A parsimonious method for generating syntactic structure
David P Medeiros
January 2021

This paper reformulates (External) Merge as freely generating bare n-ary trees, labeled with a universal hierarchy by postorder traversal, and linearized by preorder traversal. Important word order universals follow: in several domains, all attested neutral orders are base-generated, while unattested orders match a systematic gap in generative capacity. The framework unifies Universal 20 (Greenberg 1963, Cinque 2005) and the Final Over Final Condition (Holmberg 2000, Sheehan et al 2017) as consequences. We also find simple analyses of cross-serial dependency constructions, including English Affix-Hopping (Chomsky 1957), and Dutch cross-serial subject-verb dependencies (Bresnan et al 1982). Other applications include a version of Travis' (1984) Head Movement Constraint allowing attested long head movement as in Breton.
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Reference: lingbuzz/005589
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keywords: merge, final-over-final condition, universal 20, cross-serial dependencies, syntax, head movement
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