This article proposes a new base generation account of free constituent order. Scrambling as movement is incompatible with central assumptions of the Minimalist Program:it cannot involve the checking of strong categorial features. Concentrating on German, the article refutes the standard empirical arguments for scrambling and shows that free constituent order is a base-generated phenomenon. The article proposes that °-role assignment is a by-product of checking the formal features of arguments. When checking features are strong, word order is fixed; when checking features are weak, free constituent order arises owing to a relativized interpretation of the Minimal Link Condition.

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