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Events, Islands, and Cyclicity

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Theresa Biberauer.

Events, Islands, and Cyclicity

Abstract: This talk comes in three parts, and has three aims:

A) A novel characterisation of adjunct island phenomena in terms of event structure, which accounts not only for the existence of many grammatical cases of extraction from adjuncts in English, but also for the sensitivity of patterns of extraction from adjuncts to aspectual class, in terms of both acceptability and interpretation (1). This semantic account still maintains some robust generalisations, such as the impossibility of extraction from tensed adjuncts (2).

(1a) What did John drive Mary crazy [whistling t]? [FINE]

(1b) What did John arrive [whistling t]? [FINE]

(1c) What does John work [whistling t]? [BAD]

(1d) Which of these magic hats does John know Georgian [wearing t]? [BAD]

(2) What did John drive Mary crazy [because he whistled t]? [BAD]

B) An extension of the event-structural condition proposed in part A to cover factive island phenomena. The impossibility of extraction from a factive complement is related to the fact that such a complement is presupposed (3a), while the complement of a bridge verb is not (3b).

(3a) Who did John regret [that Mary kissed t]? [BAD]

(3b) Who did John say [that Mary kissed t]? [FINE]

C) An argument for a cyclic model of the grammar in which the output of the syntactic component is passed to the semantics after every clause, or after every step of wh-movement. I show that if we attempt to apply the event-structural condition from part A to the bridge verb structures from part B in a global fashion, we incorrectly predict extraction from any adjunct embedded under a bridge verb to be possible (4).

(4) What did Bill say [t’ that John drove Mary crazy [because he whistled t]]? [BAD]

This problem evaporates if we check the event structural condition from part A after the intermediate movement step in (4), suggesting a model of the grammar incorporating some version of cyclic spell-out.

This talk is part of the SyntaxLab series.

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