- Syntax and Spell-out in Slavic by Steven Franks
Steven Franks’s recent book explores the nature of two fundamental syntactic operations, constituent displacement and Spell-out. Constituent displacement relates to the observation that in natural languages syntactic objects may appear in different positions in the clause with respect to the purposes of their interpretation (which happens in the logical form (LF) component) and their pronunciation (which occurs in the phonetic form (PF) component). Traditionally, this property was represented as movement of a constituent from one position in the structure to another, though movement was recently reinterpreted in the minimalist framework as two operations, Copy and Delete. F develops a new theory of displacement that he refers to as multiattachment (also in the spirit of other recent proposals, including Citko 2011 and de Vries 2009). This theory does not assume autonomous copies of syntactic objects, but rather postulates that a single item may be linked with many distinct nodes in the phrase structure. The second operation addressed by F in his book is Spell-out. The notion of Spell-out is a consequence of the assumptions made in the generative framework about derivations, in which a morphosyntactic component feeds two independent devices, LF and PF. Spell-out is an instruction that the narrow syntactic processes, such as Merge, Move, and Agree, have been completed, and the results of the derivations are sent off to LF and PF. It is a matter of current debate when this instruction occurs and how it is triggered, and whether it applies only at a single point in the derivation or repeatedly, in a cyclic fashion. F addresses these issues in his work at length, and his argumentation is backed up by abundant data, largely from Slavic languages.
The book consists of five chapters. The first chapter sets the stage for the analysis developed in the work and presents the framework assumed by the author. It outlines fundamental notions adopted in syntactic research, such as the theory of phrase structure, properties of functional categories, and the role of features in vocabulary insertion. What is particularly commendable and inspiring about the presentation is that the framework is outlined largely on the basis of data from different Slavic languages. In this way F also succeeds in introducing some of the key issues in studies on Slavic morphosyntax, such as the realization of tense and agreement morphology and the system of clitics, and he provides potential analyses. A part of the analysis that I find somewhat problematic is the discussion of complex tense structures in Slavic on pp. 8–10. These structures are formed with the l-participle as the main verb and the auxiliary ‘be’, as illustrated in 1 for BCS (Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian).
In East Slavic languages the auxiliary ‘be’ is absent, and F, in line with some analyses of these languages, makes a generalization that the l-participle expresses the past tense, with -l being the past-tense morpheme. However, the l-participle is also attested in future complex forms in Polish and Slovene, which leads F to say on p. 9 that the past-tense meaning of the -l morpheme then ‘disappears’. It might be more feasible to assume that participles, as nonfinite forms, are tenseless. This is actually what F argues for on the basis of BCS data in Ch. 5, p. 241, observing that they occur in subjunctive environments.
Ch. 2 fleshes out the framework of multiattachment. Within this framework, movement is not a result of occurrences of multiple copies of syntactic objects in the derivation. Rather, F assumes that there is a single syntactic object, taking the form of a feature set, which can be linked to multiple nodes in the phrase structure. Thus, this framework postulates a rather different syntactic architecture, with radical consequences for many traditional theoretical assumptions. For example, it dispenses with the idea of EPP-driven or successive-cyclic movement and instead assumes that movement may proceed long distance, occurring when a triggering feature is introduced in the derivation. This...