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Operational opacity at the clausal middlefield

Asia Pietraszko, University of Rochester

Wed, 3/20 · 4:30 pm6:00 pm · 1-S-5 Green Hall

Program in Linguistics

Early formulations of Phase Theory posit that each clause consists of two locality domains (phases): the complete clause (CP) and a clause internal domain located roughly around vP. Syntactic evidence for the phasehood of CP comes from two types of phenomena: footprints of successive cyclic movement and operational opacity. In contrast, evidence for a clause-internal phase has primarily come from successive cyclic movement (i.a. Legate 2003, Aldridge 2008, Bennett et al. 2012, van Urk 2015). Operational opacity is not observed at vP, a category notoriously transparent for syntactic relations. This contrast between CP and vP has led some researchers to conclude that only CP is a phase and that intermediate movement through the edge of vP must be explained differently. This talk presents the missing type of evidence, from operational opacity, for the clause-internal phase hypothesis. In particular, I argue that VoiceP in Zimbabwean Ndebele is opaque for A-movement and phi-agreement. A VoiceP-external probe can only access a VoiceP-internal goal if the goal moves to Spec,VoiceP, and not otherwise. The talk additionally motivates the assumption that successive cyclic movement, both A and A-bar, is feature-driven. This is based on the observation that all movement out of VoiceP in Ndebele is blocked when Voice is independently shown to lack a movement-triggering feature. I conclude with some thoughts on why operational opacity is much easier to detect at a CP boundary than at the clausal middlefield.

Asia Pietraszko is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Rochester. She received her PhD from the University of Chicago Linguistics Department. She is the director of the Field Syntax Lab at the University of Rochester and works in syntax and morphology, with a focus on Bantu languages. She studies questions related to clausal architecture and the processes that underlie structure building, such as selection and movement. Topics she’s worked on include verbal periphrasis, head-movement and do-support, A-movement, clausal embedding and nominalization, and backward control.

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