Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton October 3, 2017

Intervention in tough-constructions revisited

Stefan Keine and Ethan Poole
From the journal The Linguistic Review

Abstract

In this paper, we subject to closer scrutiny one particularly influential recent argument in favour of the long-movement analysis of tough-constructions. Hartman (2011, 2012a, 2012b) discovered that experiencer PPs lead to ungrammaticality in tough-constructions, but not in expletive constructions. He attributes this ungrammaticality to defective intervention of A-movement, a movement step crucially postulated only in the long-movement analysis. He takes this as evidence that tough-constructions are derived via long movement. We make the novel observation that a PP intervention effect analogous to that in tough-constructions also arises in constructions that do not involve A-movement, namely pretty-predicate constructions and gapped degree phrases. Consequently, the intervention effect does not provide an argument for an A-movement step in tough-constructions or for the long-movement analysis, but rather for the base-generation analysis. We develop a uniform account of the intervention effects as a semantic-type mismatch. In particular, we propose that what unifies tough-constructions, pretty-predicate constructions, and gapped degree phrases is that they all have an embedded clause that is a null-operator structure. Introducing an experiencer PP into these constructions creates an irresolvable semantic-type mismatch. As such, we argue for a reassessment of what appears to be a syntactic locality constraint as an incompatibility in the semantic composition.

Acknowledgments

Thanks to two anonymous reviewers for extensive comments and valuable suggestions, which helped to improve the paper. We also benefited from helpful discussion with Rajesh Bhatt, Seth Cable, Alex Drummond, Jeremy Hartman, Tim Hunter, Kyle Johnson, Angelika Kratzer, Howard Lasnik, Nicholas Longenbaugh, Jon Ander Mendia, Barbara Partee, Bernhard Schwarz, and Peggy Speas. This work was presented at GLOW 38 and NELS 46, and we thank the audiences for their questions and comments. The second author is supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program under NSF DGE-1451512.

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Published Online: 2017-10-3
Published in Print: 2017-10-26

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