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Verb Positions and Basic Clause Structure in Germanic  

Jan-Wouter Zwart

The syntax of the modern Germanic languages is characterized by a word order pattern whereby the finite verb appears to the immediate right of the first constituent (“verb second” or V2). In canonical verb-second languages (German, Dutch, Afrikaans, Frisian, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish), verb second is limited to main clauses, yielding a main-embedded clause asymmetry, characteristic of the syntax of many Germanic languages. In the standard generative analysis, dating from the 1970s, the derivation of the verb-second pattern involves two ordered steps: (a) verb movement to the complementizer position C and (b) phrasal movement of an arbitrary constituent to the specifier position of the complementizer phrase. While this analysis remains a popular starting point for generative treatments of Germanic verb second, later developments have posed serious problems for the approach. These developments include (a) the articulation of a more detailed structure of the functional domain of the clause, providing a range of possible landing sites for the finite verb in verb-second clauses; (b) higher standards of descriptive and explanatory adequacy, necessitating well-motivated triggers for each individual movement step; (c) the development of the minimalist program, involving a sharper definition of what counts as syntactic operations, allowing for the possibility that certain processes previously considered syntactic are now better regarded as post-syntactic linearization processes; and (d) the widening of the empirical scope of verb-second research, including a range of related phenomena (such as verb-first or verb-third orders) not easily accommodated within the traditional frame. These developments make the study of verb second an exciting field in current syntactic theory, in which the varied and well-studied phenomena of Germanic continue to provide a fertile ground for the advancement of theory and description.

Article

Sentence Fragment Ellipsis in Chinese  

Audrey Yen-hui Li and Ting-chi Wei

Understanding what sentence fragments requires a detailed investigation of their properties. Relevant studies have classified fragments into four types according to the use of the copular verb shi ‘be’ with fragments: the occurrence of the sentence-final particle ne, syntactic categories allowed, island effects, P-stranding, and connectivity effects. It is shown that the distinction of fragments into different types is not necessary. The wider range of data considered fails to convincingly support the need for distinction, and a unified analysis of all fragments should be pursued. Three logical possibilities for a unified approach to sentence fragments are evaluated: (a) fragment as a result of deleting all but the fragment of a sentence (movement + deletion approach), (b) fragment base-generated as [pro + copular verb + fragment], and (c) fragment base-generated as a fragment. The first two options face challenges. The last option, even though seemingly a more adequate analysis for the range of facts, requires connectivity effects to be analyzed in semantic terms.