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The Linguistic Review

Editor-in-Chief: van der Hulst, Harry

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Volume 31, Issue 1


Deriving Feature Inheritance from the Copy Theory of Movement

Ángel J. Gallego
Published Online: 2014-03-22 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/tlr-2013-0021


This paper recasts Chomsky's (2007, 2008) Feature Inheritance, arguing that the syntactic relation between phase heads and non-phase heads must be regarded as that of identity: Non-phase heads are (copies of) phase heads. From this perspective, e.g., C and T are one and the very same unit in the lexicon, a unit that can (and sometimes must) undergo a process of Internal Merge (IM) during the derivation, creating a discontinuous object (i.e., a non-trivial chain) that gives rise to the – apparent – non-phase head / phase head distinction. The analysis has several consequences. Firstly, it provides an explanation for the fact that the features of phases heads are inherited by non-phase heads (under a copy-based approach, this is simply automatic). Secondly, it accounts for the functioning of phase and non-phase heads `as a unit' in the Case-agreement systems (as argued by Chomsky 2004, Epstein et al. 2012). Thirdly, since non-phase heads are copies of phase heads, it also follows that they need not be seen as feature-less elements in the lexicon (as mere feature receptacles, cf. Richards 2007). Fourthly, this approach allows us to dispense with the idea that either C and T trigger simultaneous operations (Chomsky 2008), or that the operations triggered by T are actually driven by C (derivatively); this is welcome, since both alternatives involve a restricted (phase-based) margin of countercyclicity. Finally, the present analysis makes it possible to dispense with Feature Inheritance, understood as a brandnew, UG enriching, feature-depriving mechanism. Rejecting this commonly accepted view of Feature Inheritance takes into account the problems attributed to feature-movement in the syntax (Chomsky's 1995 Move F).

Keywords: copy theory of movement; discontinuous categories; feature inheritance; non-trivial chain; phase theory

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Published Online: 2014-03-22

Published in Print: 2014-03-01

Citation Information: The Linguistic Review, Volume 31, Issue 1, Pages 41–71, ISSN (Online) 1613-3676, ISSN (Print) 0167-6318, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/tlr-2013-0021.

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