Projecting Subjects in Spanish and English

Ivan Ortega-Santos

The focus of this dissertation is syntactic movement and its relationship to surface semantics, morphology, and licensing relations in syntax, with an emphasis on Spanish and English. Chapter 2 argues that Herburger's (2000) Neo-Davidsonian approach to the semantics of focus, as syntactically implemented by Uriagereka (2005), allows for a unified treatment of new information focus and contrastive focus (focus movement to the left periphery and in situ focus) in Spanish. The diverse positions that the focused element can take in the sentence are claimed to be determined by contextual anchoring mechanisms of Raposo and Uriagereka (1995). This entails a remnant movement approach in cases of new information focus in Spanish (Ordóñez 2000). It is suggested that these processes take place covertly in English, contra Kayne (1998). Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 focus on the relationship between syntactic movement and surface semantics by looking at the syntax of preverbal subject in Spanish and English, respectively. According to Chomsky (2001, and subsequent work) and Uriagereka (2008) a.o., movement yields (at least) scopal and discourse-related properties. Movement to Spec,TP in so-called 'flexible word order' languages, like Spanish (contra Alexiadou and Anagnostopoulou 1998, a.o.), and in so-called 'strict' word order languages, like English, provides the testing ground for this hypothesis. It is argued here that both Spanish and English show surface semantics effects correlating with movement into Spec,TP, in keeping with the idea that syntactic movement has an effect on semantics. Chapter 5 explores a number of challenges for the phase-based system dispensing with grammatically significant Spec,H relations. It is proposed here that under a mixed system adopting phases and Long Distance Agreement and, crucially, a Multiple Spell-Out system (Uriagereka 1999), conceptual arguments against Spec,H relations can be circumvented. This is shown to solve a number of problems that the phase-based framework faces.