The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Colloquium 4/25 - Richard Kayne

Speaker: Richard Kayne (NYU)
Title: The Silence of Projecting Heads
Date/Time: Friday, Apr 25, 3:30-5p
Location: 32-141

Examination of sentence-final particles, complementizers, up/down-type particles, modal elements like ‘need’, the nominal character of agreement morphemes, aspect, tense, adjectives and adverbs, determiners, adpositions, focus and topic, derivational suffixes and light verbs leads to the conclusion that a preponderance of projecting syntactic heads are silent.

I suggest that we understand this to reflect the simpler fact that all syntactically projecting heads are silent. That simpler fact derives in turn from the fact that, for reasons having to do with the systematic antisymmetry-based association of Merge with temporal order, phonological material cannot be bundled together with a syntactic feature in a single node.

If so, then temporal order must be part of core syntax, as is suggested in any case by cross-linguistic asymmetries concerning backwards pronominalization that feed into interpretation.

The antisymmetry-based prohibition against feature-bundling simultaneouly has as a consequence the decompositionality principle of Kayne (2005).