Cyclical Change and Problems of Projection
elly van gelderen
November 2019

Specifiers are reanalyzed as heads and heads as higher heads. When the older specifiers and heads are renewed, a linguistic cycle emerges. Explanations that have been given for these cycles include structural and featural economy (e.g. van Gelderen 2004). Chomsky’s (2013; 2015) focus on labeling as unconnected to merge makes it possible to see the cycles in another way, namely as resolutions to labeling problems. The Labeling Algorithm (LA) operates after merge is complete, at the point that a syntactic derivation is transferred to the interfaces. When a head and a phrase merge, the LA automatically determines the head to be the label. In cases where two phrases merge, the LA cannot find the head and one of the phrases either has to move or share features with the other. I will argue that, in addition to Chomsky’s resolutions to labeling paradoxes, reanalyzing a phrase as a head also resolves the paradox. This change is very frequent as I show in eight cross-linguistically attested changes which are part of full cycles. In addition, in the renewal stage of a cycle, adjuncts are frequently incorporated as arguments and this shows a preference of set-merge (feature-sharing) over pair-merge.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/003815
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Cyclical Change and Problems of Projection. In Cycles in Language Change, edited by Anne Breitbarth, Miriam Bouzouita, Lieven Danckaert, and Elisabeth Witzenhausen. (2019): 13-32. Oxford University Press.
keywords: head, labeling, linguistic cycle, minimal search, phrase, feature-sharing, pop, renewal, syntax
previous versions: v2 [May 2018]
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