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A Puzzle about P-Stranding and a Possible Solution

Author(s): Alex Drummond, Norbert Hornstein and Howard Lasnik

Source: Linguistic Inquiry, Vol. 41, No. 4 (Fall 2010), pp. 689-692
Published by: The MIT Press
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A Puzzle about P-Stranding

In English, A-movement operations that move elements to the left are

and a Possible Solution

able to strand prepositions - (1) - but those that move elements to the

Alex Drummond

right - (3b) - cannot, as observed by Ross (1967).

University of Maryland
Norbert Hornstein

University of Maryland
Howard Lasnik

University of Maryland

(1) a. Whoj did you look at tx7

b. It was Mary! that I looked at t'.
(2) a. John saw [the man who lived next door] in the living room

b. John saw t' in the living room yesterday [the man who
lived next door] i .

(3) a. John looked at [the man who lived next door] in the
living room yesterday.
b. *John looked at tx in the living room yesterday [the man

who lived next door]!.

cf. John looked in the living room yesterday at [the man

who lived next door].

Why the difference? Bresnan (1976) presented an ingenious account

based on the A-over-A Condition (Chomsky 1964). Indicating that
"Heavy NP Shift" can apply to PPs as well as to NPs, she formulated
the process in terms of [- V], the feature assumed to be shared by N and
P. She then observed that the operation of a transformation extracting a

heavy NP out of a heavy PP would violate the A-over-A Condition.

There is at least one difficulty with this account: rightward movements

We would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for pointing out some
errors and ambiguities in an earlier version of this squib.

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of NP and PP seem to have different properties, hence are unlikely to

be captured by the same transformation (short of Move a, of course,

but then all bets are off). In particular, rightward movement of NP

does indeed usually require that the NP be (phonetically) heavy.

(4) a. ?*I saw yesterday Jim.

b. ??I saw yesterday Harry.

c. I saw yesterday Alexander.

But there is no such requirement for PP-movement.

(5) I spoke yesterday to him. [or even to'm]

To our knowledge, there exists no current explanation for the directional asymmetry in preposition stranding. We would like to suggest
that it can be explained given three currently common assumptions:

(a) Spell-Out is cyclic (Chomsky 2000, Uriagereka 1999), and

the output of the linearization operation that gives an ordering at PF
has the form proposed by Fox and Pesetsky (2005). More specifically,

linearization applies at every phase, delivering a set of linearization

statements of the form "X precedes Y."1 The union of the sets of
these statements must be consistent for the derivation to converge at

(b) PP is a phase. Languages differ in whether or not intermediate

movement to Spec,PP is possible - that is, in whether or not PP has

an ' 'escape hatch." P-stranding is possible only when such an escape
hatch exists.2 This approach to P-stranding goes back to Baltin 1977
and Van Riemsdijk 1978 and has recently been revived in a minimalist
setting in Abels 2003.3
(c) Linearization applies so that Ps linearly follow their escape
hatches. This seems an empirically correct assumption, which may
follow on independent grounds if escape hatches are specifiers. Chomsky (2004: 1 10) notes that (whatever the merits of the strict antisymmet-

ric theory; Kayne 1994) specifiers are typically or always on the left.
For current purposes, any linearization procedure that situates PP es-

cape hatches on the left edge of PP will serve.

1 The relevant notion here is precedence, not immediate precedence.
2 Our account crucially depends on the phase-theoretic assumption that
for an XP to escape a PP, it must transit through the edge of the PP. In contrast,

Fox and Pesetsky (2005) do not assume that movement out of a linearization
domain must necessarily proceed via the edge of that domain; this is only
necessary insofar as it is necessary to avoid linearization conflicts. It seems to
follow (we believe contrary to fact) that for a in the configuration [Xp ...
[yp [zp <*]]] with XP, YP, ZP linearization domains and a rightmost
in each, a should be able to move to right-adjoin to XP in a single step.
3 Abels hypothesizes that PPs are not phases in languages that allow Pstranding (since if they were phases, the complement of P would have to move

to Spec,PP in order to be extracted, and this would violate a prohibition on

short movement). Contra Abels, we assume that PPs are phases in all languages.

However, Abels notes (p. 227) that an alternative to assuming that P is not a
phase head in P-stranding languages is to assume that in these languages a
further projection intervenes between P and its (apparent) complement.

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Given (a)-(c), the asymmetry noted above follows trivially. In
order to ' 'escape' ' a PP, a DP must move via Spec,PP. However, as
PP is a linearization domain, this yields a linearization where the DP
precedes the preposition. This blocks any operation that subsequently

moves the DP to the right in another linearization domain, since the

resulting set of linearization statements would be inconsistent. Movement to the left suffers no such fate for obvious reasons. The relevant

structure at the point of Spell-Out of the PP is illustrated in (6).

