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Linguistic Inquiry

Summer 2014, Vol. 45, No. 3, Pages 463-481
(doi: 10.1162/LING_a_00163)
@ 2014 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Labeling by Minimal Search: Implications for Successive- Cyclic A-Movement and the Conception of the Postulate ‘‘Phase’’
Article PDF (1.5 MB)

We argue that Chomsky’s (2013) ‘‘label identification by minimal search’’ explains ‘‘obligatory exit’’ from intermediate positions, not only in the successive-cyclic Ā-movement phenomena that Chomsky analyzes, but also in (phase-internal) successive-cyclic A-movement. Moreover, it does so by employing simplest Merge and third-factor minimal search for label identification. Our extension of Chomsky’s analysis to A-movement operates without any appeal to Merge-over- Move or to lexical arrays or subarrays. This in turn renders the concept ‘‘phase’’ itself no longer necessary in analyzing the core cases of illicit A-movement, shown to reduce to labeling failure. Implications of this result and the nature of the long-standing evidence for strict cyclicity are discussed.