This brief squib revisits a problem that’s been bothering me for a long time, first noticed by Jim McCloskey in a 1996 paper (presented at the first conference on Celtic I ever went to!). Jim noticed that in Irish certain verbs single argument appeared either as a prepositional phrase or as a nominal phrase. In the former case, the PP seemed to appear low in the structure, while the nominal phrase moved to the standard subject position. This seems like a perfectly sensible pattern, but is actually quite difficult to capture in the kind of approach, mainstream at the time, that said movements had to be triggered. If you need to trigger the movement of the nominal subject, what happens to that trigger when the subject is a PP. This squib shows that some ideas from Chomsky’s recent POP framework make this pattern much less weird. Overall, it suggests that there aren’t EPP features of heads; rather, phrases that can’t stay in situ, end up wherever they can be licensed.
The draft is on lingbuzz at: