In the better-developed sciences it is the departures from symmetry rather than the symmetries that are typically taken to be in need of explanation. Mirror theory is an attempt to look at some of the central properties of syntactic representations in this spirit.

The core hypothesis of this theory is that in syntactic representations complementation expresses morphological structure: X is the complement of Y only if Y-X form a morphological unit'a word. A second central assumption is the elimination of phrasal projection: a head X in a syntactic tree should be taken to ambiguously represent both the zero-level head(s) and its (their) associated phrasal node(s).

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