Review of The Minimalist Parameter. Selected papers from the Open Linguistics Forum, Ottawa, 21-23 March 1997
|Alexandrova, Galina M., and Olga Arnaudova, ed. (2001) The Minimalist
Parameter: Selected Papers from the Open Linguistics Forum, Ottawa,
21-23 March 1997. John Benjamins Publishing Company, hardback ISBN
1-55619-970-8, viii+360pp, $87.00, Current Issues in Linguistic Theory
Sharbani Banerji, Centre for Applied Linguistics and Translation
Studies, University Of Hyderabad, India.
DESCRIPTION OF THE BOOK
This volume is a collection of twenty papers, addressing a range of
issues of the Minimalist Program, particularly of Chomsky (1995). The
articles, as the editors point out, have been derived from papers read
at the "Challenges of Minimalism" session of the Open Linguistic Forum
(OLF), held in Ottawa, 21-23 March 1997.
Each paper in this book addresses some issue or other, which needs to
be reviewed or updated under the 'Minimalist Program', or brings forth
issues which have perhaps been overlooked in the past, and now are
being treated under 'Minimalism'. Some of the papers work elaborately
to point out the advantages of working in the framework of Chomsky
(1995) as against Chomsky (1981), or even Chomsky (1992). Kayne's
(1994) work is a part of this program, and hence a paper devoted to
this framework is included. The book, being technical in nature, will
be best appreciated by students, researchers and professionals working
in the Minimalist Program. Those working in different frameworks, may
use it for comparative purposes.
The book is broadly divided into five sections. Each section represents
the area covered by the papers of that section. Section I (Syntactic
Structure, Relations, Operations) consists of six papers, Section II
(Syntactic Movement: Cyclicity, Optionality, (Non) overtness) five
papers, Section III (Case, Topic, Focus, Interrogativity) also five
papers, Section IV (Ellipsis, Reconstruction and Related Phenomena) two
papers and Section V (DPs: Features and Syntactic Relations) also two
papers. The references pertaining each of the papers is given at the
end of each paper.
What follows is a brief description of each of the twenty papers, to
indicate what their aims and objectives are, and what they finally
show. Some of the papers are followed by a brief evaluative comment. A
short critical evaluation of the volume as a whole is given at the end
of the review.
SECTION I: Syntactic Structure, Relations, Operations
1) Integral Minimalism, by Denis Bouchard
Given the central role of Principles and Parameters in current
theorizing, it is it is important to ascertain what is an optimal
principle and an optimal parameter on general grounds. The situation
should be such that i) some element is required by conceptual
necessity, is expected to be part of the human faculty, and ii) there
is more than one way to satisfy this requirement, given bare output
conditions imposed from outside. The author refers to this restrictive
approach as 'Integral Minimalism'.
Basic assumptions of Integral Minimalism:
i) The only structural primitives are lexical items and an associative
function Merge that combines them.
ii) It follows from the underspecification of the operation Merge that
the merger of a and b is licensed by selectional properties: if the
complex expression resulting from combining a and b cannot be
interpreted by the rules of the language, the result is gibberish
(i.e., human languages combine meaningful elements into larger ones).
Typically, one of a or b is a functor category which the other one
saturates or modifies by assigning a property to it.
iii) Since the only primitives available are those taken from the
lexicon, the result of merging a and b is labelled 'a' or 'b', not some
additional label (labels like 'N', 'A', 'P' are used only for
convenience; they have no status in the theory and are just
iv) The functor category is the one that projects; the idea is that,
even though a category X is slightly changed, since it is saturated or
modified by it's sister category, it remains essentially X.
Thus, very minimal differences account for functional covariation
between phrasal-structural languages, morphologically marking
languages, and sign languages. This also accounts for variation among
phrasal languages like French and English.
2) A Minimalist Account of Phrase Structure Acquisition, by Susan
This paper compares two accounts of the phenomenon of gradual phrase
structure acquisition developed in the Government and Binding (GB)
framework with one based on the Minimalist Program. The minimalist
account of phrase structure acquisition is argued to be more viable
for reasons of economy and empirical coverage.
The GB acquisition accounts are versions of the No Functional
Projections Hypothesis, which maintains that only phrase markers of the
lexical heads (N, V, A, P) are part of the child's initial phrase
marker system. The UG-given X-bar component generates phrase structure.
While the child's phrase marker system is a subset of the adult, it is
not minimal enough. Even lexical projections contain more phrase
structure positions than are necessary to accommodate the earliest
An acquisition account, where (in view of minimalist assumptions) the
single operation of Merge builds phrase structure, captures the
acquisition sequence much more accurately. The first stage in
development is a lexical stage, in which syntactic categories are
identified. At the subsequent stage, the syntactic objects from the
first stage are merged into simple binary trees. As soon as the child
treats these phrase markers as objects, these are merged into more
The proposed approach to phrase structure acquisition is superior to
the GB tree-building accounts, as there are no extraneous positions in
the phrase marker. Moreover, structure-building via Merge can elegantly
capture the graduality observed in development. Under this minimalist
account, the phrase marker gradually expands due to successive
applications of Merge. In this way, the stages in the acquisition
sequence reflect intermediate steps in the derivation.
The arguments strike me as convincing.
3) A Theory of Grammatical Functions in the Minimalist Program, by
In this paper the author attempts to explore a theory of Grammatical
Functions (GF) under the framework of the Minimalist Program outlined
in Chomsky (1995). The main purpose of the paper is to demonstrate that
the theory of multiple F(eature) -checking gives a natural explanation
of a wide range of data found in a variety of languages in a very
consistent way, with a limited set of parameters. The main idea is that
each GF results from a particular checking relation. More specifically
control results from a phi -checking relation with T and binding of
a subject-oriented reflexive from an EPP checking relation with T.
