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Verb Second and the Left Edge Filling Trigger

Abstract : V2 as obligatory exponence at the sentence level and typological implications Mélanie Jouitteau, CNRS, IKER, UMR 5478 Final version to be published in Rethinking V2, Sam Wolfe & Rebecca Woods (eds.), Oxford, Oxford University Press. This paper is an inquiry about the subcomponent of the Extended Projection Principle (EPP) that is relevant for second position phenomena: the Left Edge Filling Trigger (LEFT). LEFT basically amounts to a classical morphological obligatory exponence effect, except it is instantiated at the sentence level. It crosslinguistically operates in a postsyntactic realizational morphological module. I show that LEFT is an active rule of Universal Grammar, providing empirical arguments from Breton, a Celtic VSO language showing an extra conspicuous V2 requirement. I propose a radical reanalysis of language typology of word order. Classical V2 languages are conspicuously V2. SVO is a subtype. So-called V1 languages are either predicate fronting languages (Tense second), or inconspicuously V2. I discuss a crosslinguistic typology of LEFT effects, with great attention to inconspicuous satisfiers, among them null expletives for which I present evidence. I argue accordingly for a drastic extension of the typology of expletives. This paper proposes a new take on V2 by bringing attention to the most inconspicuous elements that occupy the initial position before the inflected verb. It is first argued that the V2 requirement is in itself post-syntactic. A close look at possible word orders in Breton (Celtic) shows that when syntax and information structure conspire for Tense-first orders, the language makes use of last-resort non-syntactic operations that violate the Head Movement Constraint and/or the syntactic ban on excorporation. Syntactic accounts of V2 fall short in accounting for these syntactic violations that happen only in all-focused or out-of-the-blue contexts, as well as their ultralocality as in Stylistic fronting. I argue that V2 fundamentally derives from a morphological obligatory exponence effect that we observe at the sentence level (Left Edge Filling Trigger, LEFT). This proposal has far reaching typological consequences. Conspicuous LEFT effects can be seen in classical V2 languages like Germanic languages or Old Romance languages, but also Japanese and Korean scrambling paradigms, or even verb-doubling paradigms in languages as diverse as Basque or Gungbe. Finally, a close scrutiny at inconspicuous LEFT effects (dropped elements, null expletives, C heads…) allows for a reclassification of classical Verb-first languages like Arabic or Irish into verb-second languages, which drastically extends the typology of V2.
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Jouitteau. 2019. Left Edge Fil...
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Mélanie Jouitteau. Verb Second and the Left Edge Filling Trigger. Rebecca Woods & Sam Wolfe. Rethinking V2, Oxford University Press, pp.455-481, 2020, 9780198844303. ⟨hal-02023271⟩



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