement from an embedded clause which is allowed only if the clause has been fronted to the left periphery. He argues that the constraints on the construction may be tied to certain properties of the left periphery such as the fact that only two positions can be overtly occupied in the German and Bavarian left periphery (235).

Part Four: Hierarchies and Labels

Mamoru Saito, in Chapter 13 'Cartography and selection: Case Studies in Japanese', aims at combining results from Ueda (2007) regarding modals, Saito (2009) regarding complementizers and Endo (2010) regarding the distributions of sentence-final particles, in order to obtain “a more comprehensive picture of the cartography of the Japanese right periphery”(255). He also aims at exploring the sources of the hierarchy. Regarding modals, he argues that their distribution follows from morphology and s-selection. Similarly, the hierarchy of complementizers “can be explained by the s-selection and semantic properties of the complementizers” (256). Finally, the distribution of sentence-final particles is argued to follow from s-selection and compatibility of speech acts. The results suggest that “there is no need to postulate constraints or hierarchies for Japanese phrase structure as the relevant facts are derivable from lexical properties. This is in line with the Minimalist hypothesis that all that is required for phrase structure building is the minimal operation Merge” (273).

Chapter 14, 'On the Topography of Chinese Modals' by Wei-Tien Dylan Tsai, is a study of modals. In Mandarin Chinese, several modals may occur in a single phrase. Tsai adopts an analysis of modals using Rizzi's (1997) three domains of the clause: epistemic modality encoded on the complementizer layer, deontic modality on the inflectional layer, and dynamic modality on the lexical layer. Thus, whereas epistemic modals are associated with information structure, deontic modals are linked to event structure, and dynamic modals to argument structure. A number of tests towards establishing this hierarchy are used. Tsai, also, attempts to make a distinction between modal adverbs and modal auxiliaries and concludes his paper by considering some consequences of his three-tier modal analysis.

Chapter 15, 'The Clausal Hierarchy, Features, and Parameters' by Theresa Biberauer and Ian Roberts, investigates the role and nature of formal hierarchies. Three types are identified: the clausal hierarchy, featural hierarchies, and parameter hierarchies. The authors argue, on the basis of a number of diagnostics, that the three hierarchies may, in fact, be reduced to a single formal hierarchy which is “an emergent property of the interaction of the three factors of language design introduced by Chomsky (2005), namely, UG […], Primary Linguistic Data for language acquisition […], and third-factor considerations of cognitive computational conservativity [...]”(295).This, they argue, may “unify cartographic analysis with Chomsky's (2001) CFCs and Grimshaw's (1991) Extended projections” (310).

In Chapter 16, 'Cartography, Criteria, and Labeling', Luigi Rizzi returns to the issue of Criterial freezing effects. Rizzi (e.g. 1997) has claimed that the scope/discourse interpretations are determined by a set of principles (criteria) which require an element with an information structural intent to enter into a spec-head agreement relation with a relevant head. Once an element has reached a criterial position, it cannot move any further: Criterial freezing effects. Rizzi argues that the freezing effects require “further explanation” and shows that Chomsky's (2013) labeling algorithm is able to explain them: The 'Maximality principle' together with a definition of what constitutes a maximal projection, is able to explain the reason why, in the criterial configuration [αXPYP] neither XP nor YP is maximal; only the whole category [XPYP] is maximal. Therefore, further movement of one of the categories is excluded and the freezing effect explained. The algorithm, he argues, provides a solution to the 'halting problem' for movement.


The main contribution of the book, I believe, is in succeeding in presenting, in a single volume, results of current research in cartography as exemplified in a number of papers. Another strong feature of the volume can be seen in the contributions of the papers to the theory of Cartography as well as the ability of the theory to account for the seemingly disparate data, pointing to the existence of recalcitrant cases requiring further investigation whenever relevant.

Other significant and helpful features of the collection include the comprehensive index provided, but more importantly, the introduction by the editor which, not only provides a summary of the theory of cartography, but more significantly, presents the papers in an insightful manner and provides the thread which links them together and expresses their unity.

Some of the weaker points of the collection include:

1. The existence of contradictory analyses (e.g. chapter 4 vs. chapter 5) is indicative of the still uncertain nature of the analyses and of the fact that a lot remains to be done in this area.