Since there are many other kinds of GFs in natural language, it is
necessary to investigate how the various kinds of checking relation
determine the type of GF.
In the GB theory, grammatical relations (GRs) were regarded not as
absolute but as a derivative (cf. Chomsky 1981 and Marantz 1984),
following Chomsky's 1965 idea that they should be structurally
derived/defined, and the widely held assumption was that an argument
with a particular GR assumes particular functions in syntactic
>From the view point of Chomsky's (1994, 1995) Minimalism, the
structural determination of GRs and GFs is conceptually problematic,
because no structural relations can be defined in a uniform and
absolute fashion any longer owing to the abandonment of the
'conventional' X-bar theory in view of its lack of conceptual
necessity. Thus the conceptual basis of the definition of GRs and GFs
is lost and the question arises as to how these relations and functions
can be defined in the Chomskian Minimalist theory.
Proposal: Each type of GF is determined by a particular checking
1) The ability to control a missing argument in a subordinate adjunct
clause results from a phi -checking relation with T-which means
that the ability to induce subject agreement should be linked to a
phi -checking relation with V.
2) The ability to bind a (purely) subject-oriented reflexive, which has
been linked to the GR subject, results from an EPP-relation with T.
To give a Minimalist explanation to GF-splitting, the author relies
crucially on the system of 'multiple feature checking', an extension of
Chomksy's (1995) F-checking theory.
The case studies undertaken are:
i) Japanese Dative subject constructions
ii) Imbabura Quechua Passive
iii) Active/Inverse voice alternation in Navajo
A lucid paper, which I enjoyed reading.
4) Checking on 'Checking', by Sharon Armon-Lotem
This paper proposes that Checking is a unified process applying only
after Spell-Out. This challenges the assumption that 'strong' features
should be checked prior to Spell-Out, whereas other features are
checked only after Spell-Out(Chomsky 1995). To make this proposal
feasible, a way to compute the 'strength' of functional heads at PF is
offered. A clear distinction is drawn between lexical and functional
categories (Grimshaw 1991), suggesting that lexical categories are
fully specified for all their features, whereas functional categories
are endowed with unspecified features. By a computing mechanism (value
sharing), the head features of the functional head are specified: an
extended head shares the values of the features of the lexical head
after a lexical phrase marker and a functional one are merged into an
The maximal set of features that can be associated with some functional
head in some particular language is compared with the set of features
which are shared with the lexical head in that particular derivation.
When the two sets are equal, the head manifests properties of a strong
head, but when there is a mismatch between them, the head manifests
properties of a weak head. The identification of matching feature sets,
i.e., of 'strong' heads, is attributed to the PF component, where a
fully specified functional head needs to be associated with a lexical
Assigning overt movement to PF limits checking to LF. Various
implications for lexical learning and language acquisition are
discussed in this paper.
5) Kayne 1994: p. 143, fn. 3, by John Whitman
In the footnote that provided the title of this article, Kayne
recommends investigating the possibility that the Nominative marker
'ga' and topic marker 'wa' and possibly the accusative marker 'o' in
Japanese head projections taking complements to their right. This paper
is devoted to an exploration of the hypothesis that these and certain
other phrase particles head projections with complements to their
Kayne (1994) argues effectively against the existence of syntactic
projections whose complements intervene between Head and Spec, a
configuration that has long been assumed across categories for
languages like Korean and Japanese.
The discussion to follow investigates an approach to constituent order
in head-final languages such as Japanese and Korean. This approach
provides an explanation for the failure of Nominative subject
constructions in Japanese to undergo scrambling or clefting. It leads
to the conclusion that multiple Nom subject constructions in Japanese
are recursively headed structures. The final section of the paper
explores the relationship between movement and head position, and
suggests a possible direction for a theory of word order based on
'shallow' constituent relations such as adjacency, rather than
structural relations such as c-command.
The core of the analysis has been the idea that a class of phonological
dependents which have long been understood to function as markers of
clause type (or in the case of the genitive, phrase type), are actually
phrasal heads. This analysis leads to a rethinking of the syntax of the
multiple Spec constructions characteristic of Korean and Japanese, and
suggests an explanation for restriction on Scrambling, Clefting and
6) On the Role of Interpretability, by Masanori Nakamura
There are two major (obviously related) ways in which the notion of
'interpretability' plays a role in the current version of Minimalism.
First, it is important in the principle of Full interpretation (FI)
(Chomsky 1986), which requires that LF representations consist only of
'legitimate' (i.e., interpretable) objects. Second, as argued by
Chomsky 1995, it plays a crucial role in F(eature) checking operations,
in which [-Int(erpretable)] features are effectively eliminated (in
order to obtain well formed LF representations), whereas
[+Int(erpretable)] features can be accessed more than once. To examine
whether the notion proves essential in other domains as well, the
present paper focuses on 'it-type' CP expletives which, lacking
semantic content, are of interest from the viewpoint of FI. An analysis
of 'it-type' expletives is put forth, where they are 'replaced' by
their associates in covert syntax. It is shown to solve two puzzles
regarding the interactions between CP expletives and wh-movement, one
from Bahasa Indonesia/Malaysia, and the other from German. It also
leads to the claim that the concept of Interpretability plays an
important role in the theory of economy. More specifically, it is
suggested that the concept enters into the determination of the
'reference set' and, possibly, the application of economy conditions.
