The features [±Strong]

Linguistics 322

Intermediate Syntax

The feature [-Strong] means that a form may lower in the syntax. Only affixes and certain operator-words such as not are marked as [-Strong]. [-Strong is a default featuare. It is normally not listed in the lexical entry of a form; it is automatically entered unless the form is marked as [+Strong]. Lowering is the least effort. The Least Effort principle, informally stated:

(1)     Principle:     Don't do if you don't have to

The reason why T lowers is because it needs a host. Why not insert a dummy verb right away? Because the insertion of a dummy form belongs to Last Resort, informally stated: 

(2)     Principle:     Do it if nothing else works.

Lowering belongs to the overall principle called 'Copy Feature' or 'Insert Feature' (formerly 'Move Alpha'):

(3)     Principle:     Copy a Feature if properly motivated.

A feature is copied because

1)     it is motivated by the need for a host: it is a least effort process.

2)     The blank specification of a feature must be filled.

All other words, including all lexical items are marked [+Strong]. This means that a feature can be extracted from the form.

Do-Insertion (also called Do-Support) is in example of Last Resort. For example, T requires a host. It should lower since lowering not a last resort. If it can't lower for whatever reason, then Do-Insertion applies since it is a last resort.

The feature [+Strong] is a property of operators and lexical items. It is assigned to links of a chain, and refers to which end of a chain is to be spelled out. In the vast majority of cases, one one end of a chain can be marked [+Strong], though in exceptional cases both ends may be. We will cover only the default cases here .

One example of a strong operator in English is [+Q]. However, it is strong in certain contexts. It appears that the default position for strength in a link is the head of the chain:

(4)     Default Rule: The head of a link is [+Strong]; the tail is [-Strong].

(5)     Rule:     [+Q] in English is [+Strong].

See question operator for more details. There are other strong operators; they are dealt with in specific files.

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This page last updated 13 NO 2000.