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Linguistic Inquiry

Winter 2004, Vol. 35, No. 1, Pages 168-178
(doi: 10.1162/ling.2004.35.1.168)
© 2004 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Coordination of Verbs and Two Types of Verbal Inflection
Article PDF (67.7 KB)

Recent studies of the relationship between verbal morphology and syntax have led to two major approaches to verbal inflection in English. In one approach, proposed by Chomsky (1995), the inflectional morpheme is considered to be part of the verb that enters syntactic derivation. Thus, this approach claims that the finite verb enters syntactic derivation fully inflected and its inflectional features are licensed by a checking relation with the (abstract) functional head T. The other approach, argued for by Halle and Marantz (1993), Bobaljik (1994),and Lasnik (1995), claims that the finite verb is bare (uninflected) in syntax, with the inflectional morpheme located in T, and that the verbal root is merged with the inflectional morpheme in the phonological component (i.e., in the derivation from Spell-Out to PF) under the condition of adjacency.1

In this squib, I will point out that the simple fact that English finite verbs can be conjoined favors the approach in which the inflectional morpheme is regarded as part of V. I will then consider Japanese in this light, showing that it does not allow finite verbs to be conjoined and that when verb coordination takes place, the first conjunct must be a bare verb. I will argue that these striking properties of Japanese arise because it employs the mechanism of verbal inflection by which the inflectional morpheme is located in T in syntax and is merged with the adjacent verb in the phonological component. The emerging picture is thus that the two types of verbal inflection are both necessary, utilized in different languages.