To the extent the analysis is correct, the notion of Interpretability
is even more significant than is recognized in Chomsky (1995).
Section II: Syntactic Movement: Cyclicity, Optionality, (Non) Overtness
1) Head-to-Spec Movement, by Takashi Toyoshima
Since Emonds' (1970) proposal, substitution movement is taken generally
to be structure preserving. This Structure-Preservation Hypothesis
(SPH) has been supplemented by generalizing an X'-format to functional
categories, and it is further extended to adjunction movement (Chomsky
1986). In the Minimalist Program of Chomsky (1992, 1994, 1995), theory-
internal constructs such as D-structure and S-structure are abandoned
and the generative procedure itself is conceived of as phrase structure
building processes. Thus, there is no structure to preserve. Yet, the
assumption that all movements are structure preserving has persisted
into the Minimalist Program, even after its abandonment of the X'-
Schema entirely (Chomsky 1994). In particular, it is scarcely observed
for head-to-head adjunction, although all the other movements are not
structure preserving anymore, even from the traditional perspective.
In this paper it is argued that all movements are to a Specifier
position, in particular, that there should be no head-to-head
adjunction, but rather, head movement is to a specifier position. This
Head-to-Spec movement eliminates various problems associated with head-
to-head adjunction and also dispenses with various stipulations which
head-to-head adjunction would necessitate. The segment/category
distinction is eliminated, and 'contiguity' of the checking domain is
2) Polish Optional Movement, by Adam Szczegielniak
In this paper, the author studies the nature of Optional Movement(OM)
in Polish. In simple transitive clauses, Polish exhibits free word
order: Six word orders are allowed (SVO, SOV, OSV, OVS, VSO, VOS), all
of which can be produced with the same non-Topic/Focus stress pattern.
(It is assumed that Topic/Focus manifests itself by having a special
stress pattern. Some of the variations are more natural with special
Topic/Focus stress). Polish has an SVO basic order. Also, the fact that
it is a prepositional language indicates that it is head-initial.
It is argued that Polish Optional movement(POM) is not an instance of
one single operation termed 'scrambling', but instead is a combination
of F(eature) and non-F(eature)-checking movement. The latter
obligatorily reconstructs to the last F-checking position, and, with
the exception of WCO effects, behaves like movement to a non-L-related
position. It is also shown that the distinction between broadly and
narrowly L-related positions can be abandoned for POM. The claim is
that POM is purely EPP driven and, although, it can result in features
being checked, it does not have to. Thus, unlike in Japanese and German
OM, Polish has no semantically interpretable scrambling feature. This
is supported by a contrastive analysis of OM semantics and
economy of movement properties. Finally, it is proposed that it is
possible to incorporate overt non-F-checking movement into the
Minimalist framework, provided functional heads can be parametrized not
only for violations of Procrastinate (as in Ura 1996), but also for
last resort. This is achieved by postulating that the interaction of
+/-interpretable features on heads with [EPP] is subject to parametric
variation. The claim being that in POM [EPP] is completely dissociated
from formal/semantic features.
An interesting paper, especially for those working on scrambling
3) Attract AND Covert Merge: Predicting Interrogative Variation, by
In this paper the author develops a minimalist account of the
parametric variation between wh-questions (wh-qs) in French and
English. Much work in the GB tradition was dedicated to the explanation
of the parametric variation found in wh-constructions. Rizzi's (1991)
approach to questions in English and French invoking the wh-criterion,
was widely adopted and adapted to explain the behaviour of questions in
other languages, since it succeeded in dealing with a considerable
amount of variation.
The move to a minimalist model of syntax (Chomsky1995) raises several
problems for an updating of this kind of approach. Rizzi's model has
two characteristics which are incompatible with the most recent view of
Minimalist principles. The first is that his version of the Wh-
criterion is two pronged, necessitating that wh-features on both a
WhP(hrase) and a functional head have independent checking
requirements. The second, which relates to the first, is the use of
Dynamic Agreement to explain non-inverted questions in French; this
requires the XP to move without attraction by a head.
In this paper the author develops a Minimalist account of the
parametric variation between wh-qs in French and English, which
dispenses with Dynamic agreement and invokes only a single pronged wh-
criterion, based on an approach to movement which relies solely on
Interrogatives vary cross-linguistically along the following three
axes. WhPs in French and English vary across the first two.
i) overt vs. (covert movement) of WhPs.
ii) Inversion vs. non-inversion of verb and subject
iii) Movement of one WhP vs. all WhPs.
In Plunkett (1996) it was proposed that an essential difference between
French and English was the presence in French, but not in English, of
root complementisers. In circumstances where root [+wh] Comps are not
available (English) or not selected in the numeration (French), the
author assumes with Rizzi1991 that wh-features are associated with an
inflectional head (in the root case call it T) and that the presence of
the Wh-features on T rather than on C is what is responsible for
'inversion'. If clauses can be of different types (e.g., Small Clauses,
AgrsP, TPs or CPs), it is natural to expect Wh-features to appear on
the 'head' of any clause in the scope of which a WhP is to be
interpreted. Thus, since clauses are not always CPs, wh-features
shouldnot be exclusively associated with C. Assuming this modification,
it is predicted that where root complementisers are projected, [wh]
will appear on C, otherwise they will appear on an inflectional head in
the matrix. In this case, if the subject fills the specifier position
of the clausal head, the head will need to raise to check its wh-
features, except if the subject itself is [+wh].
The proposals here centre on two new ideas which are compatible with
Minimalism -- Covert Merge and the creation of proxy projections for
multiple feature checking. Unmoved WhPs in wh-movement languages are
attributed to the possibility of merging non-overt heads after Spell
out. Uninverted questions in French are treated as involving a [+wh]
Comp. Inversion structures involve proxy projections. Proxy structures
arise from the adjunction of a head to its own projection allowing the
otherwise impossible projection-internal checking of more than one
strong feature. Variation in interrogative structures across French and
English is treated as being due to one essential difference, the
availability of root complementisers.
A rather heavy paper theoretically.
4) Covert F(eature)-Movement and the Placement of Arguments, by Artemis
Alexiadou and Elena Anagnostopoulou
In this paper the authors investigate the syntactic conditions on the
placement of postverbal subjects in transitive and intransitive
constructions in representatives of Germanic and Romance, and argue
that there is a constraint against leaving multiple arguments VP-
internally. They attribute this constraint to a ban against multiple
covert F(eature) -movement to a single head containing more than one
unchecked feature of the same type.
The syntactic conditions on the placement of postverbal subjects in
Germanic and Romance (Italian/Catalan) provide evidence for the
following two generalizations:
a) Postverbal subjects are severely restricted in transitive
constructions but not in intransitive ones.
b) There is a cross-linguistic variation in the availability of
subject-inverted orders in transitive constructions but a certain
degree of uniformity in intransitive constructions.
They show that if a language permits subject movement to T and/or
O(bject)-shift, VP internal subjects will be possible in the presence
of an object (e.g., Icelandic; Catalan). Otherwise the language will
show an intransitivity constraint on subject-inverted orders (English,
Transitive Expletive Constructions(TECs) are one environment where
postverbal subjects occur. TECs are possible in Icelandic, German and
Dutch and impossible in English and mainland Scandinavian.
In Icelandic it is found that TECs occur with VP-external subjects and
VP external/internal objects. In English, it is a well known
observation that TECs are impossible, i.e., subject inverted orders are
allowed only with certain classes of intransitive verbs (both
unergatives and unaccusatives). Postverbal subjects are found in
subject-inverted orders in Romance. Specifically, VSO orders are
impossible in Italian and Catalan, both of which permit only VOS with
VP-internal subjects and scrambled objects. Similarly in Catalan.
A number of people have provided strong evidence that VOS orders
involve leftward movement of the object over the subject. The facts
show that, in the languages under discussion, it is never the case that
both DP arguments can remain VP-internally. Two proposals are
A) One could assume that a (PF/LF) filter banning multiple VP-internal
arguments is at work here.
B) There is a constraint against multiple covert case driven movement.
A) cannot hold because PPs can remain VP-internally, and in double
object constructions, the Theme argument remains VP-internal in the
presence of a VP-internal subject. Thus, option B is chosen:
That is, there is a constraint against covert movement of both SUBJECT
and OBJECT. The authors distinguish between D-feature of I, which is
identified as the EPP feature, and the N-feature of I, which is
identified as the Case feature. Thus in TECs, the expletive checks the
D-feature (EPP) and the subject the N-feature (Case). Ambiguity arises
only when there are multiple N (=case) features. Thus it seems to be
the case that Attract is sensitive to the category of features
attracted and not to the specific value of the features, i.e.,
Nominative vs. Accusative etc.
5) On Covert Movement and LF, by Andrew Simpson
In this paper, the author questions the necessity of LF as a
syntactically distinct, derivational level, in the current Minimalist
model of syntax. Hence, to present his arguments, he first reviews the
earlier theories on LF, presenting the motivations for LF in those
models, starting from GB to the present day Minimalism (Chomsky 1995).
Specifically, he discusses the changing conception of covert movement
and LF in the GB model, in Chomsky (1993) and in Chomsky 1995. Many
empirical arguments put forward in the GB period as justification for
assuming the existence of an abstract but syntactic level of LF can no
longer be considered valid support for the continued existence of LF
within MP due to a number of conceptual changes proposed in the latter.
With the process of change, he argues that the earlier strong
empirically based arguments for assuming a syntactic distinct level of
LF have lost their validity. If the principle motivation for LF in the
Minimalist program (MP) is only an assumption of 'uniformity' in
licensing certain types of elements which cross-linguistically are
taken to require licensing in a universal way, then, 'the uniformity
hypothesis' itself can be questioned, and possibly disproved. The
author draws his conclusions based on a paradigm of wh- and Neg(ation)
related data. The data is taken from Iraqi Arabic, Hindi and Japanese.
The same data is analysed in the GB model, in Chomsky (1993) and
Chomsky (1995) models respectively, and he shows how such an analysis
would be untenable. He then shows how the data previously accounted for
via covert movement may be handled in a model WITHOUT any level of LF.
He shows how the licensing of elements with weak features might be
treated in such a model without a level of LF.
It is proposed that a natural and positive progression consequently
open to the MP is therefore to dispense with the notion of LF as a
discrete syntactic level formed by applications of Move and to assume
that Spell-Out is instead the endpoint of dynamic syntax. Finally, it
is considered how such a goal may be achieved while retaining an
account of cross-linguistic variation previously captured in more
standard models employing LF movement.
The paper is a theoretically enlightening paper, though more empirical
support is needed for justification.
