Minimality and Turkish Relative Clauses

Ilhan Cagri

Turkish relative clauses display a subject/non-subject asymmetry. The subject relative (SR) is licensed for relativization from [Spec, TP]. Whereas the non-subject relative (NSR) is never acceptable for subject relativization, the SR is licensed in clauses where there is no external argument, and when relativizing a non-subject in clauses where the subject is non-specific. Within the framework of the Minimalist Program, Turkish RCs are explained in terms of satisfaction of the EPP of T by a D feature and Minimality effects. As long as no nominal expression intervenes between the relative head and [Spec, TP], the SR is licensed. The SR, then, can be used as a diagnostic for movement through TP. Minimality effects are incurred when there is an intervening nominal between T° and the RC head, and the SR becomes unacceptable. The proposal is that in Turkish, specific nominals, +human nominals, and Experiencers of psych verbs all contain a DP projection. Non-specifics are NPs which cannot satisfy the EPP. NP subjects cannot move to [Spec, TP], and thus permit the SR form for relativization of non-subjects. NPs create intervention effects, as does PRO, with the exception of subject control PRO which is perhaps a trace of movement. Scrambling ameliorates intervention effects. Once scrambled, expressions are frozen but remain porous for movement of a subconstituent. Differences between inherent and structural Case are suggested with structural case assignment limited to DPs and in a Spec-Head configuration. Structurally case-marked DPs are barred from moving to case-assigning positions unless there is a morphological match. Further proposals include structures for verb classes, including Psych verbs, and structures for infinitivals and +human DPs. Contrastive focus is briefly addressed. Though superficially complex, relativization in Turkish can be accounted for with a minimum of technology. The suggestions here have implications for the theory of the EPP, Case, its assignment and interface conditions, feature satisfaction, and movement.