Investigations of Covert Phrase Movement

J. W. Nissenbaum, 2000

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The status of covert movement in Universal Grammar has been a perennial source of trouble in the study of language.  What kinds of structures does it derive?  To what extent is it similar to overt movement?  What is its place in the overall architecture of the grammar?

In this thesis I present several case studies bearing on these questions, providing new evidence for the existence of covert phrase movement.  These studies contribute to the growing body of evidence that grammatical conditions hold only at interface levels (Chomsky 1993).  Further, I attempt to show that, taken together, the investigations reported here lead to a model of grammar in which the interface representations are computed cyclically, by successive applications of the basic grammatical operations merge, move and spellout on each phase of derivation.

The first studies demonstrate that covert movement licenses parasitic gaps and feeds Condition A, reversing longstanding assumptions.  The apparent counterevidence that has obscured these properties of covert movement, I argue, results from a general constraint on movement (the Tucking-in condition (Richards 1997)) that prevents the formation of the required configurations in the classic experimental paradigms.  In addition, the study on parasitic gaps provides evidence for the Y-model’s sequencing of overt before covert operations.  However, an investigation of adjunct extraposition from NP (a report of joint work with D. Fox) yields evidence for the opposite conclusion: that a covert operation (QR) can be followed by an overt one (late adjunction to the raised NP)

Finally, I show that these conflicting results are resolved by a theory of successive-cyclic computation of structure in which spellout applies repeatedly throughout a derivation.  I argue that the correct characterization of the cyclic model captures Y-model effects such as the failure of covert movement (typically) to license PGs, while allowing ‘anti-Y-model effects’ typified by extraposition.  I propose a condition that limits countercyclic adjunction to the linear edge of already computed structures.  This condition in turn predicts an intricate pattern of further generalizations about extraposition.  The resulting theory thus unifies the overt and covert cycles in a manner consistent with the evidence for covert phrase movement.

Thesis supervisor:         Noam Chomsky, David Pesetsky

Title:                             Institute Professor, Ferrari P. Ward Professor

Table of Contents

Chapter 1         Introduction                                                                                          11

            1          Evidence for a vP-peripheral landing site in successive-cyclic

movement                                                                                             14

            2          ‘Y-model effects’ and ‘anti-Y-model effects’                            16

                        2.1       Covert movement and PGs: a ‘Y-model effect’             16

                        2.2       Support for the picture: covert movement and Condition A        19

                        2.3       Covert movement and extraposition from NP: an ‘anti-Y-

                                    model effect’                                                                            21

            3          Cyclic spellout: covert movement in a single-cycle grammar       22

Part One          On the structure of LF representations                                       28

Chapter 2         What Parasitic Gaps can tell us about the hidden structure of

chains                                                                                                   29

            1          Background: the syntactic properties of parasitic gaps                30

                        1.1       Two kinds of theories                                                               34

                        1.2       Arguments for the Null Operator hypothesis                             38

                        1.3       Right-branching vs. adjunction to vP                                          45

                        1.4       Summary                                                                                  51

            2          Why PGs exist in natural language                                                         52

                        2.1       A proposal: HNPS and vP-adjoined predicate modifiers           55

                                    ·‘Long-distance’ HNPS                                                           59

                        2.2       Generalizing the proposal: successive-cyclic movement

through spec-vP                                                                       64

·Independent support for the vP-step                                       67

            3          The utility of PGs as a diagnostic for invisible structure               71

                        3.1       Larson’s generalization: HNPS past the adjunct makes PGs      

                                    obligatory                                                                                 73

                        3.2       A predicted correlation: PGs and the positions of

intermediate traces                                                                    78

3.2.1    Stacked vP-adjuncts                                                     80

3.2.2    Extraposition from wh                                                   85

3.2.3    Antecedent-contained deletion                          86

            4          Summary of main results                                                                       94

Appendix         Subject PGs                                                                                         96

            1          Parasitic arguments and the semantics of modification                99

            2          Evidence that parasitic subjects always reconstruct                                107

Part Two          Case studies on the computation of LF representations              112

Chapter 3         An apparent ‘Y-model effect’: covert movement and parasitic gaps       113

            1          Deriving Engdahl’s generalization                                                           117

                        1.1       Bulgarian multiple-wh-questions and the Tucking-In

condition                                                                                  118

                        1.2       Tucking in explains why covert movements don’t (normall)

                                    license PGs                                                                               120

