Linguistics in Göttingen - A platform for empirical and theoretical linguistics

Guido Mensching (Göttingen): Extraction from DP in French: Towards a Minimalist Approach

An old syntactic problem is the mechanism by which constituents (usally arguments of nouns) can be extracted from the NP (DP) and why this extraction is sometimes blocked. This issue has seen long discussions within Romance and particular French generative linguistics during the 1980s and 1990s, when it became fashionable to explain the impossibility of extractions from the NP by means of a thematic hierachy, for cases in which more than one argument is present. After that time, it was mostly scholars of HPSG who addressed this issue for French, so that a minimalist interpretation is still missing. In my talk, I will adopt a point of of view, according to which a noun can have only one argument and several "pseudo-arguments", which are, in reality, adjuncts (Kolliakou 1999). For explaining the extraction of the argument and the prohibition to extract an adjuncht from the DP, I will use a phase-based approach. I will show that the basic mechanism consists in the existence of two probes in the D° head, one of which is responsible for assigning abstract genitive to the nouns argument and - in appropriate syntactic contexts - can yield movement to [Spec,DP], whih is the edge of a phase. I will explicitly argue against generalized edge features (Chomsky 2005 et seq.), which cannot explain the construction or language specific variation at stake.