Section III: Case, Topic, Focus, Interrogativity
1) The Case Filter Meets the Minimalist Program: Evidence for Strong
[Case], by Julie Anne Legate and Carolyn Smallwood
This paper challenges the minimalist position explicit in Chomsky
(1995), namely, that the EPP reduces to the D-feature of T. It is
argued that the feature [D] is insufficient to account for the range of
cross-linguistic variation found among human languages. The authors
examine English expletive constructions, Icelandic transitive expletive
constructions (TECs), and Irish subjectless clauses, and demonstrate
that there is considerable variation in the realization of EPP in these
languages. Subsequently, they reject Chomsky's multiple checking
account of Icelandic Transitive Expletives as theoretically undesirable
and empirically inadequate.
As an alternative to Chomsky's proposal, it is claimed that two
features, [D] and [case] are available to motivate subject movement in
Icelandic. They demonstrate that [case] is an attracting feature in at
least two languages, Irish and Icelandic. Hence they argue that
minimalist theory requires the dissociation of morphological and
structural case, and that Icelandic Transitive Expletive Constructions
require neither an unforced violation of Procrastinate, nor distinction
between deletion and erasure. They conclude that if the notion of
'strong' feature is to be preserved, Minimalism must allow both non-
categorial attracting features and Case-features which play an active
role in the computational component oF(some) human language. They claim
that EPP is not uniformly realized across all languages, but varies
according to which feature (s) may be strong.
A paper which should motivate similar studies in other languages.
2) Null Subjects in Hungarian DPs AND Inflected Infinitivals, by Anikó
Hungarian possessive constructions and inflected infinitivals allow a
pro subject with no apparent Case- checker. Splitting Case-checking
between specifier and head on the one hand, and via an Agr projection
on the other, it is argued that pro is a full pronominal. If the
lexical head cannot check its Case feature, pro will behave like an
element with a Case value [null] visible for LF processes, but not
interpretable at PF. The Numeration may also include an Agr; it will
check the [nominative] specification of the pronoun, rendering it
visible at PF as well. The Case-checking mechanism evades optionality
in derivation-different strings are derived from different outputs.
3) That-t Effects in English and Yiddish, by Kerstin Hoge
The paper presents an attempt at reanalysing that-t(race) effect in
accordance with minimalist principles. It is argued that that-t effect
results from a violation of the Access Constraint which requires
checking of a [+Int] feature to occur at either two adjacent functional
heads or at two heads of the same category.
Extraction out of finite clauses in English shows a clear subj(ect) -
obj(ect) asymmetry which is commonly termed 'that-t effect'. While a
subject cannot be extracted across an overt complementiser, object
extraction is grammatical, irrespective of whether there is an overt
complementiser or not.
The that-t effect, originally accounted for by Chomsky & Lasnik's that-
t filter (1977: 451, (65) ), is standardly explained as an ECP
Notwithstanding the various developments of ECP in the literature, two
ideas have remained central in the analysis of that-t effect:
i) that-t effect results from the failure of government;
ii) lexical C is non-transparent, whereas a non-lexical C can be
coindexed with an intermediate trace in Spec CP.
This raises the Question: How can that-t effect be accounted for in the
minimalist framework, which has abandoned government as a basic
syntactic notion? One might explore the idea that since ECP violations
are not a uniform phenomenon, that-t effect is "due to something else
entirely" (Culicover 1997: 261). Hence the proposal is: 'That-t effect
results from a violation of the Access Constraint -- i.e., Multiple
access of +Int features must occur in a head-head relation'.
Where F is [+int] and X and Y are not of the same category, if F is
accessed by X and Y, Xmax and Y must be sisters.
On the assumption that the wh-feature is a variant of [D], this
approach singles out subjects, since subject but not object wh-phrases
must check their categorial feature against I(nfl). The Access
Constraint is further shown to give an account of the adverb effect,
provided that embedded topicalisation in English involves CP-recursion.
Yiddish not only exhibits the that-t effect, but also bans object
extraction in the absence of an overt complementiser. The fact that wh-
movement out of complementiser-less clauses must proceed through the
lower Spec CP position is attributed to Shortest Move. Finally, the
fact that subject extraction across an overt complementiser is possible
in non-subject-initial clauses is linked to the phenomenon of null
subjects. Embedded topicalisation in Yiddish is argued to constitute
IP-adjunction with Spec IP being occupied by a null expletive.
4) Evidence for Focus Features, by Virginia Motapanyane
The empirical evidence presented in this paper points to a correlation
between fronting to Focus and properties of T in Romanian. That is,
fronting to Focus is allowed only when the D-feature of T is checked in
TP. This observation matches the existing arguments in the literature
for a correlation between [wh] and [Focus]. The ensuing hypothesis is
that [focus] occurs in Syntax only in conjunction with some label
feature, such as [tense] and [wh], which are semantically related.
Association between [focus] and [wh]/[tense] takes place in the
lexicon, so that complex [focus+wh] or [focus+tense] features enter the
Numeration and merge in C and T respectively. Hence a typology of
fronting to Focus follows, contrasting English with fronting to Focus
through clefts or topicalization, and Romanian, with fronting to Focus
to Spec TP. This typology extends of interrogative clauses, since wh-
mov(ement) implies movement to a Focus position. Important cross
linguistic variation in these structures follow naturally from the
treatment of fronting to Focus as a checking operation against the
functional heads specified for [focus+wh] or [focus+tense].
Romanian data shows that fronting to focus places the constituent
between the subject and the inflected verb, in both declarative and
interrogative clauses. Any constituent may front to this preverbal
position and receive the specific focal stress. Nominal phrases
contrast w. r. t. the type of chains they head from pre-verbal focus --
a definite DP participates in clitic pronoun chains whereas indefinites
and QPs form operator variable chains. The same strategy for fronting
to Focus appears in complement clauses. In sum, Romanian fronting to
focus targets a TP position, triggers alternate chain types, and cannot
overlap with wh-move. This contrasts with English, where, fronting to
focus, through clefts and topicalization, targets a position outside
TP, forms operator-variable chains only and co-occurs with wh-move.
