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Review of  Prolific Domains

Reviewer: Jonathan White
Book Title: Prolific Domains
Book Author: Kleanthes K. Grohmann
Publisher: John Benjamins
Linguistic Field(s): Syntax
Book Announcement: 15.1284

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Date: Thu, 22 Apr 2004 11:25:52 +0200
From: Jonathan White <>
Subject: Prolific Domains: On the Anti-Locality of Movement Dependencies

Grohmann, Kleanthes K. (2003) Prolific Domains: On the Anti-Locality of
Movement Dependencies, John Benjamins, Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics
Today 66.

Jonathan White, Högskolan Dalarna, Sweden

Chapter 1: Locality in grammar The book begins with a discussion of
basic locality phenomena. Two types are recognised, those related to
displacement, i.e. islands; and those related to "rules of construal",
i.e. conditions on coindexation, predication and control. Grohmann
notes that, in Minimalist practise, these two types are collapsed into
one. For instance Kayne (2002) analyses pronoun binding in terms of
movement. Then the opposite phenomenon is considered, anti-locality.
The case of thematic relations is taken up. An important point about
Minimalist practise is that movement between thematic positions is not
ruled out (under GB theory it would have been as a violation of the
theta-criterion). If we allow movement-based derivations of binding and
control (see, for example, Hornstein 1999, 2003), two thematic
positions are related by movement:

(1) [John wants [(John) to leave]]

It is still the case, though, that movement between two thematic
positions assigned by the same predicate are ruled out. (2a), meaning
(2b), is ungrammatical:

(2) a. [John [hit t]] b. John hit himself.

The difference here is that movement takes place within the same
thematic domain. This is what anti-locality is about. Movement can take
place across such domains, which Grohmann calls "prolific domains", but
not within them.

Chapter 2: Rigorous Minimalism and Anti-locality The second chapter
presents the theoretical framework Grohmann adopts. Some differences
from Minimalism as presented in Chomsky (1993, 1995) are that multiple
specifiers are ruled out, and that phrasal adjunction is a base-
generated relation, not one created by movement. Also, right adjunction
is not ruled out per se. Three prolific domains are proposed within
which movement is ruled out if it creates non-distinct copies of the
moved element - this part is crucial to the analyses to follow. The
first domain is the thematic domain (the theta-domain) which consists
of the vP-VP complex. The second is the agreement domain (the phi-
domain), consisting of agreement and tense projections (a further
important difference from Chomsky 1995 is that Grohmann keeps a series
of agreement phrases). Finally, there is the discourse domain (the
omega-domain), which consists of Topic, Focus and Complementizer

Chapter 3: Anti-locality in anaphoric dependencies The first phenomenon
that is treated in terms of prolific domains is anaphora. Grohmann
departs from work like that of Hornstein (2001) in that the anaphor is
not actually present in the numeration, but is inserted during the
derivation. The point is that movement from internal complement to
external argument position within the thematic domain violates anti-
locality. However, the derivation can be saved if the lower copy is
spelled out as an anaphor (thus creating distinct copies of the moved

(3) [John v [likes (John)]] => [John v [likes himself]]

This is shown to work for Exceptional Case-marking contexts as well.

Chapter 4: Copy Spell Out and left dislocation This chapter and the
next one deal with left dislocation constructions. Grohmann recognises
three types with distinct properties. Firstly, there is the hanging
topic construction (HTLD) which is seen in English:

(4) This man, I don't know him.

This is characterised by having a strong intonation break between the
topic and remainder of the sentence and also presents new information.
It is analysed by having the topic base-generated in the specifier of
Topic Phrase, and the resumptive pronoun is also in the numeration.
Anti-locality itself is not an issue here, therefore:

(4') [CP This man [IP I don't [VP know him]]]

The second construction is contrastive left dislocation (CLD), as seen
in German:

(5) Diesen Mann, den kenne ich nicht. This man that know I

CLD is seen as being different to Topicalization, in that no new
information is presented, and there is no clear intonation break (among
other things). This construction is analysed as movement from the
complement position of "know" into the higher discourse domain. The
resumptive pronoun is not part of the numeration. The topic is in CP,
while the resumptive pronoun is in Topic Phrase. This pronoun performs
the same function as the anaphors analysed in the previous chapter, in
that they avoid a violation of anti-locality, but here in the discourse
domain. Consider the derivation of (5) as illustration:

(6) [CP Diesen Mann [TopP (diesen Mann) [...]]]

"Diesen Mann" has moved into the omega-domain (the discourse domain),
but cannot move between Topic Phrase and CP without violating anti-
locality, unless a distinct copy is left behind. The resumptive pronoun
performs this function:

(6') [CP Diesen Mann [TopP den [...]]]

