The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

LingLunch 04/21 — Sigwan Thivierge (Concordia University)

Speaker: Sigwan Thivierge (Concordia University)

Title: Phases as phi-intervention

Time: Thursday 04/21 12:30-2pm

Location: https://mit.zoom.us/j/96062313339 (gathering in 32 D-461)

This talk focuses on the notion of phases in syntactic theory, and offers a reanalysis of certain phases as instances of (phi-)intervention. Under the standard view, phases are syntactic structures that are opaque to operations originating outside of the phase. I will argue that certain instances of phasehood derive from the ‘phase’ head bearing a phi-probe: the phi-features on the probe intervene for agreement, which results in phase-like effects. In this way, phases are reducible to a more general locality issue. The empirical data in favour of this claim comes from the Georgian agreement system. I show that subjects in Georgian are base-generated in different positions, depending on whether they fall under the basic agreement paradigm or the inverse agreement paradigm. In the basic, subjects are introduced above the ‘phase’ head and are the closest goal for Agree operations that originate outside the phase domain. In the inverse, subjects are introduced below the ‘phase’ head; in this case, the phi-features that are associated with the phi-probe on the phase head constitute the closest goal for Agree. These results suggest that phasehood is an epiphenomenon, and that the interior of the ‘phase’ is accessible even after the phase is complete.