[Lingtyp] Right node raising cross-linguistically

Adam Singerman adamsingerman at uchicago.edu
Wed Sep 29 16:23:30 UTC 2021

Dear Adam,

I don't believe that the RNR issue is as damning for syntactic theory
as you do (this shouldn't surprise anyone who's talked with the both
of us, as we generally have different takes on the successes/failures
of syntactic theory). On the contrary, I think the RNR issue nicely
illustrates the fact that there will be empirical generalizations in
individual languages that require some kind of formalization to be
stated in the first place, whatever the ultimate verdict is on the
formal apparatus that the generalizations are first couched in. Even
if we take Chaves's analysis as correct (namely, that RNR is really
the conflation of three separate phenomena: VP/N' deletion,
extraposition, backward periphery deletion), we will still need a
formal apparatus to define these phenomena. A formal syntactician
would probably say that the crosslinguistic version of RNR is not
capturable as a comparative concept in the sense of Haspelmath because
what defines RNR — whether it's taken to be a phenomenon in of itself
or a conflation of three separate phenomena, as Chaves argues — is
still ultimately formal. So this is probably a good example of how
there are parts of speakers' linguistic competence which need to be
described, analyzed and theorized, but which do not lend themselves in
an obvious way to cross-linguistic comparison outside of a formal
framework. Unless of course I have misunderstood Martin's point about
comparative concepts...?


More information about the Lingtyp mailing list