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Linguistic Inquiry

Spring 2005, Vol. 36, No. 2, Pages 161-193
(doi: 10.1162/0024389053710729)
© 2005 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Merge and Move: Wh-Dependencies Revisited
Article PDF (138.15 KB)

In this article, we argue that, under current conceptions of the architecture of the grammar, apparent wh-dependencies can, in principle, arise from either a movement or a base-generation strategy, where Agree establishes the syntactic connection in the latter case. The crucial diagnostics are not locality effects, but identity effects. We implement the base-generation analysis using a small set of semantically interpretable features, together with a simple universal syntax-semantics correspondence. We show that parametric variation arises because of the different ways the features are bundled on functional heads. We further argue that it is the bundling of two features on a single lexical item, together with the correspondence that requires them to be interpreted apart, that is responsible for the displacement property of human languages.