This paper uses participle preposing, a non-canonical word in which the complement of progressive or passive be appears to the left of be, to illuminate the relationship between syntax and information structure, concluding that discourse-sensitive features must be represented in the syntax in order to drive movement. The argument begins with a novel syntactic analysis of participle preposing that involves topic-driven movement of a vP to SpecTP followed by a subsequent movement of that constituent to SpecCP. The role of topicality in the analysis is supported by data from a corpus investigation. More specifically, this investigation reveals that preposing signals that the interpretation of the fronted vP must contain material that is no less familiar than the material in the postverbal subject. The syntactic and pragmatic behavior of participle preposing deomonstrates that discourse restrictions on the use of a construction must be directly encoded in the syntax, as information-structure sensitive features drive movement that would otherwise induce a minimality violation. The distribution of participle preposing, then, is evidence that vP movement to SpecTP must be motivation by information-structural properties, with information-structure-sensitive features visible to the syntactic derivation. The correct way of looking at the interpretation of these feautres may be that the formal syntactic feature has associated with it a use condition that has access to the dynamics of the discourse.
Proceedings of the 31st West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Robert E. Santana-LaBarge
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