The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Ling-Lunch 2/28 - Colin Davis (MIT)

Speaker: Colin Davis (MIT Linguistics)
Title: Why extraposition is rightward
Time: Thursday, 2/28, 12:30-1:50pm
Location: 32-D461


In this work in progress, I’ll offer an approach to some word order puzzles about extraposition. Fox & Nissenbaum (1999) proposed that extraposition is derived by covert movement to the right, followed by late merge (Lebeaux 1999, a.o.) to that covert rightward position. Even if we accept that string-vacuous movement can in some sense have linear direction, this account does not straightforwardly apply to extraposition from phrases that undergo overt leftward movement. One of my central concerns will be this issue. I’ll argue that we can derive the possibility of extraposition from overtly moved phrases as well as covertly moved ones, without stipulating a linear direction to covert movement, through the interaction of the following concepts. #1: Spellout linearizes entire phases at once, and must not generate ordering contradictions (Fox & Pesetsky 2005, a.o.). #2: Late merge can only apply to the linear edge of a phase (NIssenbaum 2000). #3. Late merge can apply even to embedded phases (Fox 2017). Removing the hypothesis that covert movement is ordered provides insight into why extraposition fails when its source DP is deleted by ellipsis (Takahashi & Ohtaka 2017). This account leads to difficulty in deriving William’s Generalization (=the height of an extraposed phrase determines the scope of its “source”), without a more constrained notion of how extraposition is ordered, which I won’t have time to tackle here.