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On argument displacement in English and Scandinavian

Publiceringsår: 2006
Språk: Engelska
Sidor: 1-69
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Working Papers in Scandinavian Syntax
Nummer: 77
Dokumenttyp: Artikel i tidskrift
Förlag: Scandinavian language department, Lund university


The displacement operations that Chomsky (1999) terms ‘themati¬zation/extraction’ and takes to be phonological of nature, are truly syntactical operations.

Concerning leftward displacement, I add another argument for its syntactic nature to those already known from the literature. My argument is based on the behaviour of Mainland Scandinavian bare singular nominals, which neither move to Spec-IP or undergo left¬ward displacement. Both facts can be seen as consequences of an inability to appear in subject positions.

Rightward displacement, unlike leftward displacement, is con¬nected to discourse functions, which suggests that we are dealing with a syntactic phenomenon. My proposal is that English and Scan¬dinavian constructions with clause-final sub¬jects can be de¬rived by moving the subject to a Spec position in the CP domain, and then raising the remainder of the clause across the subject to an even higher CP position.

The differences between English constructions with clause-final subjects and their Scandinavian counterparts can be derived from the properties of the respective expletives. While the English there can be the partial spellout of a subject copy, Scandinavian expletives are always syntactic elements in their own right. It follows that in Scandinavian, it is possible to wh-move the associate of an exple¬tive. The unavailablity of such operations in English can¬not then be explained with reference to phonology, as Chomsky does.

Finally, ‘transitive expletive’ constructions, in English and Nor¬wegian, do not obligatorily involve rightward displacement of an argument, which Chomsky (1999) claims they do. Instead, the word order in question displays two internal arguments surfacing in their base generated order.


  • Languages and Literature
  • argument displacement
  • syntactic movement
  • C-domain
  • English
  • Scandinavian


  • GRIMM-lup-obsolete
  • ISSN: 1100-097X

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