Strong arguments for a derivational organization of syntax are
provided by opaque interactions of grammatical building blocks (like
rules, constraints, or schemata), i.e., by counter-bleeding and
counter-feeding phenomena. Some of these opaque interactions can be
captured in declarative/representational approaches by enriching
representations (e.g., by traces/copies), others less
straightforwardly so, and some not at all.
Arguments for extremely small local domains in derivational syntax (as
in phase theory) are typically based on conceptual considerations
(economy, learnability), but they can also be empirical in nature:
Assuming a larger accessible domain (for syntactic rules/constraints),
a wrong output would be predicted.
Assuming a derivational syntax with small accessible windows (as in
some versions of the minimalist program) leads to a restrictive
theory, but at the same time it raises potential problems. In
particular, the questions arise of (i) whether there are
meta-constraints on the order of operations (cf. Pullum (1979),
McCawley (1984), Chomsky (2013)), and (ii) how phenomena can be
addressed where it looks as though the accessible parts of a
derivation must be larger after all because crucial information that
would be needed for proper constraint/rule evaluation is otherwise
lost. On the basis of improper movement and remnant movement
constructions in German and other languages (where the two potential
problems co-occur), I will argue that this challenge can be met in a
- Chomsky, Noam. 2013. Problems of Projection. Lingua 130, 33–49.
- McCawley, James. 1984. Exploitation of the Cyclic Principle as a Research Strategy in Syntax. In Wim de Geest and Y. Putseys (Eds): Sentential Complementation, Dordrecht: Foris, 165–183.
- Geoffrey Pullum. 1979. Rule Interaction and the Organization of a Grammar. New York: Garland.
Maintained by Stefan Müller
Created: October 31,
Last modified: January 09, 2019