            2          Predicting the cases where Engdahl’s generalization fails to hold 122

                        2.1       A Bulgarian word order puzzle, and a simple solution     122

                        2.2       A ‘Bulgarian strategy’ for multiple PGs in English                       123

                        2.3       Properties of PGs that are licensed by covert movement            128

                                    ·A predicted asymmetry with single PGs                                   128

                                    ·Order of the PGs is determined by order of licensing

                                    movements                                                                               128

                                    ·Both PGs must be in the same island                           129

                                    ·Evidence for pied-piping in covert movement               130

            3          Multiple overt extractions in English and multiple PGs                131

                        3.1       HNPS coupled with wh-movement licenses two PGs    131

                        3.2       Pesetsky’s Volvo-sentences                                                     132

            4          QR and parasitic gaps                                                                           136

                        4.1       Tucking in and the scope economy condition                           138

                        4.2       Subjects and stacked vP-adjuncts                                             140

            5          Conclusions                                                                                          141

Appendix         Covert movement and Condition A                                                       143

            1          Why the old paradigm is uninformative: the TIC                         144

            2          A more informative paradigm                                                                145

            3          Covert movement feeds Condition A                                                     145

            4          Further support                                                                         146

                        ·Movement that feeds Condition A is incompatible with idiomatic

                        readings                                                                                                146

                        ·Movement that feeds Condition A forces wide scope for how-

                        many-NP                                                                                             147

                        ·Movement that feeds Condition A forces wide scope in a ‘Baker’

                        sentence                                                                                               148

            5          Summary                                                                                              148

Chapter 4         An apparent ‘anti-Y-model effect’: covert movement and

                        extraposition from NP                                                                           149

            1          Extraposition from NP: a puzzle                                                            151

            2          The proposal – post-QR merger of adjuncts                                          151

            3          Prediction for scope                                                                              154

            4          Complements vs. adjuncts – further predictions                         156

            5          Testing whether the extraposed constituent moves                               158

                        5.1       Definiteness                                                                              158

                        5.2       Condition C                                                                              159

                        5.3       Coordination                                                                            160

                        5.4       Parasitic gaps                                                                           161

            6          Testing whether the source NP undergoes QR                          161

                        6.1       Scope of the source NP                                                            162

                        6.2       QR in co-ordination                                                                  163

            7          Conclusions                                                                                          165

Appendix         covert movement and ‘hidden PGs’: extraposition past elliptical

adjuncts                                                                                                167

Part Three        Resolving the contradiction                                                                    172

Chapter 5         Syntax and the single cycle: on the nature of covert movement and

                        the architecture of grammar                                                                   173

            1          Preliminaries: the cycle                                                              177

                        1.1       Successive-cyclic movement                                                     182

            2          Toward a cyclic theory of spellout                                                         186

                        2.1       Spellout applies to the internal domain                          187

                        2.2       Parameterization: a cross-linguistic typology of wh-fronting        191

                        2.3       ‘Spellout of internal domain’ yields Phase Impenetrability

                                    effects                                                                                      194

            3          Y-model effects and anti-Y-model effects                                             196

                        3.1       No merge during the post-spellout portion of a phase   199

                        3.2       Post-cyclic merge and the Linear Edge Condition                   201

                        3.3       Preliminary evidence: the Linear Edge Condition and

word-formation                                                                        203

                        3.4       Summary                                                                                  206

            4          Further evidence for the Linear Edge Condition                                  207

                        4.1       Only right-most constituents in DP can be extraposed    208

                        4.2       Extraposed adjuncts must appear rightmost in the vP     209

                                    4.2.1    No adjunct extraposition to the left of a HNPS  210

                                                ·Complement extraposition is different              211

                                    4.2.2    No multiple extraposition to the same vP-domain           211

                                                ·Complement clauses allow multiple extraposition         213

                                                ·Multiple adjunct extraposition to different vPs  213

                                    4.2.3    No extraposition to the left of (cyclically merged)

vP adjuncts                                                                   215

                                                ·Complement extraposition to the left of a parasitic

                                                adjunct                                                                         217

                        4.3       Extraposition in wh-movement environments                 218

                                    4.3.1    When Tucking-in is violable                                         220

                        4.4       Summary                                                                                  221

            5          Some possible extensions: on the absence of wh-islands for covert

                        movement                                                                                             223

                        5.1       Raising out of an embedded question: the ‘Baker-

ambiguity’                                                                                 224

                        5.2       How is attraction of a ‘tucked in’ wh-phrase possible    226

                        5.3       Wh-islands reduce to violations of the wh-spellout

parameter                                                                                 228

                        5.4       Predicting a cross-linguistic distribution distribution of

                                    wh-island effects                                                                       229

                        5.5       Path Containment Condition effects                                           232

            6          Summary and conclusions                                                                     234