Where movement fails: minimalist perspectives on island effects

Lecturer: Michelle Sheehan
Time: 15:00-16:30
Room: G02, School of Pharmacy

Course website



This is a crash course in so-called island effects or extraction restrictions, suitable for anyone with only a basic knowledge of syntax. Over the course of the five classes, we will consider a variety of different minimalist approaches to these restrictions, focusing on phases, PF-transfer and anti-locality as explanations. After a brief introduction to the topic and its (sometimes unfortunate) terminology, we will consider basic complement/non-complement asymmetries and how they might be explained using Multiple Spell-Out. We will then turn our focus to intervention-based accounts of weak and strong island effects, introducing a version of phase theory. This will lead us to a discussion of syntactic ergativity and other contexts where movement of one thing seems to block extraction of another. The fourth class will introduce Anti-locality as an explanatory mechanism, detailing the evidence for it and considering to what extent it overlaps with/replaces intervention-based accounts. Finally, we will consider contexts where A-movement fails, using them to motivate a particular version of phase theory.

  1. The Condition on Extraction Domain – Multiple Spell-Out and subject/adjunct islands
  2. Weak islands – phases, intervention, wh-complements and null operators
  3. Syntactic ergativity and its kin – more competition at the phase edge
  4. Anti-locality – TP-fronting, P-stranding, that-trace and anti-that-trace effects
  5. Where A-movement fails – passives of causatives and perception verbs
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