(6) ...[> DP, [^P /,]]...

The same logic seems to apply to recent antisymmetric approaches to rightward movement (Kayne 2000:250), where apparent
rightward movement of XP is taken to be leftward movement of XP
followed by remnant movement of a constituent immediately (or very

nearly immediately) below the landing site of XP. Once Spell-Out has
applied at the point in the derivation shown in (6), any future derivational operations must respect the ordering statement "DP precedes
P." Thus, whatever the intricacies of the syntactic operations that
eventually place the DP on the right, a linearization conflict will arise.

Assumptions (a)-(c) have implications for the analysis of rightward movement in general, since they have the consequence that successive-cyclic rightward movement is impossible. If finite clauses are

always "strong" phases, a form of Ross's (1967) Right Roof Constraint is derived. The constraint derived will be stricter than the origi-

nal in those cases where vP is a strong phase, and (as we have shown)
in the case of extraction from PP.

Abels, Klaus. 2003. Successive-cyclicity, anti-locality, and adposition

stranding. Doctoral dissertation, University of Connecticut,
Storrs. Available at

Baltin, Mark. 1977. PP as a bounding node. In Proceedings of the

Eighth Annual Meeting of the North East Linguistic Society, ed.

by Mark Stein, 33-40. Amherst: University of Massachusetts,

Graduate Linguistic Student Association.
Bresnan, Joan. 1976. On the form and functioning of transformations.

Linguistic Inquiry 7:3-40.

Chomsky, Noam. 1964. The logical basis of linguistic theory. In Proceedings of the Ninth International Congress of Linguistics,

ed. by Horace Lunt, 914-978. The Hague: Mouton.

Chomsky, Noam. 2000. Minimalist inquiries: The framework. In Step
by step: Essays on minimalist syntax in honor of Howard Lasnik, ed. by Roger Martin, David Michaels, and Juan Uriagereka,

89-155. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Chomsky, Noam. 2004. Beyond explanatory adequacy. In The cartography of syntactic structures. Vol. 3, Structures and beyond,
ed. by Adriana Belletti, 104-131. Oxford: Oxford University

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Fox, Danny, and David Pesetsky. 2005. Cyclic linearization of syntactic structure. Theoretical Linguistics 31:1-45.
Kayne, Richard. 1994. The antisymmetry of syntax. Cambridge, MA:
MIT Press.

Kayne, Richard. 2000. Overt versus covert movement. In Parameters

and universais, 223-281. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Riemsdijk, Henk van. 1978. A case study in syntactic markedness.

Dordrecht: Foris.

Ross, John Robert. 1967. Constraints on variables in syntax. Doctoral

dissertation, MIT, Cambridge, MA. Published as Infinite syntax! Norwood, NJ: Ablex (1986).
Uriagereka, Juan. 1999. Multiple Spell-Out. In Working minimalism,
ed. by Samuel David Epstein and Norbert Hornstein, 251-282.

Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Scope Indefinites: A Reply

Buerle (1983) argues against the Scope Theory of Intensionality

(STI), proposing instead a system that divorces the relative scope of

to Buerle 1983

quantifiers from their intensional status {de re or de dicto). One con-

Possible Worlds and Wide

Ezra Keshet

vincing argument Buerle presents involves sentences like the follow-

University of Michigan

ing (translated loosely from German), which create a paradox for the

(1) George thinks every Red Sox player is staying in some fivestar hotel downtown.

Imagine that George believes a group of men to all be staying at the

same five-star hotel - perhaps he overhears the men comparing notes
on their luxurious accommodations. This group of men happens to be

the Boston Red Sox baseball team, but George does not know this.
Furthermore, George does not know which hotel they are staying at;
he is only of the opinion that they are all staying together in a fivestar establishment. In fact, there may not even be any five-star hotels
downtown; the sentence can be true even if the players' hotel actually
has only four stars.
In this context, the quantificational force of the existential quanti-

fier some five-star hotel takes wider scope than that of the universal
quantifier every Red Sox player, since there is only one hotel in which

all of the players are staying. Therefore, under standard assumptions

about quantifiers, the existential quantifier should take wider scope

than the universal quantifier. However, the universal quantifier is de
re and the existential quantifier is de dicto. Therefore, under the STI,
the universal quantifier should take scope over the intensional verb
think and the existential quantifier should take scope below think.

The universal quantifier should therefore take wider scope than the
Thanks are due to Kai von Fintei and Alan Bale for their invaluable assistance in the preparation of this squib.

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