Nominal Modification

The Research Training Group on Nominal Modification at the Goethe University Frankfurt

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Colloquium: David Adger

On Tuesday, January 29th, at 4pm in SH 3.104, Professor David Adger (Queen Mary University of London) will be giving a talk in the GK colloquium.

Title: Meaningless Movements in the Noun Phrase


There has been much discussion recently about the status of Head Movement: is it syntactic, and expected to feed meaning, or morphological, and hence expected to feed only order (Hall 2015, Harizanov and Gribanova 2018). There has been less discussion about the status of `word order movements’, but the same theoretical issues arise (Adger 2013). In this talk, I want to revisit the issue of roll-up movement, from the perspective of what kind of a mapping we expect to hold between the syntax and semantics. I argue for a specific constraint, that requires the syntax to be designed to provide the semantic interface with exactly the representations it needs and no more, and develop a theoretical model of noun phrase structure that provides this. I exemplify the ideas through a study of the broad typology of word order in the noun phrase (Greenberg 1963), arguing that order is determined not by a typology of movement operations (Cinque 2005), or by head-modifier ordering parameters interacting with constrained movement operations (Abels and Neeleman 2012), but rather by whether an apparent modifier is to be analysed as a head or a specifier, inducing a kind of `flipped’ structure, reminiscent of Brody and Szabolcsi (2003). Meaningless movements for word order reasons are, in this system, impossible, which I argue is the right result.

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