Structure Removal in Syntax

About the Project

Systems which include structure-building operations usually feature complementary structure-removing operations as well. The Minimalist Program (Chomsky (2001; 2013)) is characterised by by a structure-building operation, which accounts for the incremental generation of syntactic representation as well as for modelling movement, namely Merge. This project pursues the hypothesis that a complementary structure-removing operation Remove is not only expected for conceptual reasons, but also backed directly by empirical evidence, and allows a whole new prospect on a number of phenomena which have been neglected or treated unsatisfyingly in minimalist analyses. More concretely, the project looks at empirical areas which prompt the assumption of conflicting representations:

  1. Diatheses (e.g. passive, antipassive)
  2. Deletions (e.g. sluicing)
  3. Reanalytical processes (e.g. restructuring, asymmetries in movement)
  4. Oscillating effects (e.g. NP vs. DP)

The assumption that Merge and Remove obey the same constraints (especially the Strict Cycle) predicts short lifespans for any material which is affected by structure removal. These effects play a crucial role in the empirical investigation. On one hand, the studies are focused on examining grammatical phenomena comparatively across languages. On the other hand the research entails a detailled look at the grammar of an individual language (German), including the creation of a comprehensive fragment.

Project proposal

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