Head Movement and the Minimalist Program

Ian Roberts

in The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Minimalism

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199549368
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

Head Movement and the Minimalist Program

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  • Linguistics
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology



This article discusses head dependencies. It begins by recapitulating the essentials of the analysis of head movement as it was largely agreed on in mainstream syntactic theory by the late 1980s. This approach was in essence unaltered in the earlier versions of minimalism. Section 9.3 considers the reasons that led Chomsky to suggest excluding head movement from the core operations of the narrow syntax. Section 9.4 reviews the various alternatives to the earlier conception of narrow-syntactic head movement that have been put forward: phonetic form movement, remnant phrasal-category movement, and ‘reprojective movement’, focusing on a case study of each alternative. Finally, Section 9.5 considers the conceptual status of head movement in relation to the general goals of the minimalist program.

Keywords: head dependencies; syntactic theory; minimalism; Chomsky; narrow syntax; phonetic form movement; phrasal-category movement; reprojective movement

Article.  11368 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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