Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Linguistics, Syntax, Language Acquisition, Comparatives, Tough Constructions, Operator Movement

Major Advisor

Željko Bošković

Associate Advisor

Jonathan David Bobaljik

Associate Advisor

William Snyder

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


This thesis investigates cross-linguistic variation regarding null operator (Op) movement constructions, in particular comparatives and tough constructions, focusing on their syntactic structure and their acquisition by children. Through a cross-linguistic survey, I show that Degree Clausal Comparatives (DCC) and English-type tough constructions are not allowed in languages without articles. I argue that due to lack of the DP layer, such languages cannot form a Complex Null Op (CNO), which I argue is necessary in the derivation of such constructions. In terms of parameter setting in language acquisition, an English-learner, then, would have to switch the value to a more marked value, i.e. from [-CNO] to [+CNO], in order to produce/comprehend DCC and tough constructions. Based on this, this thesis also investigates the acquisition of clausal comparatives and tough constructions.