The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Syntax Square 3/6 - Colin Davis (MIT)

Speaker: Colin Davis
Title: Parasitic Gaps and the Structures of Multiple Movement
Date and time: Tuesday March 6, 1-2pm
Location: 32-D461

In this talk, I present some work in progress about the structure of derivations where multiple A’-movement chains overlap. These derivations show interesting complexities that do not (and could not) arise in derivations with only one A’-movement (Pesetsky 1982, Richards 1997). Towards deepening our understanding of this issue, I use Nissenbaum’s (2000) findings about parasitic gap licensing as a diagnostic for the multiple specifier structures created by successive-cyclic movement through vP in these derivations.

This test reveals a puzzle: While Richard’s (1997) theory of specifier formation predicts tucking-in structures at vP in these scenarios, I show via parasitic gap licensing that (at least sometimes) tucking-in fails to occur. Observations about parasitic gaps in superiority violating D-linking from Nissenbaum provide another instance of the same puzzle. It seems to be the case that the structure at vP, tucked-in or not, reflects the final order of the moved phrases. This is exactly what we predict under the hypothesis of Order Preservation (Fox & Pesetsky 2005). However, it remains mysterious how derivations can ‘know’ what vP configurations to form based on what the final result of the derivation will be. I do not have a good solution, but I hope discussing these puzzles will help.