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Scrambling, LF, and phrase structure change in Yiddish

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Joel Wallenberg


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This article proposes that Holmberg's Generalization, the well-known constraint on Scandinavian object shift, can and should be extended as a general constraint on scrambling past c-commanding heads, and applies to the scrambling phenomena of German, Yiddish, Japanese, Korean, and other languages. In addition to evidence from the synchronic typology of scrambling and object shift, the existence of such a constraint can be shown most conclusively by careful observation of languages undergoing phrase structure changes over time. Specifically, we use the change in the position of Tense over the history of Yiddish as an experimental domain for testing the hypothesized constraint, and show that the change in Tense restricts the scrambling options in Yiddish precisely in the predicted manner. Once we have shown how scrambling is constrained empirically, we argue that the constraint stems from a condition on the interface between the narrow syntax and LF, the Ô┐┐Conservation of C-CommandÔ┐┐, which ensures that the semantic scope of heads can still be calculated after various movement operations have applied in the syntax. Finally, we suggest that the empirical and theoretical results of the study provide indirect support for an antisymmetric view of phrase structure.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Wallenberg JC

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Lingua

Year: 2013

Volume: 133

Pages: 289-318

Print publication date: 01/09/2013

ISSN (print): 0024-3841

ISSN (electronic): 1872-6135

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.lingua.2013.05.002


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