Chapter 5: The Anti-locality of clitic left dislocation The final type
of left dislocation construction is the clitic left dislocation one
(CLLD), as illustrated in Greek:

(7) Afton ton andra, dhen ton ksero. This the man not cl I-

Here anti-locality is argued to occur in the agreement domain (the phi-
domain). The clitic, which is argued to be a DP structurally, is moved
from its theta position to adjoin to the relevant agreement head:

(8) [AgrP [Agr DP] [...]]

This adjunction configuration is not one in which agreement features
can be checked (specifier-head is required). Therefore, movement into
the specifier of the Agreement Phrase is required. This is anti-local
movement unless the clitic head is spelled out.:

(8') [AgrP (DP) [Agr (DP)] [...]] => [AgrP (DP) [Agr CL] [...]]

Then the DP moves on to Topic Phrase.

Chapter 6: Prolific domains in the nominal layer Chapter 6 deals with
an example of anti-local movement in nominals. The relevant
construction is prenominal possessive doubling (PPD) as shown in

(9) der Anna ihr Wagen the(dat) Anna her(nom) car (=Anna's car)

Grohmann argues, as many have, that the structure of nominals is
similar to that of clauses. Specifically three domains are assumed:

(10) [DP [AgrP/PossP [NP]]]

These three levels correspond to the discourse, agreement and thematic
domains of clauses. Anti-local movement in PPD is argued to take place
in the middle domain. The possessor moves from PossP to AgrP before
moving on to DP. This is anti-local, and so the extra possessive ("ihr"
in (9)) is the spell out of the copy in PossP:

(11) [AgrP XP [PossP (XP) [NP ...]]] => [AgrP XP [PossP ihr [NP ...]]]

Chapter 7: Successive cyclicity revisited Successive cyclic movement is
considered in this final major chapter. The examples so far have
related to movement across thematic domains. Successive cyclic
movement, on the other hand, is seen as movement between domains of the
same type. The advantage of this approach is that there is no need to
assume that a moved phrase has to adjoin to intermediate positions. For
instance, long distance wh-movement will take place from CP to CP with
there being no need to land in other domains:

(12) [CP XP ... [CP (XP) [AgrP (XP) [vP ...]]]]

Chapter 8: A note on dynamic syntax The final chapter summarises the
approach. One theoretical point that is taken up is where Spell-Out
takes place. Grohmann argues that it does so after each prolific
domain, mirroring Chomsky's (2000, 2001) recent suggestion that Spell-
Out takes place after each phase.

I have found this book to be an interesting addition to our
understanding of movement processes and syntactic constraints on them.
The unification of locality and anti-locality in terms of domains is
well argued for, and all the areas under consideration have been
presented clearly and concisely. I found the chapter on successive
cyclicity to be particularly interesting. The idea that movement
targets particular domains, and that there is no need for a phrase to
pass through intermediate positions in other domains, is a very
interesting proposal. It would have also been interesting to see how
locality phenomena proper can be handled under these assumptions, such
as tense and negation islands. There is also the question of covert
movement. Many authors have proposed that covert phrasal movement
should be possible (see, for example, Pesetsky 2000). Does this type of
movement conform to similar locality or anti-locality conditions? My
overall impression of the book is, though, a positive one. It is well
argued and raises important questions for theorists about the nature of

Chomsky, Noam (1993) A minimalist program for linguistic theory. In The
view from Building 20. Hale and Keyser (eds.). Cambridge, Mass.: MIT
Press. 1-52.

Chomsky, Noam (1995) Categories and transformations. In The Minimalist
Program. Chomsky (ed.). Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. 219-394.

Chomsky, Noam (2000) Minimalist inquiries: the framework. In Step by
step: Essays in minimalist syntax in honor of Howard Lasnik. Martin,
Micheals and Uriagereka (eds.). Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. 89-155.

Chomsky, Noam (2001) Derivation by phase. ms. MIT.

Hornstein, Norbert (1999) Movement and control. In Linguistic Inquiry
30. 69-96.

Hornstein, Norbert (2001) Move! A Minimalist theory of Construal.
Oxford: Blackwell.

Hornstein, Norbert (2003) On control. In Minimalist Syntax. Hendrick
(ed.). Oxford: Blackwell. 6-81.

Kayne, Richard (2002) Pronouns and their antecedents. In Derivation and
explanation in the Minimalist program. Epstein and Seely (eds.).
Oxford: Blackwell. 133-166.

Pesetsky, David (2000) Phrasal movement and its kin. Cambridge, Mass.:
MIT Press.
Reviewer's research interests: Phrase structure,
syntax and semantics of adverbials, interfaces between syntax and
semantics and between syntax and morphology.