Labels from X-Bar Theory to Phrase Structure Theory

Carlo Cecchetto and Caterina Donati

in (Re)labeling

Published by The MIT Press

Published in print January 2015 | ISBN: 9780262028721
Published online September 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780262327220 | DOI:
Labels from X-Bar Theory to Phrase Structure Theory

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In Chapter 2, we review the history of recent phrase structure theory, focusing on the X-bar schema and the departure from it in early Minimalist work. We discuss the ‘symmetry problem’, namely the fact that a Minimalist notion of Merge is necessarily symmetric, a fact that is at odds with what appears to be needed for derivations to work, namely labeled syntactic objects. We claim that the fundamental asymmetry of most syntactic objects does not come from Merge itself, but from the independent operation of Probing, by which a feature (the Probe) requires another feature (the Goal). When Merge results from a probing operation, it yields a labeled syntactic object. Words are special in that they are imtrinsic probes: they can always provide the label, namely project. Crucially, even when words are internally merged, they can project. This is what we call relabeling.

Keywords: Phrase Structure; Bare Phrase Structure; Labeling; Probing; symmetry

Chapter.  8217 words. 

Subjects: Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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