LIN 651: Topics in A-Syntax
MWF 10:30-11:25, Staller Ctr. 3218



However, recent research into a wider range of languages, many of them understudied and typologically very different from more well-studied languages like English, has shown that not all languages respect the A- vs. A-bar divide. Some A-phenomena in these languages bear the empirical profile of classic A-bar phenomena and vice-versa, forcing us to rethink the A vs. A-distinction from the ground up. In this course, we will approach the distinction between A and A-bar phenomena by investigating A phenomena like phi-agreement, case, argument-structure, control, (hyper-)raising, EPP, object shift, passivization, binding, & certain types of scrambling in a wide range of languages. 

Here are the main research questions we will be concerned with:

  • What empirical diagnostics distinguish A- from A-bar phenomena?

  • How is the A- vs. A-bar distinction theoretically modelled?

  • How do we deal with hybrid A/A-bar effects in languages like Dinka and Korean?

  • How does the A vs. A-bar distinction shape our understanding of syntactic locality?

  • How empirically justified (i.e. useful) is the A vs. A-bar distinction? 

Within the generative framework, structural positions are traditionally distinguished as being A(rgument) vs. A-bar. The former are positions that can be occupied by arguments, thus can be assigned a theta-role; the latter form an Elsewhere or negative category, denoting positions that are not A positions. This binary division has major implications for operations in syntax and the rules that apply to them: e.g. movement (A movement is typically bounded within finite clauses, while A-bar movement is not), Case assignment (only available for A positions), argument structure, agreement, and binding, among others.

Required Readings:

  • Alexiadou, Artemis &, Elena Anagnostopoulou & Florian Schäfer. 2017. Passive. Syntactic Structures after 60 Years: The Impact of the Chomskyan Revolution in Linguistics, edited by Norbert Hornstein, Howard Lasnik, Pritty Patel-Grosz and Charles Yang, Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter Mouton, 2018, pp. 403-426.

  • Baker, Mark. 2013. Agreement and case. In M. Den Dikken (Ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of Generative Syntax (Cambridge Handbooks in Language and Linguistics, pp. 607-654). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

  • Bhatt, Rajesh. 2003. Topics in the syntax of modern Indo-Aryan languages: scrambling. Course handout. MIT. 

  • Bhatt, Rajesh. 2016. Minimalist Approaches to the Syntax of South Asian Languages. The Language and Linguistics of South Asia. Eds. Hans Henrich Hock & Elena Bashir. De Gruyter, Mouton.

  •  Bhatt, Rajesh and Stefan Keine. 2021. Crossover asymmetries Handout from talk given at Syracuse. 

  • Collins, Chris. A smuggling approach to the passive in English. Syntax 8: 2, 81-120. 

  • Deal, Amy Rose. 2017. Covert hyperraising to object. Proceedings of NELS 47. Eds. Andrew Lamont & Katerina Tetzloff. 

  • Halpert, Claire. 2018. Raising, unphased. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory.

  • Hicks, Glyn. 2009. Tough-constructions and their derivation. Linguistic Inquiry 40:4, 535-566.

  • Keine, Stefan. 2018. Case vs. positions in the locality of A-movement. Glossa: a journal of theoretical linguistics. 

  • Lohninger, Magdalena and Iva Kovač and Susanne Wurmbrand.  From prolepsis to hyperraising. Philosophies 7:2.  

  • McFadden, Thomas. 2004. The position of morphological case in the derivation. University of Pennsylvania Dissertation. 

  • Polinsky, Maria. 2013. Raising and control. The Cambridge Handbook of Comparative Syntax, 577-606. Ed. Marcel den Dikken. Cambridge University Press. 

  • Safir, Ken. 2019. The A-A'-distinction as an epiphenomenon. Linguistic Inquiry. 

  • Salzmann, Martin. 2017. Prolepsis. The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Syntax. 2nd Edition. Eds. Martin Everaert and Henk C. van Riemsdijk.  

  • Sigurðsson, Halldór Ármann. 2011. On the new passive. Syntax 14:2, 148-178. 

  • Van Urk, Coppe. 2015. A uniform syntax for phrasal movement: A case study of Dinka Bor. MIT Dissertation. 


Additional Readings:

  • Bobaljik, Jonathan. 2002. A-Chains at the PF-Interface: Copies and `Covert' movement. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 20: 197-267. 

  • Cable, Seth. 2012. The optionality of movement and EPP in Dholuo. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 30: 651-697. 

  • Chomsky, Noam. 1981. Lectures on Government and Binding. Mouton de Gruyter. Berlin. 

  • Fox, Danny. 1999. Reconstruction, binding theory, and the interpretation of chains. Linguistic Inquiry 30: 2, 157-196. 

  • Fleisher, Nicholas. 2013. On the absence of scope reconstruction in tough-subject A-chains. Linguistic Inquiry 44:2, 321-332.

  • Hartman, Jeremy. 2011b. (Non-)intervention in A-movement: some cross-constructional and cross-linguistic consequences. Linguistic Variation 11.2: 121-148. 

  • Longenbaugh, Nick. 2017. Composite A/A' movement: evidence from tough movement. 

  • Polinsky, Maria and Eric Potsdam. 2013. Diagnosing covert A-movement. Diagnosing Syntax, eds. Lisa Cheng & Norbert Corver.

  • Postal, Paul. 1974. On raising. MIT Press. Cambridge, MA. 

  • Vikner, Sten. 1994. Scandinavian object shift and West Germanic scrambling. Studies on Scrambling. Eds. Norbert Corver & Henk van Riemsdijk, 487-517. Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin