Monday, October 21, 2019

A Smuggling Approach to the Adjunct/Argument Asymmetry

In this mini-squib, I sketch an approach to the adjunct/argument asymmetry that is based on smuggling. 

A well-known contrast in the locality literature is that D-linked arguments can more easily escape islands than adjuncts (on the precise distinction between elements that can be extracted from islands and those that cannot, see Rizzi 1990 and Postal 1998, amongst many others):

?Which picture do you wonder whether John really likes <which picture>?
*How do you wonder whether John fixed the car <how>?

            Here I outline an approach to this contrast based on smuggling. I propose that a D-linked wh-phrase such as (1a) can be moved first as a topic to an embedded topic position, and then from there, undergo wh-movement to the matrix Spec CP, as illustrated in the following:

[Which picture]1 do you wonder [TopP <DP1[wh]> Top [whether … <DP1[wh]>]]

            In the above derivation, DP undergoes A’-movement to Spec TopP of the embedded clause. Intervening wh-words like whether generally do not block movement to Spec TopP (see Rizzi 1997: 291).  In this case what is being smuggled is the wh-feature in the DP. Then the matrix Int (Interrogative) head probes DP[wh], which undergoes A’-movement to Spec IntP.
            A paraphrase for the structure in (2) is the following:

Which picture is such that you wonder the following: as for that picture, does John like it?

Assuming that adjuncts such as how cannot act as topics, no such smuggling step is available for (1b). The matrix Int head probes for how, but encounters a phase boundary (the embedded CP) and the wh-word whether, which blocks Int from probing any further by the MLC.
Why can how not act as an embedded topic in (1b)? We following Postal (1998: 24-26) in assuming that topics cannot be moved from anti-pronominal contexts, and furthermore that the underlying position of an adjunct is an anti-pronominal context.
            In the typical case of smuggling (see Collins 2005, and the introduction of Belletti and Collins forthcoming), a constituent YP containing XP undergoes movement, followed by moving of XP out of YP. The example of smuggling in (2) is different in that there is no movement of XP from YP (the DP[wh]). But still according to the definition of Collins 2005, (2) is a case of smuggling since without topicalization, the wh-feature cannot be probed by the matrix Int head.
            On other cases of smuggling involving A’-movement see Hicks 2009 and Belletti and Collins (forthcoming).

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