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Linguistic Inquiry

Summer 2001, Vol. 32, No. 3, Pages 405-437
(doi: 10.1162/002438901750372513)
© 2001 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Features, θ-Roles, and Free Constituent Order
Article PDF (150.58 KB)

This article proposes a new base generation account of free constituent order. Scrambling as movement is incompatible with central assumptions of the Minimalist Program: it cannot involve the checking of strong categorial features. Concentrating on German, the article refutes the standard empirical arguments for scrambling and shows that free constituent order is a base-generated phenomenon. The article proposes that θ-role assignment is a by-product of checking the formal features of arguments. When checking features are strong, word order is fixed; when checking features are weak, free constituent order arises owing to a relativized interpretation of the Minimal Link Condition.