In this article I investigate certain phenomena relating to superiority, the Empty Category Principle (ECP), and scope. I propose a chain-based scope-marking convention and a new analysis of adjunction, and hypothesize that English is a covert verb-second grammar. The analysis is couched within checking theory and ultimately within the bare theory of phrase structure. I propose category-neutral(-ized) LF representations, displaying VP-recursion but lacking functional heads and their projections, and I suggest that this, in turn, allows significant simplification of index-sensitive head government conditions appearing in many contemporary formulations of the ECP.

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