In this book, I examined various aspects of the distribution of arguments in the Germanic languages. Two main points have emerged from our discussion. First, I proposed that the basic distributional properties of arguments are determined by their categorial status. This claim may not be surprising at first sight because the distribution of elements has been one of the standard criteria for identifying different types of syntactic categories. However, the proposals made in this book suggest that categorial properties play a much more important role for the status and the distribution of the various components within a clause than has traditionally been assumed. More precisely, I proposed that the distribution of elements within a clause is determined by a requirement according to which the feature matrices of specific categories have to be licensed in the course of a derivation. Within a Minimalist feature checking framework (cf. in particular Chomsky 1995), this licensing requirement can be formulated in terms of categorial feature matrices whose content is determined through checking during a derivation. Thus, for an element to be nominal, it has to eliminate (check) verbal features from its categorial feature matrix and, vice versa, for a verbal element to be verbal, the derivation has to eliminate nominal features from the categorial feature matrix. Alternatively, feature matrices can be argued to be licensed within a syntactic structure by a mechanism which is reminiscent of the chemical model of covalent bonding. These licensing requirements (categorial feature checking or bonding) then account for the basic distributional properties of arguments within a clause and they also explain the occurrence of semantically empty nominal elements (expletives) in certain contexts. As I showed, an important consequence of this approach is that two principles which have traditionally been used in the generative literature for the analysis of the syntax of A-positions (Case Filter, Extended Projection Principle) can be eliminated from the grammar, and their effects can be derived from the categorial feature specifications of different syntactic categories and in particular from the interaction between nominal and verbal elements. This is a desirable result since both the Case Filter and the Extended Projection Principle have never been derived in a satisfactory way and thus have had the status of pure stipulations within the Government and Binding framework and Minimalism. The approach proposed in this book eliminates these stipulations by relating their apparent effects to properties of independently motivated features, i.e, of categorial features.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric Haeberli
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.University of ReadingUK
  2. 2.University of GenevaSwitzerland

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