The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Syntax Square 4/14 - Athulya Aravind

Speaker: Athulya Aravind (MIT)
Title: Minimality and wh-licensing in Malayalam
Time: Tuesday 4/14, 1pm-2pm
Place: 32-D461

This talk discusses long-distance wh-licensing asymmetries in Malayalam, a wh-in-situ language. The licensing of a matrix scope taking, embedded wh-phrase depends on whether or not the clause containing it undergoes movement. I will argue that despite not involving two instances of movement, the configuration of interest is parallel to remnant movement. Since Müller (1996), it has been known that remnant movement is disallowed if the two movement steps are of the same type, an effect that has been argued to fall out from the Minimal Link Condition (e.g. Kitahara 1997). I show that a generalized minimality constraint on Agree can derive both the Malayalam wh-licensing patterns and the restriction on remnant movement. If the proposal is on the right track, the Malayalam data provide crucial evidence for the simple and intuitive generalization that all probe-goal relations, of which movement happens to be a special case, are subject to minimality conditions.