[Lingtyp] 'basic word order' in the MP

Kilu von Prince kilu.von.prince at hu-berlin.de
Thu Mar 24 10:47:44 UTC 2016

Yes, sorry, "antisymmetry" was what I meant, not "asymmetry". -- Kilu

On Thu, Mar 24, 2016 at 9:55 AM, Nigel Vincent <
nigel.vincent at manchester.ac.uk> wrote:

> I guess mention should be made too of Kayne's antisymmetry hypothesis,
> which was developed about the same time as the MP and which makes a clear
> presumption about which order is to be taken as basic within UG. Other
> orders have to be derived by movement.
> Nigel
> Professor Nigel Vincent, FBA MAE
> Professor Emeritus of General & Romance Linguistics
> The University of Manchester
> Linguistics & English Language
> School of Arts, Languages and Cultures
> The University of Manchester
> Manchester M13 9PL
> UK
> http://staffprofiles.humanities.manchester.ac.uk/Profile.aspx?Id=nigel.vincent
> ------------------------------
> *From:* Lingtyp [lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org] on behalf of
> Kilu von Prince [watasenia at gmail.com]
> *Sent:* Thursday, March 24, 2016 8:30 AM
> *To:* fjn at uw.edu
> *Subject:* Re: [Lingtyp] 'basic word order' in the MP
> Hi Fritz,
> I think you are right, the MP does not really tell us much about the order
> of heads relative to their complements, but I think it does make some
> predictions about word order in general. For example, an order of VSO,
> where the verb and the object are separated by another constituent should
> have to involve more movement than an order of, for example, VOS and should
> therefore be more marked and typologically less frequent. This prediction
> is not borne out by the typological data in WALS and I'm not aware of any
> commentary on this.
> Having said that, the MP is by no means the favourite framework among
> generative syntactitians. Principles and Parameters are still quite popular
> and my impression is that many generative syntactitians who care about
> typology at all favour the asymmetry hypothesis, which is based on G&B. For
> recent contributions in that area, see Hubert Haider's work on head
> directionality. This approach was essentially inspired by typological
> word-order distributions and does a decent job of addressing them.
> Best,
> Kilu
> On Wed, Mar 23, 2016 at 9:56 PM, David Beck <dbeck at ualberta.ca> wrote:
>> Hi, Fritz
>> I haven’t really been tracking the theory much since the late ‘90s, but
>> I’m not sure that it is true that linearization does “take place” at PF,
>> since a tremendous amount of argumentation (pretty much all of it) in this
>> syntactic framework still depends on moving things around in the syntactic
>> tree (which I always understood to be pre-PF) to get the surface order. So
>> even though X-bar is offically gone, most of the papers I see still use the
>> same assumptions about binary branching and head-complement ordering at
>> D-structure, and use the same kind of movement rules (I guess it’s only one
>> kind these days, but it does pretty much the same job). These papers
>> generally argue for a particular phrase being moved or not in the syntactic
>> tree based on where it is linearized in the sentence.
>> But even if the final tree-structure before Spell-Out reflects the linear
>> order of the sentence, I think that your point is correct, ‘basic order’
>> isn’t going to be a very coherent or clearly defined concept, since
>> surface-order is going to be determined on a construction-specific basis
>> (depending on which heads have to move to check which phi-features, what
>> barriers there are in a given construction to the movements, which landing
>> sites are available, etc.). So Irish is VSO in a certain type of clause
>> because the requirements for feature-checking move V ahead of S, and that
>> movement might be blocked in another type of clause where the conditions
>> are different, or other conditions might move-S ahead of V in another
>> construction, etc. I would guess that the only way to postulate a “basic”
>> order for the language would be to talk in terms of the order that requires
>> the fewest movements, or requires the fewest “special” conditions
>> regulating movement (which is kind of the way everyone else does it, too).
>> David
>> > On Mar 23, 2016, at 1:47 PM, fjn at uw.edu wrote:
>> >
>> > Dear Lingtyp,
>> >
>> > I’m not sure how many formal linguists read this list, but some of you
>> might have thought about this issue or have seen a reference. Do you know
>> if anybody has taken on the question of 'basic word order' (VSO, OSV, etc.)
>> within the Minimalist Program? It is not obvious that it is still a
>> coherent notion. Given the abandonment of the level of D-structure and of
>> X-bar theory and given that it is generally assumed (right?) that
>> linearization takes place in PF, there is no obvious level or stage in the
>> grammar that would identify Irish as VSO, Japanese as SOV, etc. While the
>> mechanics of PF-syntax (at least to me) are quite murky, it seems like you
>> would have to introduce something like extrinsic ordering in that component
>> to postulate a 'basic order' for a particular language. For a language with
>> only one ordering of S, O and V there is no issue, but every language, I
>> think, allows more than one ordering.
>> >
>> > Any thoughts on all of this?
>> >
>> > Thanks,
>> >
>> > —fritz
>> >
>> > Frederick J. Newmeyer
>> > Professor Emeritus, University of Washington
>> > Adjunct Professor, U of British Columbia and Simon Fraser U
>> >
>> > _______________________________________________
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Dr. Kilu von Prince

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