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Cyclic Computation, A Computationally Efficient Minimalist Syntax

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We construct a completely cyclic Minimalist theory of syntactic derivations. A derivation consists of a sequence of cycles. Each cycle starts with the introduction of a new head and merger of the head's selected arguments, followed by satisfaction (via checking) of the head's removable features. The theory includes no acyclic devices such as lexical arrays or comparison of derivations. Satisfaction of features is accompanied by full category movement whenever it is not blocked by morphology or constraints barring multiple specifiers. The Minimal Link Condition is viewed computationally and is naturally incorporated into Satisfy. Our precise notion of checking involves sets of features interacting in the same checking relation, and yields an account of successive cyclic movement, the distribution of expletives, EPP, and quirky case phenomena. The paper can be read as empirical evidence that the core syntactic algorithm is computationally efficient.
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Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: Department of Mathematics, Northeastern University, Boston, MA

Publication date: 01 April 1999

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