Deriving the Functional Hierarchy
Peter Svenonius, Gillian Ramchand
March 2014

There is a tension between Chomsky's recent Minimalist theory and the cartographic program initiated by Cinque. Cinque's cartography argues for a large number of fine-grained categories organized in one or more universal Rich Functional Hierarchies (RFH). The subtlety of the evidence and the richness of the inventory virtually force an innatist approach. In contrast, Chomsky argues for a minimal role for UG (MUG), shifting the burden to extralinguistic cognition, learning, and what he calls third factor principles such as principles of efficient computation. In this paper we reconcile the austere MUG vision of Chomsky with the impressive empirical evidence that Cinque and others have presented for RFH. We argue (building on previous work) that some Cartographic work overstates the universality of the orders observed, and furthermore conflates several different sources of ordering. Ordering sources include scope, polarity, and semantic category. Once these factors are properly understood, there remains an irreduceable universal functional hierarchy, for example that which orders epistemic modality and tense over root modality and aspect, and that which orders the latter over argument structure and Aktionsart (as discussed in much previous work). This residual core functional hierarchy (CFH) is unexplained so far by work which follows MUG. Rather than simply stipulating the CFH as part of UG, we reconcile CFH with MUG by detailing what nonlinguistic cognition must look like in order for MUG to derive the CFH. We furthermore show how an individual language develops a language-specific RFH which is consistent with the universal CFH, illustrating with a detailed account of the English auxiliary system.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/002028
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: to appear in Language Sciences
keywords: functional hierarchy, functional categories, cartography, syntax-semantics interface, universal grammar, semantics, syntax
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