Successive cyclicity, anti-locality, and adposition stranding

Date of Completion

January 2003


Language, Linguistics




This thesis studies movement operations in natural languages. It is observed that certain heads—C°, v°, and, in most languages, P°—cannot be stranded; the complements of these heads never move without pied-piping the heads in question. This is surprising since (a) extraction out of CP, vP, and PP is possible in principle and (b) the complement categories of these heads, TP, VP, and DP or PP, are movable. Evidence for the more contentious of these claims is provided in chapters 3 and 4. Chapter 4 also investigates the ramifications of these facts for theories of adposition stranding. All heads in question have independently been argued to project what Chomsky (2000) calls ‘phases’. The generalization is that phase heads cannot be stranded. ^ Chapter 2 derives the ban against stranding phase heads within a derivational model of the grammar. The effect of phases on successive cyclicity is the following: To be licit, movement out of a phase must pass through the specifier position of that phase. The idea of the account is that every step of movement must establish a relation between the moved item and some other element in the phrase marker which is in a well-defined sense closer than the relation they were in prior to movement. Movement from complement to specifier position within the same phrase never achieves this. In fact, any movement within the same phrase is in effect too short to achieve this. There are then well-defined anti-locality effects, which fallout from considerations of local economy. ^ The ban against stranding phase heads now follows. A category can leave its containing phase only by passing through its specifier position. Since complements cannot reach the specifier position in the same phrase, the complements of phase heads cannot move away. ^ Head Movement is prohibited by the same economy based reasoning. Chapter 5 focuses on Head Movement, advocating a version of Brody's (2000) Mirror Theory. In contrast to standard theories of Head Movement, Mirror Theory predicts what looks like downward Head Movement to be possible. Data from VP-ellipsis in English show that this prediction of Mirror Theory is correct. ^