Loading Events

On two types of resumptive Ā-dependencies and feature-driven syntax

Matt Hewett, Georgetown University

Thu, 2/15 · 4:30 pm6:00 pm · 1-S-5 Green Hall

Program in Linguistics

Previous investigations into Ā-dependencies terminating in resumptive pronouns (i.e. resumptive Ā-dependencies) have reached different and often contradictory conclusions regarding the nature of resumption: some contend that resumptive Ā-dependencies are derived via movement, while others argue that they are not. This talk contributes to the ongoing debate and resolves the apparent paradox by arguing—both from novel data and from a broad survey of the prior literature—that two types of resumptive Ā-dependencies must be differentiated cross-linguistically (building on proposals in e.g. Borer 1981, Koopman 1984, and Engdahl 1985). One type is base-generated without Ā-movement (e.g. in Iraqi, Syrian, and Tunisian Arabic; pace prior movement-based analyses of Arabic resumption, cf. Aoun et al. 2001), whereas the other co-occurs with Ā-movement (e.g. in Spanish). The basis for this distinction is a critical reassessment of what diagnoses (Ā-)movement and why. The diagnostics, which march in lockstep cross-linguistically to reliably distinguish the two types of resumptives, are overt morphophonological reflexes of movement, island-sensitivity, parasitic gap licensing, exactly stranding, and case-connectivity. The result is the most empirically successful account of cross-linguistic patterns of resumption to date.

Furthermore, I argue that the correct analysis of resumption sheds light on the driving force of syntactic operations. A key corollary of my analysis of resumption is that natural language syntax must be able to differentiate between (external) Merge and Move (qua internal Merge). To account for this distinction, I argue that Merge must be feature-driven (i.e. driven by features of lexical items; see Adger 2003; Müller 2011; and Merchant 2019), as opposed to being free (or untriggered; see Chomsky 2015; Collins 2017; Safir 2019). I adduce novel evidence in support of the feature-driven approach coming from variation in the construction of long-distance dependencies which interleave movement and base-generation (i.e. mixed chains, see McCloskey 2002).

Matt Hewett graduated with a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Chicago in 2023 and he is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in Syntax in the Department of Linguistics at Georgetown University. His research reevaluates the nature of syntactic and morphological dependencies, with a particular focus on resumptivity and Ā-dependencies, (l-)selection, (pseudo)passives, intervention effects, discontinuous agreement, and Semitic languages. His research has been published in (or accepted by) Linguistic Inquiry, Natural Language & Linguistic Theory, and Brill’s Journal of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics.

Humanities Council Logo
Italian Studies Logo
American Studies Logo
Humanistic Studies Logo
Ancient World Logo
Canadian Studies Logo
ESC Logo
Journalism Logo
Linguistics Logo
Medieval Studies Logo
Renaissance Logo
Film Studies Logo