You are on page 1of 6

tefan Oltean, Course notes (Generative grammar)

Movement leaves a trace, it may leave intermediate traces, it is generally towards the left
and upward, rather than downward. Between the trace and the moved constituent there is
a C-commanding relation, in that the moved constituent moves to a c-commanding
position, from where it binds its trace (lowering seems not to obey the c-commanding
relation between the moved element and the trace, cf. lowering of verbal tense).
Movement is not an essentially free process, but one subject to several constraints.
Local movement constraint: in English it is the clause or the phrase
dominated by the CP
Head movement is clause-bound.
Maximal projections can be moved out of the clause in which they acquire
their thematic roles. Long extraction to the Spec of the higher CP proceeds through
the specifier of the lower CP, which is an escape hatch:
1. [CP Who do [IP you believe [CP who that [IP John saw who]]]]?
Movement to A (argument) positions A movement, i.e., movement to a position
which ca assign canonical grammatical function, e.g., the specifier of IP (hosts the
subject of the clause) or the complement of V (in passives), which are associated with
grammatical functions (subject, object).
Unergative and transitive verbs (with external arguments)
2. Sheila likes Martini. [Spec, IPSheilai [VP ti [V likes] [NP Martini]]]
Unaccusative verbs (with intenal argumets): break, freeze, accumulate.
3. Junk accumulates. [Spec, IP Junk [VP [V accumulates] [NP ti]]]
Movement to A (non-argument) positions A movement, i.e., movement to a
position that can be occupied by constituents with diverse functions, e.g., the specifier of
CP it hosts constituents with different grammatical functions (wh-movement)
4. Whom will Sheila entertain? [Spec, CP whomj [CPwill [Spec, IP Sheilai [VP ti [V
entertain] [NP whomj]]]]
Head-movement, movement to a head position, e.g., subject-auxiliary inversion (e.g.,
movement of will head-to-head movement); the head moves to a head position that is
not an A position (cf. 3 will)
Phrasal movement (XP movement) a complete constituent is moved; a phrase moves
to a phrase position.

tefan Oltean, Course notes (Generative grammar)

5. What party did Sheila go to? [Spec, CP what partyj [CPdid [Spec, IP Sheilai [VP ti
[V go] [PP to [NP what partyj]]]]]
Parasitic gap the gap in the position after to (the trace tj) depends on the
phrase with the interrogative pronoun in the higher clause; one of the elements
is moved to the front to form a question. The preposition to needs to be
followed by an object NP; and the question phrase what party has to be
understood as being the object of to. The question is analyzed as leaving
behind a trace at the original position, not pronounced but still grammatically
active, co-indexed with the question-word.
6. Whoi do you believe that John saw ti?
7. *Whoi do you believe the [claim [that Bill saw ti]] (Cf. Do you believe the
claim that Bill saw x?)
8. Whose book did you read? (pied-piping: the moved constituent is larger
than the wh-constituent)
9. *Whose did you read book? (In the starred examples, a wh-word has been
moved out of a position within an NP, to a position outside the NP.
In English only one Wh word can get out of the clause, because when it moves
through the C node it leaves a trace and therefore there wont be any space for any
other Wh word to get through GB explanation: there are island constraints that
block extraction from certain environments. The C node is the escape hatch through
which extracted words can move in those cases where long-distance extraction does
10. Who did you say[_had done what]?
11. *Whoi did you say whatj [ti had done tj]?
Romanian as well as some other languages allow multiple Wh fronting/ movement,
which leave multiple gaps in one clause. Wh questions and relative clauses are not
islands in Romanian.
12. Cine ce spuneai [c_a fcut_ ]?
13. Cine cui ce spuneai [c_va da_ _]?
14. Cine ce spuneai [c_i nchipuise [c ai fcut_]]?
15. Maria, cu care tiu ce crezi c am discutat, va veni mine.
16. Ambasadorul, pe care nu ai crezut [c teroritii l-au rpit_], nu a mai fost
vzut de trei zile.
17. *Ambasadorul, pe care nu ai crezut [zvonul [c teroritii l-au rpit_ ]], nu
a mai fost vzut de trei zile. (complex NPs are islands in Romanian, too).
In some other languages Wh movement is disallowed (Chinese, Japanese, Arabic):
18. Zhangsan yiwei [Lisi mai-le shinwe]?
Zhangsan thinks [Lisi bought what]?
What does Zhangsan think [Lisi bought t]?

tefan Oltean, Course notes (Generative grammar)

