A number of languages have been argued to establish basic word order by means of VP-fronting (e.g., Kayne 1994, Massam 2001). However, many such analyses overgenerate: some material thought to be VP-internal never appears fronted and must apparently always be stranded (Chung 2005, Massam 2010). Here, I provide novel evidence for VP-fronting in an SVO language, the understudied Polynesian outlier Imere (Vanuatu), motivated by the placement of adverbial particles. But this analysis too faces the stranding problem: VP-fronting cannot drag along any DPs, PPs, or CPs. To solve this issue, I propose that VP-fronting is accompanied by distributed deletion (Fanselow and Ćavar 2001), driven by a constraint that favors realizing only the verb. I extend this analysis to eight other VP-fronting languages, from five language families. In all these languages, what remains in the fronted VP is a structurally reduced dependent, like an adverbial particle or a determinerless object. Building on Clemens 2014, 2019, I adopt a constraint that requires dependents of a head that spell out in the same phase to remain adjacent, thus surviving distributed deletion.
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November 28 2022
Constraining Predicate Fronting
In Special Collection: CogNet
Coppe van Urk
Online ISSN: 1530-9150
Print ISSN: 0024-3892
© 2022 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Linguistic Inquiry 1–47.
Coppe van Urk; Constraining Predicate Fronting. Linguistic Inquiry 2022; doi: https://doi.org/10.1162/ling_a_00466
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