Phasehood and Phi-Intervention
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This dissertation investigates the notion of phases in syntactic theory, and offers a reanalysis of certain phases as instances of phi(φ)-intervention. Under the standard view, phases are syntactic structures that, according to the Phase Impenetrability Condition, are opaque to operations originating outside of the phase (Chomsky, 2000; 2001). Phasehood was linked to certain heads such as C and (transitive) v, but several issues arise once the empirical domain is broadened beyond English. As more work has turned to unrelated languages, a less stipulative alternative has presented itself: phases are intervention effects, and are reducible to a more general locality issue. In Rackowski and Richards’ (2005) account of Tagalog wh-movement, for example, CPs act as phases because they constitute the closest goal. In Halpert’s (2019) account of Zulu hyper-raising, CPs do not act as phases due to the cyclic nature of Agree. In Keine’s (2017) account of Hindi long-distance agreement, vPs do not act as phases, which I argue is because v is not a φ-goal. In Georgian, vPs act as phases because v0, in contrast, is a φ-goal (as I will argue in this thesis). These languages show that XPs act as phases only when they are potential goals for a syntactic operation. These languages also illustrate two ways of diagnosing phasehood as φ-intervention: via movement out of the domain, and via agreement into the domain. These results suggest that phasehood is an epiphenomenon, and that the interior of the ‘phase’ is accessible even after the phase is complete. In this dissertation, I argue that certain instances of phasehood derive from the ‘phase’ head bearing a φ-probe: the φ-features on the probe intervene for φ-agreement, which results in phase-like effects. The empirical data in favour this claim comes from the Georgian agreement system. I show that subjects in Georgian are base-generated in different positions, depending on whether they fall under the basic agreement paradigm or the inverse agreement paradigm. In the basic, subjects are introduced above v and are the closest goal for Agree operations that originate outside the vP domain. In the inverse, subjects are introduced below v; in this case, the φ-features that are associated with the φ-probe on v constitute the closest goal for Agree.