The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Syntax Square 5/1 - Tanya Bondarenko & Colin Davis (MIT)

Speaker: Tanya Bondarenko & Colin Davis (MIT)
Title: Parasitic gaps, covert pied-piping, and left branch extraction in Russian [FASL practice]
Date and time: Tuesday, May 1st, 1-2pm
Location: 32-D461

A well-known trait of Slavic languages is left branch extraction (LBE), the A’-movement of elements out of the left edge of the nominal phrase. While much of Slavic allows LBE, languages like English do not, requiring pied-piping of the entire nominal phrase instead.  This difference presents a puzzle for syntactic theory, which we argue is clarified by the behavior of parasitic gaps (PGs; Engdahl 1983, Nissenbaum 2000) in Russian (Ivlieva 2007). We argue that patterns of PG licensing in LBE derivations teach us that LBE involves covert pied-piping of the containing NP, rather than true extraction out of NP.  This result unites the syntax of Russian with non-LBE languages, indicating that both are subject to something like Ross’ (1967/1986) Left Branch Condition (LBC). Consequently, LBE in Russian must be (at least in the cases under discussion) derived by a PF operation like scattered deletion (Fanselow & Ćavar 2005, Bošković 2015). This finding suggests that the difference between languages that allow so-called LBE, and those that do not, is the availability of this operation at the PF interface in the first group.