The analysis of preverbal focus in Romanian is based on the assumption
that focus features are specified on T, along with other inflectional
features. The tests show that fronting to Focus is correlated with the
D-feature on T: only the clauses in which [D] is checked against DP/NP
argument allow for fronting to Focus within TP.
The option [focus+wh] is not available to Romanian because this
language lacks the quantificational context that is necessary for
derivations with fronting to Focus within CP. For Romanian, the
association [focus+wh] leads to illicit derivations in the language.
Particularly, the way in which it is instantiated -- through
dissociated landing sites for [wh] and [focus] checking -- it brings
further support to the syntactic correlation between wh- and focus
An interesting paper, which brings forth dimensions of Focus hitherto
unnoticed in the literature.
5) [Q] Checking IN Mandarin Chinese Yes-No Questions, by Ning Zhang
Being a data oriented paper, its empirical contribution is significant,
and will benefit researchers interested in the parametric study of
question types. The author systematically identifies the yes-no
question types in Chinese, studies their syntactic properties, and then
presents an unified treatment to these five types of yes-no questions,
and explores further the conditions under which a choice is made
between overt and covert checking.
For example, in Chinese, (a C-final language), a yes-no question can be
asked in one of five ways: S-ma, S-not-V, S-not, A-not-A, and shi-bu-
i) S-ma questions are formed by attaching a complementizer 'ma' at the
end of a declarative sentence.
ii) S-not-V questions are formed by attaching the word 'bu'"not" or
'mei' "not" plus a copy of the matrix verb at the end of a declarative
iii) S-not questions are formed by attaching a word 'bu' "not" or
'mei'"not" at the end of a declarative sentence.
iv) A-not-A questions are formed by reduplication of the first syllable
or the complete form of the questioned element and an infixation of
'bu' or 'mei' between the reduplicant and the base.
a) A-bu-A occurs with unbounded eventualities.
b) A-mei-A occurs with bounded eventualities.
c) The element 'A' in A-not-A can be a preposition, an adjective, as
well as a verb.
v) 'Shi' can be a contrastive focus marker in Chinese.
The syntactic relationship among these five types of Chinese yes-no
questions is studied. It is found that S-not type shares many syntactic
properties with S-not-V type and may be a PF variant of S-not-V.
It is claimed that a strong [Q] of C is overtly checked by a merge 'ma'
in S-ma questions and by sigma -to-C raising in S-not- (V) questions,
where sigma is a general functional head, where both sentential [Neg]
and other propositional features can be hosted. Chinese sigma can be
either interrogative or negative, and interrogative sigma has two
strong features: [Q] and [V]. They are checked by the word 'bu' or 'mei
(you) and a copy of the verb respectively. Thus, Chinese yes-no
questions can have 'not-V-support', which is similar to do-support in
English matrix yes-no questions, which explains the presence of not-V
in S-not-V questions. Hence, sigma -to-C raising in S-not- (V)
questions adjoins the word bu/mei (you) and the copy of the verb to C.
In addition, A-not-A and shi-bu-shi questions check the [-int][Q] of C
by covert movement. Thus in these various yes-no questions, checking
may be both overt and covert and can take the form of both Merge and
Move operations. Furthermore, the interactions between a yes-no
question and a sentence negation exhibit Relativized Minimality and
feature compatibility. Finally, the theoretical relations among these
checking operations is explored.
Section IV: Ellipsis, Reconstruction and Related Phenomenon
1) A Minimalist Theory of LF Copy, by Satoshi Oku
The author claims in this paper that sloppy identity is not symmetrical
but is allowed only in one direction, and that this asymmetry receives
a natural account under an LF copy approach to VP-Ellipsis. Following a
long tradition of interpretive approaches to VP-Ellipsis, it is assumed
that what licenses VP-Ellipsis is the LF operation which copies
features of the antecedent. Hence, it follows that the reconstructed
site cannot have more features than the original antecedent has. A
question to ask then is whether copying of features 'fewer than' the
original is possible.
The concept of Move-F(eature) in Chomsky (1995) makes it explicit that
relevant features of a lexical item can be affected by LF syntactic
operations. In other words, 'LF feature decomposition' of a lexical
item is possible. The author extends the idea of LF feature
decomposition to the LF Copy operation in ellipsis structures,
proposing that: The LF Copy operation allows copying of a subset of the
original features of an antecedent onto the ellipsis site. That is, the
features of the reconstructed elliptic site can be (to some extent)
fewer than the features of its antecedent source, while they cannot be
more than the features of the antecedent.
Based on data from English, the proposed analysis gives a unified
account of seemingly unrelated facts observed in VP-Ellipsis:
i) sloppy identity of verbal morphology between the antecedent verb and
the elliptic verb is possible only when the verbal morphology feature
in the elliptic site is a subset of the verbal morphology of the
antecedent VP, but not vice versa.
ii) an R-expression and a reflexive in the antecedent VP can be the
reconstruction source of the corresponding pronoun in the elliptic
site, but a pronoun in the antecedent VP cannot be the reconstruction
source of the corresponding reflexive.
ii) follows, given the natural assumption that the features composing a
pronoun are a subset of the features composing the corresponding R-
expression, or of the features composing the corresponding reflexive in
The author points out that an interesting further project would be to
make a thorough comparison of the present LF copy approach and another
traditional approach to VP-Ellipsis, the (PF) -Deletion approach.
