What is sent to spell-out is phases, not phasal complements

Željko Bošković


An appealing property of the phase theory is that it is relevant to many phenomena, i.e. many domain-based mechanisms are stated in terms of phases. However, although phasal complements have no theoretical status in the phase theory (only phases do), they are taken to define spell-out units. This paper argues for an approach where phases define spell-out domains, which means that what is sent to spell-out is the phase itself. Several arguments to this effect are presented regarding syntax phonology interaction (in particular, encliticization in Bulgarian and Arabic, stress assignment in German and English, raddoppiamento fonosintattico in Abruzzese, and tone sandhi in Taiwanese), as well as more theoretical issues such as labeling. The assumption, however, has significant consequences for successive-cyclic movement. If phases are sent to spell-out and what is sent to spell-out is inaccessible to the syntax, successive-cyclic movement cannot target phases. Under the account argued for here, successive-cyclic movement therefore does not proceed via phases (i.e. phasal edges). As a result, the account also eliminates the PIC.


locality of movement, phases, the Phase-Impenetrability Condition, stress assignment, syntax-phonology interface

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4312/linguistica.56.1.25-66


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Ljubljana University Press, Faculty of Arts
(Znanstvena založba Filozofske fakultete Univerze v Ljubljani) 

Print ISSN: 0024-3922
Online ISSN: 2350-420X