The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Ling-Lunch 9/7 - Colin Davis (MIT)

Speaker: Colin Davis (MIT)
Title: Intermediate Stranding, Constraints on Movement, and Cyclic Linearization
Date and time: Thursday, September 7, 12:30-1:50pm
Location: 32-D461

I argue that certain rarely considered facts about stranding point us towards a particular understanding of some general issues in syntactic theory, namely: The theory of phasal domains/spellout, and the nature of movement operations. In particular, using data from English, West Ulster English, Afrikaans, Polish, and Russian, I examine scenarios where material is pied-piped with one step of movement and stranded with a subsequent step, stranding that material at an intermediate position in the clause. I show that this phenomenon of intermediate stranding is subject to the following descriptive generalization:

(1). Intermediate stranding is only possible when the stranded material is, or can be, linearly to the right of the material that continues to move leftward.

I argue that the Cyclic Linearization theory of phase spellout (Fox & Pesetsky 2005, Ko 2014) and a theory of movement as driven by Probe-Goal Agree (Chomsky 1995, Ko 2014, van Urk 2015), and thus constrained by c-command, precisely predicts exactly this generalization, while the commonly held theory of phases, and a view of movement as free and untriggered, cannot. These results also point us to a new perspective on what constrains movement out of moved elements.