Epp and There Construction in Term Paper

  • Length: 14 pages
  • Subject: Communication - Language
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #16859114

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Lasnik (2001) examined the subject of object shift and concluded that if the verb does not raise in front of the object that was shifted, the resulting sentence is grammatically incorrect. When the object shift is applied to the sentence, "Carol read a book," it becomes, "Carol a book read," or "Carol a book did read." Neither of the latter is acceptable or understandable to the recipient as written. This case casts considerable doubt on Chomsky's EPP theory to be applied in every case.

Rosengren (2002) argues that the EPP is not feature driven and that it does not result in the erasure of features. It is further argued that it is not directly related to the condition of being a subject. Therefore, in the case of expletives, there is no association between the subject and the expletive. Rosengren further argues that languages can be divided into EPP and non-EPP language.

Many of the key arguments against Chomsky's explanation of the EPP are based on the supposition that it relies on the existence of certain rules. However, throughout the literature, we have seen many examples that do not conform to the rules. The introduction of "there" into the sentence leaves the instruction to the reader to "do nothing" (Groat, 1995). This supports the concept that "there" is a null element in the sentence. Groat (2995) also supports the case supposition that in constructions containing there, that these elements bear case, but lack phi features.

Gaps in the Literature

The literature review examined the EPP in regards to the expletive there. Chomsky's minimalist approach to the EPP theory does not fit all of the cases that one finds in natural language. Attempts to explain the EPP have been largely unsuccessful. The mechanisms of EPP phenomenon are not well-understood, leaving EPP as an unsolved mystery in many cases. The inability to understand the EPP is a key gap in the literature and has been proposed as a possible case for the elimination of it. However, at the present time, no alternative exists. In addition. EPP can be used to explain many cases. Gaining a clear understanding of EPP features will provide essential bases for future research into this elusive area.

It is not the necessity of the need for the presence of a subject in a clause that is of greatest importance, but other features of EPP that are considered the most controversial. When Chomsky attempted to expand the role of EPP features, he began to draw the fierce criticism of his peers. One of the key mysteries in Chomsky's theory involves the case of expletives. The literature review explored expletives such as it and found that many times the identity of the expletive can be derived from the sentences around it. In the case of there, however, the expletive can serve as a non-specified place marker. There can be used to fill in missing attributes of the intended target. The expletive there can be assigned to certain targets and can replace wh-words. For instance, in the sentence, "There the woman sat the cake," there is used to imply a place or location. In this case, there must be accompanied by a non-verbal form of communication in order to be understood.

Under the current rules of predication, the EPP would appear to be a semantic requirement. However, the ability of semantically null elements, such as it and there creates a problem for EPP theorists. In Chomsky's approach to the EPP, it is a result of feature-checking. This suggests that the EPP is a morphological requirement. Lasnik presents another approach to the feature-checking theory proposed by Chomsky. Lasnik's approach presents the filled-specifier approach as an alternative to Chomsky's ideas.

Chomsky proposes that all types of grammatical movement are triggered by a universal mechanism. This represented an attempt to unify previous theories that suggested a different mechanism for the various types of movement such as head movement and a-movement. Since the introduction of the theory, many attempts have been made to explain it. However, this is where the theory opens itself to the greatest criticism. If a single mechanism were responsible for all of the various types of movements that occur in grammar, then a singular mechanism should be apparent. It is the lack of this singular mechanism or the inability to find it that presents the greatest difficulty to Chomsky's theory. The inability to find the mechanism that drives EPP has led to the supposition that EPP may not b the answer to grammatical movement.

In the past, the prevailing thought favored the concept that different mechanisms were responsible for different types of movement. The original EPP supports Chomsky's theory of universal grammar by proposing that a single mechanism is responsible for all of the different types of movement that are seen in the English language. However, this theory left many questions unanswered, such as what triggered the mechanism. Another question that was apparent from the literature, but that was not addressed was how a single mechanism can be responsible for different types of movement.

Chomsky realized that his original version of EPP did not adequately explain the many scenarios that were found in natural language. That was a key reason for Chomsky's revision of the EPP and the development of the minimalist approach. The new revision attempted to retain the core of the original approach. However, it introduced the elements of economy and optimal design as parameters as well. The inability to explain the mechanism and how a single mechanism can produce different results is one of the key gaps that exists in literature on language development.

It is apparent from the literature review that none of the previously examined theories can explain all of the cases that are seen in natural language and different types of movement. Therefore, a new approach to the problem must be taken. Control of the object to be moved is a key mystery that may provide clues as to the development and evolution of EPP and object movement. Examination of expletive, such as there will provide clues as to how these movements occur and possibly, what triggers them. The study will propose that the movement of expletive arguments will be greater for object-control verbs than for subject-control verbs. This suggests that adults will be more likely to change a them that is projected on the object position than one that is projected on the subject position. An examination of the expletive there will provide valuable clues as to the hierarchy and mechanism of such movements.

The proposed research will attempt to discover the direction of attachments by examining the number of there movements associated with object-controlled verbs and those associated with subject-controlled verbs. It may be noted that a verb can be object-controlled in one sentence and subject-controlled in another. This trait depends on usage, rather than the verb itself.

Support for this research stems from studies that examined the difference between spatial vs. object working memory. This research used Position Emission Tomography (PET) imagery to examine whether the brain used a single storage system that functioned as a unit or whether it used different storage buffers for different types of information. This is similar to the questions that were left unanswered by the two groups of linguists: those who propose different mechanisms for different movements and those such as Chomsky who propose that a single mechanism is responsible for all types movement.

The PET imagery study asked participants to perform both spatial and object related tasks. This study found that different working-memory buffers were used for storing spatial as opposed to object information (Smith, Jonides, & Koeppe, 1995). Interestingly, this study took place in the same year that Chomsky decided to revise the original EPP into the minimalist approach. However, it is not known if this study had any impact on this decision.

The division of different working buffer to store spatial vs. object related information suggests that the brain uses different systems to process different categories of information. Although the topic of this study was different from that being proposed in the area of language development, it does represent a key breakthrough that provides a general clue as to how the brain processes different types and categories of information. The difference between locomotive there (a spatially oriented task) and expletive there (an object oriented task) pose similar processing problems as one would expect with the processing of any other type of information.

Results of the PET imagery study have important implications for the future of EPP. If differences are found in the number of object-controlled vs. subject-controlled movements are seen, it would suggest that the processing mechanisms are different. However, if the number of movements in these two categories are similar, it will not necessarily suggest that the mechanism is the same, but it would suggests that they are not processed by the same mechanism, as would be expected if…

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