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Loss of Movement and Labeling: Grammatical Pressure and Diachronic Change
Marcin Dadan
109-114 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


Obligatory wh-fronting in Old Japanese (Watanabe 2002), Archaic Chinese (Aldridge 2010), or Vedic Sanskrit (Hale 1987) stands in contrast with modern Japanese, Chinese, or Indic languages like Hindi. Similarly, obligatoriness of wh-movement in Latin contrasts with modern Romance languages like Spanish (Reglero 2004), Brazilian Portuguese (Zocca DeRoma 2011) or French (Bošković 2015), which all have optional wh-in-situ. I argue that this cross-linguistic trend to lose wh-movement diachronically can be explained by a preference for syntactic labeling in a head-complement configuration (Chomsky 2013, 2015). This allows us to capture diachronically attested loss of movement as a consequence of the loss of specifiers created by phrasal movement. Postulated dispreference for feature-sharing makes the spec-head configuration diachronically fragile and subject to reanalysis. I extend the analysis to head movement and show how dispreference for feature-sharing may account for the loss of movement in general.

Published in

Proceedings of the 36th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Richard Stockwell, Maura O'Leary, Zhongshi Xu, and Z.L. Zhou
Table of contents
Printed edition: $395.00