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Syntax Interface Lectures Utrecht


8 October 2018
16:00 - 17:00
Room 0.19 (A.W. De Grootkamer), Trans 10

Heimir van der Feest Viðarsson (The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies / University of Iceland)

Violating V2 with two heads (or more): evidence from a polycephalous variety of insular Scandinavian

Multi-headedness is a well-established feature of Icelandic in the literature on verb raising to the (split) inflectional domain (Bobaljik and Thráinsson 1998, Bobaljik 2002, Thráinsson 2010, 2011, Angantýsson 2007, 2011). Since the 1980s, scholars have tried to argue for a causal relationship between the richness of inflectional morphology and the IP/TP-internal structural position of the finite verb, recently defended for the Indo-European languages by Koeneman and Zeijlstra (2014) and by Tvica (2017) for languages beyond IE. In this paper I review some of the problems that arise for the Rich Agreement Hypothesis in the context of Icelandic from a broad, historical perspective. I focus on variation in verb raising in relation to embedded clause structure, in particular the root vs. non-root distinction among different types of declaratives (Hooper and Thompson 1973, Meinunger 2004, Julien 2008) and adverbial clauses (Haegeman 2012, Frey 2012), and the consequences thereof for the analysis of the left periphery of the subclause. It will be shown that Icelandic provides some evidence for a richly articulated functional sequence (along the lines of Rizzi 2004, Haegeman 2012, Rizzi and Cinque 2016) and may contradict the RAH by not conforming to traditional “V-to-I” diagnostics. This, in turn, leads to a violation of the V2 constraint, arguably in more than one way. More specifically, there is evidence that root-like environments, i.e. subclauses allowing main clause phenomena, have a stronger disposition for V2 than non-root environments, and vice versa. The literature partly acknowledges this with regard to relative clauses and certain adverbial clauses but hitherto not with regard to declaratives. A word of caution is in order here, as den Besten (1977:3) asserted when he claimed that “mere data never decide a theoretical debate”; some of the arguments laid out in this paper are indeed theory-internal and do not necessarily all hold if the shorthand labels CP, IP-TP, VP are treated as atomic.


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