2. A large number of typographical errors; the following is a selected list:
- p. 24, Line 10: 'occurs'
- p. 31, para. 3: 'of sentence' and 'This strongly suggest'
- p.36, Section 4.4, Line 1: 'that that'
- p.43, Section 2, Line 8: 'It can be assume'
- p.45, (5b) and (6b): 'No'
- different pages (e.g. 93-94): different spellings of 'copula'

3. Some inconsistencies, e.g.:
- some examples and their explanations do not match: e.g. p.222, example (5); p.226, Line 2: 'Foc > why'
- Many questions are raised and speculations made; e.g.
- p. 226, Line 15: 'Based on this fact...'.
- p. 227, footnote 12.
- p. 229, para. 3
- p. 229, footnote 17
- p. 230, footnote 18

4. Finally, it may be useful to note the criticism –both from within and outside Minimalism- that has been leveled at Cartography generally (and not this particular volume), found in a number of publications, such as Jeroen Van Craenenbroeck’s (2009) ‘Alternatives to Cartography’ which is “significant...for signaling the beginning of a potential change in the tide of generative grammar publications- away from what is known as ‘cartography’...and toward ‘alternatives to cartography’ necessitated by the empirical and conceptual challenges faced by the cartographic program” (Bailyn, 2011, p.665):

One such empirical problem concerns information structure and the cartographic claim that focus and topic occupy fixed positions. Joao Costa (2009), for example, argues that, although focus occurs finally in European Portuguese, it is positioned to the left of the element it binds whenever it serves as a binder within VP. Costa concludes that a more flexible approach to information structure must be developed.

The volume, also, presents a number of theoretical arguments against cartography as found, for instance, in the articles by Klaus Abels, Angel Gallego, and Edwin Williams which are concerned with “the explanatory value of cartography” (Bailyn, 2011, p. 269). For Edwin Williams (2009), for example, the distinction between matrix and subordinate clauses, in relation to ordering rules, cannot be captured by cartography.

Other challenges to Cartography include, for instance, Jonathan D. Bobaljik (1999) on adverb ordering, Jeroen Van Craenenbroeck (2006) on transitivity failures in the left periphery, and Cedric Boeckx (2008) on theoretical shortcomings of cartography.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the volume remains a work of outstanding quality, involving some of the most prominent scholars in the field.


Bailyn, J. Frederick. 2011. Alternatives to cartography (review). Language. Vol. 87, Number 3.

Belleti, A. 2004. Aspects of the low IP area. In L. Rizzi, ed., The structure of CP and IP: The
cartograhy of syntactic structures 2,16-51. New York: Oxford University Press.

Bianchi, V and M. Frascarelli. 2010. Is topic a root phenomenon? Iberia 2(1): 43-88

Bobaljik, Jonathan D. 1999. Adverbs: the hierarchy paradox. Glot International 4. 27-28.

Boeckx, C. 2008. Bare syntax. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Chomsky, N. 2001. Derivation by phase. In Michael Kenstowicz, ed., 1-53. Ken Hale: A life in
Language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Chomsky, N. 2005. Three factors in language design. Linguistic Inquiry 36: 1-22.

Chomsky, N. 2013. Problems of projection. Special Issue: Core ideas and results in syntax.
Lingua 130:33-49.

Costa, João. 2009. A focus-binding conspiracy. Left-to-right merge, scrambling and binary
structure in European Portuguese. In Van Craenenbroeck, ed., alternatives to cartography.
87-108. Berlin:Mouton de Gruyter.

Endo, Y. 2010. The cartography of sentence final particles. In N. Hasegawa, ed., new
developments in syntactic theory and the analysis of Japanese: beyond propositions, 67-94.
Tokio: Kaitakusha.

Grimshaw, J. 1991. Extended projection. Unpublished manuscript. Rutgers.

Haegeman, L. 2004. Topicalization,CLLD and the left periphery. In Benjamin Shaer, Werner
Frey, and Claudia Maienborn, eds., ZAS papers in linguistics 35, 157-92. Berlin: zentrum fur
Allgemeine sprachwissenschaft.

Rizzi, L. 1990. Relativized minimality. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Rizzi, L. 1997. The fine structure of the left periphery. In L. Haegeman, ed., elements of
grammar, 281-338. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer.

Saito, M. 2009. Selection and clause types in Japanese. Presented at the international
conference on sentence types: ten years after (June 26-28, 2009), Goethe Universitat

Shlonsky, U., and G. Soare. 2011. Where's 'why'? Linguistic Inquiry 42:651-69.

Ueda, Y. 2007. Syntactic structure and person restrictions of Japanese modals. In N. Hasegawa,
ed., main clause phenomena in Japanese, 123-50. Tokio: Kaitakusha.

Van Craenenbroeck, J. 2006. Transitivity failures in the left periphery and foot-driven
movement operations. Linguistics in the Netherlands 2006.2-64.

Van Craenenbroeck, J. (Ed.). 2009. Alternatives to cartography (studies in generative grammar
100). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Williams, Edwin. 2009. There is no alternative to cartography. In Van Craenenbroeck, ed.,
alternatives to cartography. 361-374. Berlin:Mouton de Gruyter.

Ferid Chekili has taught Linguistics and Language Acquisition in different colleges in several countries. His primary research interests include syntactic theory and Second Language Acquisition.

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