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Auteur: Michelle SHEEHAN

Co-Auteur(s): Theresa BIBERAUER, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom Ian ROBERTS, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

Mafioso Parameters and the Limits of Syntactic Variation

Abstract/Résumé: We build on recent work proposing non-UG-specified, emergent parameter hierarchies (Roberts 2012), arguing that a system of this kind not only addresses objections levelled against earlier formulations of parameters (Newmeyer 2005, Haspelmath 2008, Boeckx 2010), but also potentially offers a suitably restrictive theory of the nature and limits of syntactic variation. Our focus is one aspect of the proposed parametric hierarchies, the so-called Mafioso Effect by which certain parametric options are simply ‘irresistible’. Following Gianollo, Guardiano & Longobardi (2008), we assume acquisition to entail i.a. the determination of which features are grammaticalised (i.e. participate in Probe/Goal relations) in a given language, and how these formal features interact with movement diacritics. The ‘sequence’ in which these facts are established is guided by restricted UG-specified elements (e.g. the availability of a [uF]/[iF] distinction, a movement diacritic, and the operations Merge and Agree) and third-factor-imposed acquisition strategies, including a version of Roberts and Roussou’s (2003) Feature Economy/FE and Roberts’ (2007) Input Generalization/IG. By the former, acquirers posit as few formal features as possible; by the latter, they assume the minimum number of distinct elements/operations compatible with the PLD, maximally generalising patterns in the input. The remainder of the presentation considers four cases studies of Mafioso Effects. The first example is a version of Kayne's (1994) Linear Correspondence Axiom (LCA), which, we argue, results from processing pressures. The second example considers the lack of partial negative concord, which we argue is ruled out on PLD grounds. Our third example is verb movement. Here, we show that two distinct parameter settings lead to indistinguishable entities, since the only surface difference between TMA particles – first-merged in the T-field - and auxiliaries – first-merged in v - is inflection. Finally, we consider the apparent non-existence of syntactically ergative split-S languages. Building on the analysis of ergativity in Aldridge (2008) and Coon, Mateo Pedro & Preminger (2011), this, we argue, stems from the fact that an EPP feature associated with unergative little v can never be satisfied, leading to a doomed derivation.