Features in Minimalist Syntax
Peter Svenonius, David Adger
February 2010

We delineate some core conceptual issues that the notion of feature raises in Minimalist approaches to syntax. We distinguish between syntax-internal features and features which have effects at the interfaces. We highlight a distinction between (positionally motivated) categorial features and (cross-classificatory) non-categorial features. We also propose a distinction between first-order features and second-order features (properties of features), and between second-order features which are fixed for a given language (parameters) and second-order features which vary from one token of a feature to another (variable second order features). With these distinctions in place, we argue that, given Inclusiveness, dependencies in syntax must be encoded by variable second order features, such as strength, uninterpretability, or the property of lacking a value, so strict privativity is too strong a constraint on such feature systems. We also explore the various feature theories that emerge from the conceptual distinctions we draw, highlighting the need for a restrictive but optimal theory of second as well as first order features.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/000825
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: submitted to the Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Minimalism
keywords: features, minimalism, privative, checking, uninterpretable, uninterpretability, feature value, feature valuation, unvalued, attribute-value matrix, hpsg, syntax
previous versions: v1 [February 2009]
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