19. John-wa [Mary-ga nani-o katta kadooka] dare-ni tazuneta no

John-NOM [Mary-NOM what-ACC bought whether] who-DAT ask Q
Who did John ask whether Mary bought what?
Minimalism: assumption - Movement is driven by need to check features these are
strong or weak. Strong features must be checked before spell out, i.e., before grammar
splits; they must be checked overtly; weak features, are phonetically acceptable and do
not need to be checked at LF. Grammars are lazy, they dont check features unless they
must (cf. principle Procrastinate weak features must be checked covertly.
The Wh- feature of interrogative complementizers is strong in English and Romanian, but
weak in Chinese and Japanese, for example. In order for derivations to converge at PF, a
Wh phrase must overtly move and check the Wh feature of C in English, while in
Chinese Wh words only move covertly, at LF, in order to satisfy the Procrastinate
Principle. It suffices if only one Wh word moves; Procrastinate prevents other elements
from moving ovetly.
If the Wh- feature of the Wh words is strong, all Wh words move (cf. Romanian)
Chomsky: properties of the phonological component may require that when the formal
features of a lexical item move, all the other components of that category move (are piedpied):
20. Whose book did you read?
[did + Q [you read [whose book]]]



The interrogative complement Q has a strong Wh- feature that must be overtly checked,
otherwise the derivation crashes at PF.

Tough movement
Called this way because examples of it often contain the word tough:
21. John is tough to please. John is logically the object of please. Cf. It is
tough to please John.

tefan Oltean, Course notes (Generative grammar)













Another example, slightly different:

John seems to have lost.





ti I

have lost

tefan Oltean, Course notes (Generative grammar)

The Last Resort Nature of Syntactic Movement (cf. above, Wh movement)
Given the principle of economy, movement must happen for some reason. The case filter
was thought to provide such a driving force.
22. Mary is certain to win the race.
23. It is certain that Mary will win the race.
In 1 and 2 Mary is understood as the subject of win the race, as suggested by the
underlying structure (below), from which (1) is thought to be derived:
24. __is certain [Mary to win the race]
Mary cannot be assigned case; it raises to the higher subject position to get case. the
NP Mary has some problem and it moves to solve the problem. The driving force is case
This requirement is not satisfied immediately upon the introduction of the NP into
the structure, but sometimes needs to wait until the next cycle, or many cycles until the
last cycle, which is the ultimate landing site that licenses the nominative case.
25. Mary seems to be likely to win the race. give the underlying form
26. Mary is believed to seem to be likely to win the race. give the underlying
Hypothesis of minimalism: the driving force of movement is satisfied immediately; the
problem does not rest with Mary, but rather with the category (lexical or functional) that
licences case, i.e., the Inflection of the higher clause. Inflection has a strong D- or Nfeature which must be checked against the NP some element bearing a D/N- feature
must occupy [Spec, IP] before computation splits so that the strong feature be
appropriately checked; as soon as the Infl head is introduced into the structure, it will
attract the DP/NP that will check its feature. the driving force is the target, not the
moving item. The case of the DP/NP gets checked after the movement, and thus the
Greed of the attractor is satisfied (Greed Principle)
27. They saw him.
28. He was seen.
[IP heNOM was + Infl.NOM [VP seen ti]] moving to Spec IP, the case feature is
paired with the case feature of the Infl.
Assumption of minimalism: Lexical items are inserted on-line in the course of
syntactic derivation. The derivation proceeds cyclically with the most deeply embedded
structural unit created first, then combined with the head of which it is the complement to

tefan Oltean, Course notes (Generative grammar)

create a larger unit, and so on, in keeping with X-bar theory. no deep structure, i.e., an
independent representation following all lexical insertion and preceding all
In English the V feature of be is strong, requiring over checking against Inflection
direct insertion of the auxiliary into Infl.; the V feature of main verbs/ lexical verbs is
weak raising of V/movement of V is not overt, like in French or Romanian:
29. Paul is not bad.
30. *Paul plays not badly.
31. John often kisses Mary.
32. *John kisses often Mary.
33. *Jean souvent embrasse Marie.
34. Jean embrasse souvent Marie.
35. Petre o srut deseori pe Maria.
36. Does Paul play badly? (the verb is in situ in the phonetic form)
37. srut Petre pe Maria? (the V moves where?)
V-raising was thought to occur in French, in Romanian, but not in English. What moves
in English? How about Romanian? V-movement has PF motivation; it guarantees that the
inflection affix will be attached to a proper host.
Chomsky: the movement is overt in Romance languages, but covert in English.
It is a last resort movement of the verb, which moves in order to check a feature that
resides in Inflection. The difference between French and Romanian, on the one hand, and
English, on the other, is given by the fact that inflection in the former is strong, while
in English it is weak. So the feature that needs to be checked is strong or weak (strong
features are checked before the spell-out, weak features by the end of LF operations).
The principle Procrastinate: overt movement is disallowed except when it is necessary
(in 32 there is overt movement, but it is not necessary; in 33 it is necessary, but there is
no movement).