The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Syntax Square 4/23 - Gary Thoms

Speaker: Gary Thoms
Title: Remnant movement and discontinuous deletion
Date/Time: Tuesday, Apr 23, 1-2p
Location: 32-D461

In this paper I propose that chains are subject to a constraint that bans discontinuous deletion of copies. Initial motivation for this constraint comes from consideration of the properties of regular cyclic movement chains (considering data from Boskovic 2002), but then the rest of the paper is devoted to showing that this constraint is active in constraining remnant movement. Remnant movement is in principle possible, but only if it derives a representation which does not require discontinuous chain reduction. Evidence for this comes from two main sources: (i) a pervasive left-right asymmetry in possible RM derivations; (ii) variation in the availability of “true” VP-fronting. The former is supported by an analysis of the availability of “headless fronting” and extraposition-fed leftward movement, all of which fails to follow from existing theories of RM. The latter is supported by consideration of when fronted VPs behave like moved categories, with novel data showing that the ban on reconstruction into fronted VPs (Barss’ generalization) is lifted when the relevant representation does not fall foul of the discontinuous deletion constraint. I describe a few ways in which languages get around the RM problem presented by VP-fronting (“matching”” analyses, spelling out traces and not leaving traces) and indicate that this may in fact derive us a plausible typology of its language-internal and cross-linguistic distribution. I conclude by considering what kind of theory of movement and deletion this kind of constraint requires.