The extraction restriction across Austronesian languages

Edith Aldridge
(University of Washington)

Austronesian languages have been argued to impose a variety of syntactic and/or morphological constraints on A’-extraction. Keenan and Comrie (1977) observed that many Austronesian languages allow only subjects to undergo relativization, so advancement to subjecthood is a prerequisite for extraction in these languages. A reformulation of this idea is offered by Davies and Kurniawan (2013), who analyze what is traditionally assumed to be A’-movement as A-movement to subject position in Sundanese. Another type of approach captures the subject restriction in terms of locality. Cole and Hermon (2008) propose that non-subject arguments are trapped inside the vP that undergoes movement to generate verb-initial word order in Toba Batak, while subjects are located outside vP and so are free to extract. Still another type of approach correlates alternations in verb morphology with movement. Sato (2008) argues that post-syntactic vocabulary insertion for v is sensitive to the presence of a trace in the edge of this phase in Indonesian and Javanese. Others treat alternations in verbal morphology as agreement with the case feature of the moving constituent (Chung 1994 for Chamorro; Georgopoulos 1991 for Palauan; and Rackowski and Richards 2005 for Tagalog).

In this talk, I propose a unified approach to extraction in these and other Austronesian languages. In a general sense, I take Keenan and Comrie’s (1977) observation to be essentially correct: the DP with nominative case is privileged for extraction. I argue that languages with the extraction restriction do not distinguish A from A’ movement, i.e. do not have C-T Inheritance in the sense of Chomsky (2008). Consequently, [Spec, CP] is not only the landing site for A’ operations like relativization and wh-movement, but also the position for valuing nominative case. As a result, only the DP needing to value nominative case can undergo extraction.

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Davies, William and Eri Kurniawan (2013). ‘Movement and locality in Sundanese wh-questions’, Syntax 16.2: 111-147.
Georgopoulos, Carol. 1991. Syntactic Variables. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Keenan, Edward & Bernard Comrie. 1977. Noun Phrase Accessibility and Universal Grammar. Linguistic Inquiry 8.1:63-99.
Rackowski, Andrea and Norvin Richards (2005). ‘Phase edge and extraction: A Tagalog case study. Linguistic Inquiry 36.4: 565-599.
Sato, Yosuke. 2008. Minimalist Interfaces: Selected issues in Indonesian and Javanese. University of Arizona dissertation.