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Noun phrase licensing and interpretation

Jeffrey Thomas Runner, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The central claim of this thesis is that direct objects in English move overtly to a Case position external to VP. This proposal differs from the standard GB (e.g. Chomsky 1981) approach in which the verb assigns Case to the direct object within VP. This proposal also differs from the current Minimalist (Chomsky 1993) approach in which the direct object is in VP in the overt syntax only moving to a VP-external Case position at LF. The first four chapters outline this basic hypothesis, concentrating on standard direct objects in English. The evidence is of various sorts: (1) at LF, objects asymmetrically c-command VP and other VP-internal material; (2) overtly the main verb and the direct object are external to a constituent containing the remainder of the VP material, analyzed as VP itself; (3) adverb placement distinguishes between functional and lexical projections providing further support for the present proposal over a VP shell account (Larson 1988). The subsequent two chapters examine other types of "object" construction: ECM and the double object construction. The sorts of evidence adduced for the preceding claims show the ECM subject as well as both objects of the double object construction to appear overtly in VP-external AGRo specifiers, further supporting a Case-checking account invoking functional specifiers. The final two chapters explore the differences between LF and PF NP positions. There various LF "lowering" phenomena are explained by exploiting the copy and delete strategy for movement (Chomsky 1993). This account leads to an examination of copying and deleting and a proposal for the mechanics of such an account. There insertion and stylistic inversion are provided a new account by putting together the parts of the analysis proposed here. An interesting conclusion reached in this thesis is that there is no A-movement at LF in English. In fact, if copying is interpreted as proposed here (following Marantz 1994), there can be no A-movement at LF universally. The differences between pre-SPLIT and LF "movement", then, follow from the different strategies exploited at these levels, only the former exhibiting "reconstruction" effects due to using the copy and delete strategy.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Runner, Jeffrey Thomas, "Noun phrase licensing and interpretation" (1995). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9606556.