KACL Lecture Series

#34 : Prof. Simin Karimi
Professor, University of Arizona and Cambridge University
Title: A versus A' movement: A myth?
Date : October 14, 2004, 17:30--18:30
Place : Kobe Shoin Women's University, Room 1411, ground floor of Bldg 14, next to the Graduate School Building (Bldg 13)

The abstract can be downloaded in PDF : KarimiShoin.pdf

Syntactic movements have been traditionally divided into two categories, A(rgument) movement and non-A(rgument) or A'A movement. Furthermore, local scrambling is considered as an instance of A-movement while long distance scrambling is assumed to represent A'-A movement (Saito 1985, Mahajan 1990). However, diagnostic tools that have been utilized to distinguish A versus A'-A movememts (e.g. reconstruction, Anti-Weak-Crossover effects, and floating quantifiers) do not provide a clear cut distinction between these two types of movements. Moreover, within the more recent approach of the Minimalist program, the EPP feature, a purely syntactic device, is considered to trigger movement (Chomsky 2000). The derivation has to proceed through the edges of vP and CP (Chomsky 2001). Consequently, long distance movement provides a problem for the A vs. A' distinction since the same element will have to move from an A' position into an A position, an instance of what was earlier considered as improper movement. Furthermore, the application of two A movements (e.g. wh-movement and long-distance scrambling) to the same XP is prohibited, a fact that casts additional doubt on the merit of the typology of movement as we know it. Finally, Persian syntax provides interesting facts that reveal the existence of constraints on movement that are independent of an A/A' distinction. Thus the typology of movement we have been accustomed to becomes rather suspicious.

In this paper, I discuss issues that reinforce this suspicion. Three types of arguments against a typology of movement based on an A/A'-A distinction are examined. First, it is shown that properties of A/A'-A movement overlap in many cases, sometimes even with respect to one single position. Second, the interaction of different types of A'-A movement is examined, and the impossibility of this interaction is discussed in the light of Epstein's (1992) Economy of Derivation and Muler and Sternefeld's (1996) Principle of Unambiguous Binding. Finally, I investigate scrambling of argument and non-argument elements in Persian and the constraint restricting this movement. In the light of these analyses, we arrive at the conclusion that the A vs. A' distinction is not a basic property of UG, and that the effects attributed to these two types of movements must be derived from other properties of grammar. Crucially, we suggest that this distinction is partially determined based on the activation domain of XP in a given language.


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