2) A/A-Bar Movement and Attract-F, by Juan Romero-Morales and Norberto
It has been observed that A-movement and A-bar movement behave
differently with respect to reconstruction effects. Only arguments
moved to A-bar positions are able to reconstruct. By contrast,
arguments moved to A-positions do not reconstruct. This asymmetry
between A/A-bar movement does not follow from any principle of grammar.
Moreover, it goes against the spirit of the Minimalist program, since
it assumes that there are two types of movement subject to different
The authors propose that this asymmetry can be derived from the
properties of the rule Attract-F. Chomsky (1995: 297) argues that
movement must be understood as attraction of formal features.
1) K attracts F if F is the closest feature that can enter into a
checking relation with a sublabel of K.
The fact that apparently the whole category is moving is due to the
properties of the morphophonological component to ensure convergence at
this level, and need not be stipulated in the formulation of Attract F.
If this is the case, only the feature attracted moves at LF. The
proposal therefore is that the A/A-bar movement asymmetry can be
established out of this property in terms of 2).
2a) Attracted features cannot be reconstructed;
2b) Pied-piped features must be reconstructed.
It is argued that 2) is all that is needed to explain the existence of
different types of movement. This demands that the features attracted
in A-movement and the features attracted in A-bar movement are
different. The proposal is that formal features are organized under
different sublabels. One sublabel includes operator-like features
involved in processes like wh-movement, topicalization, etc., the other
sublabel includes the features involved in A-movement(categorial
features, Case, and phi-features). Only features dominated by the
sublabel that contains the feature attracted are carried along as
'free-riders' and form a derivative chain. If this is correct, the
apparent lack of reconstruction effects in instances of A-movement may
be attributed to the fact that the attracted features are precisely
those that encode referentiality (Chomsky 1995).
In order to give an account of the differences traditionally attributed
to the distinction between A/A-bar movement, the notion of Extended
Domain is introduced. Specifically, the proposal is that when an
element raises, it extends its binding domain up to its landing
position. It is also shown that the notion of extended domain and the
generalization in 2) offer a straight forward explanation of Backward
Binding facts, which have not received a satisfactory account in
Section V: DPs: Features and Syntactic Relations
1) Object Agreement in Hungarian: A Case for Minimalism, by Huba Bartos
This paper investigates the syntactic aspects of object agreement in
Hungarian. Hungarian displays two verbal agreement paradigms
'subjective conjugation' and 'objective conjugation' respectively. In
very general terms, verbs used intransitively are invariably affixed
with the subjective inflectional endings, while with transitively used
verbs the choice between the paradigms depends on some property of the
object. Roughly speaking, if the object is a definite NP, it goes with
'objective' agreement on the verb, whereas if it is indefinite, the
'subjective' paradigm is chosen. When there is no object, the choice
defaults to the subjective inflection. However, when the object
includes a possessive construction, the verb usually appears with the
objective paradigm, even though the same indefinite determiner is
present(and accordingly, the NP is still interpreted as indefinite. )
In such cases, the verb could carry subjective endings too, but with a
different(non-specific) interpretation. A similar pattern is shown with
an indefinite pronoun. Surprisingly, the determiner 'minden' "every",
which is usually cited as a typical definite determiner, normally
triggers subjective agreement. The presence of a possessive
construction however results in a switch to object agreement. Likewise,
if 'minden' is preceded by the definite article, the object pattern
On the basis of more such examples, it is concluded that neither the
definiteness itself, nor the possessive construction (possibly seen as
giving rise to definiteness), on its own, can be used as an explanation
for the distribution of object agreement.
Again, there is a sharp contrast between 3rd person pronouns and
1st/2nd person pronouns. When objects, the former trigger objective
agreement, the latter on the other hand require subjective agreement.
Adopting the phrase structure attributed to Hungarian nominal phrases
presented in Szabolcsi (1992, 1994) the author shows that: "V bears
objective inflection iff it has a DP as its object."
At the heart of the suggestion lies the assumption that nominal phrases
are not uniform categorially; some project a DP layer and while others
do not, and this entails important differences in their behaviour.
Specifically, the account capitalizes on the minimalist view of Case-
licensing, according to which Case is a feature of D0, whereby nominal
phrases not projecting a DP layer will not participate in any case
licensing mechanism, thus they will not be visible objects for the verb
in the process of case checking.
The author argues on the basis of the analysis presented, that the
minimalist framework is superior to its predecessor Government and
Binding theory in its ability to capture the facts involved. Both
empirically and theoretically finer aspects of Nominal constructions
are brought out.
2) Demonstratives in a Feature-Based Theory of Syntax, by Luis Silva-
Villar and Javier Gutiérrez-Rexach
In this paper, a fully derivational and feature-based analysis of
demonstrative DPs in Spanish is presented. Special attention is paid to
the diachronic origin of Spanish demonstratives and to the features of
this class of lexical resources that are [+Interpretable] at the LF
interface. In general, the paper provides evidence for the claim that a
minimalist perspective allows for a deeper understanding of the
relationships between synchronic and diachronic morphology, and between
syntactic features and semantic interpretation.
The behaviour of Spanish demonstratives support the idea that the
grammar of demonstrative DPs cannot be derived from the grammar of
definite DPs. The expressions headed by demonstratives behave
differently from those headed by definite and existential determiners.
If demonstratives have a particular set of interpretable features which
are different from the set of features of articles and existentials,
then it follows from minimalist assumptions that their behavior in the
computational system will be different.
The authors take as a point of departure the Old Spanish productive
form 'aquel' as the most representative element of the system that
gives us a definite clue to the understanding of the derivational
history of demonstratives in general. The lexical item 'aquel' is a
complex word that carries a number of features that must be checked to
avoid a crash of the derivation. It is composed of:
a) ECCE---a type of emphatic deictic form
b) EUM -- an anaphoric demonstrative pronoun
c) ILLE -- a demonstrative
Because of that, the original meaning of 'aquel' is close to 'here he
is'/'here the +Noun is'. Such deictic derivations are analyzed in
Silva-Villar (1996) as instances of derivations headed by deictic units
generated in C in which the nominal features of T(Chomsky 1992) have
been incorporated into C. In accordance with Chomsky, T contains both a
feature for the licensing of a DP (a D-feature) and a feature for the
licensing of a verb (V-feature). Neither D nor V features are
interpretable at the interface levels, which forces them to be
eliminated by checking operations at Spell-out. The final
configuration, D/N (of T) -to-C, spells out a complex C. This analysis
is adopted here.
The empirical results are based on the interaction of features never
considered in previous studies, such as double demonstratives and Topic
demonstratives, among others. Additionally, it is shown that there are
some strong dependencies between demonstratives and a specific series
of adjectives and weak quantifiers as licensers. The outcome is not
predicted by any previous theory of DP but is easily accomodated in the
Despite later developments in the Minimalist Program Chomsky (1998,
1999, 2001, etc.), the papers in this volume are very important with
regard not only to the issues that they address and the analyses they
provide, but also to their empirical content. Though most of the papers
are very elaborate theoretically, giving a lot of weight to the
historical aspect of the theory, and then explaining why a modification
is necessary, some are entirely data oriented, and bring out finer
points either unnoticed before, or rarely taken note of in the
literature. What is lacking however, is a comprehensive introduction by
the editors themselves. Small notes in the beginning of each Section,
explaining the logic of such a division could also have helped. There
are some typos, which I have chosen to ignore. All said and done, this
an enlightening book, which however makes a lot of demands on the
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and "covert" movement. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory.
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Chomsky, N. 1981. Lectures on government and binding. Dordrecht: Foris.
Chomsky, N. 1986a. Barriers. Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press.
Chomsky, N. 1986b. Knowledge of language. New York; Praeger.
Chomsky, N. 1992. "A Minimalist Program for Linguistic Theory" (MIT
Occasional Papers in Linguistics, 1). Cambridge, Mass: MIT. [Repr. As
Chap 3 of Chomsky 1995: 167-218]
Chomsky, N. 1994. Bare phrase structure.
Chomsky, N. 1995. The Minimalist Program. Cambridge, MIT press .
Chomsky, N. 1998. Minimalist Inquiries: The Framework. MIT Occasional
Papers in Linguistics No. 15. MITWPL.
Chomsky, N. 1999. Derivation By Phase. MIT Occasional Papers in
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Chomsky, Noam. 2001. 'Beyond Explanatory Adequacy' Ms. MIT
Chomsky, Noam & Howard Lasnik 1977. "Filters and Control". LI 8. 425-
Chomsky, Noam, and Howard Lasnik. 1993. The theory of principles and
parameters. In J. Jacobs, A. von Stechow, W. Sternefeld, and T.
Vennemann, eds., Syntax: An international handbook of contemporary
research. Berlin: de Gruyter.
Culicover, Peter. 1997. Principles and Parameters. Oxford: Oxford
Grimshaw, Jane. 1991. Extended projection. Ms., Brandeis University,
Hornstein, Norbert. 1995. Logical Form, from GB to Minimalism. Oxford &
Cambridge, Mass: Basil Blackwell.
Kayne, Richard 1994. The Antisymmetry of Syntax. Cambridge, Mass: MIT
Marantz, Alec. 1984. On the Nature of Grammatical Relations. Cambridge,
Mass: MIT press.
Rizzi, Luigi. 1991. Residual Verb Second and the Wh Criterion
(=Technical Reports in Formal and Computational Linguistics, 3).
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Silva-Villar, Luis. 1996. Enclisis in Northwestern Iberian Languages: A
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Speas, Margaret. 1986. Adjunctions and Projections in Syntax. Ph. D.
dissertation, MIT, Cambridge, Mass.
Szabolcsi, Anna (1992) : "Subordination Articles and Complementizers".
Approaches to Hungarian, vol IV, ed., by István Kenesei, 123-137.
Szabolcsi, Anna. 1994. All quantifiers are not equal: the case of
focus. appeared in Acta Linguistica Hungarica.
Szabolcsi Anna (1995) : On Modes of Operation . Forum talk at the Tenth
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appeared in the proceedings
Ura, H. 1996. Multiple Feature Checking: A Theory of Grammatical
Function Splitting. PhD dissertation, MIT, Cambridge, Mass.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
I submitted my PhD thesis at the University of Hyderabad, India, in
March 2001. I am STILL awaiting my viva !!! My research interests
include Minimalist Syntax (morphology included), Semantics, and their
application in Computational Syntax and Semantics. I am presently
working on my book on 'Bangla Syntax' and on a paper on 'Object Shift'.
It is my constant endeavour to bring to people's notice that linguistic
literature SHOULD be easily available in India, if not in libraries,
through INTERNET or in book stores, at a reasonable price, and in
INDIAN CURRENCY, just as journals and books of ALL OTHER SUBJECTS
(viz., Physics, Medicine, Anthropology etc.) are available, so that one
doesn't have to give up Linguistics for want of a job or for want of
literature -- which is often the case, unfortunately.