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A/A-bar chain uniformity

Rejean Canac Marquis, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation defends a theory of strict Chain Uniformity based on the A/A-bar distinction, in part in response to increasing criticism towards the A/A-bar distinction. The problems originated with the multiplication of new functional categories, whereby new positions were created without any provision to determine their A/A-bar status. The problem was compounded by mounting evidence that specifiers of functional categories could be used either as A or A-bar. Further, serious criticisms came from the alleged simultaneous A/A-bar properties of scrambled positions ('scrambling paradoxes'). Alternative typologies have been proposed (Webelhuth 1988, Chomsky 1989, Deprez 1991, Saito 1991, and others) which condemn the A/A-bar distinction. This thesis advocates that the A/A-bar distinction per se is perfectly adequate, but its current implementation requires major modifications. It is argued that all positions within functional categories are inherently undetermined w.r.t. their A/A-bar status. Given strict Chain Uniformity, a chain-contextual determination of these positions is obtained, i.e. their A/A-bar status is subsumed under algorithms of chain formation. This eliminates any exponential complexity related to increasing functional categories, yet allows the cross-linguistic flexibility the A/A-bar distinction previously lacked. Operator-variable chains are decomposed in two uniform chains connected through Agreement-chain formation, a strategy independently required for Null Operator Constructions which is here extended to AgrPs. AgrPs are thus the interface between A and A-bar chains, and an analysis of past-participle agreement in French is developed in that perspective. Chapter 2 proposes a review of issues on Bounding theory relevent to Chain formation and the A/A-bar distinction. A theory of Weak and Weakest crossover effects which transcends the A/A-bar Chain distinction is developed in chapter 4. Chapter 5 proposes a strict A/A-bar Chain Uniformity approach to scrambling paradoxes which drastically reduces the gap between scrambling and non-scrambling languages. Chapter 6 is devoted to Null Operator Constructions in English and maintains that Tough movement and Purpose clauses shows properties typical of A-movement, and require a different treatment from other NOCs. The analysis capitalizes on the Unified Chain definition which encompasses all chain types by eliminating Case as a defining property of any chain, A-chains in particular.

Subject Area

Linguistics|Language|Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Canac Marquis, Rejean, "A/A-bar chain uniformity" (1994). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9434462.