The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Syntax Square 2/6 - Danfeng Wu (MIT)

Speaker: Danfeng Wu (MIT)
Title: A copy-based analysis of either in either…or… constructions
Date and time: Tuesday February 6, 1-2pm
Location: 32-D461

While it has been observed since Larson (1985) that either can occur in many different positions in either…or… constructions, no proposal successfully accounts for its various surface positions and restrictions on its distribution. In this talk I argue that the dual identity of either as both a disjunction marker and focus-sensitive operator requires it to c-command both the disjunction phrase and the focused elements. And I argue that it achieves this goal by origination in a c-commanding position relative to the focused constituent, followed by upward movement to c-command disjunction, and that the occurrences of either in different positions are copies in the same movement chain. Not only does this analysis successfully account for the distribution of either with respect to islands, but it also makes a few predictions. For instance, because these eithers are identical copies in a movement chain, when an independent restriction bans one of them, other copies can still surface to save the sentence.