Triggers. Ed. by Anne Breitbarth and Henk van Riemsdijk. (Studies in generative grammar.) Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2004. Pp. vi, 496. ISBN 3110181398. $127 (Hb).

Reviewed by Michael Barrie, University of Toronto

This volume is a collection of papers that grew out of a workshop on triggers held at the University of Tilburg in October of 2002. Each paper deals with a different aspect of triggers, which the editors define as ‘requirements of some sort that cause syntactic effects, most notably displacement’ (1). Despite the common thread, that is, displacement, that unites all of the articles in this book, the authors tackle a wide variety of phenomena across an impressive range of languages and language families, taking up several current disparate theoretical issues. The result of these different backgrounds and approaches to triggers is a diverse collection of papers dealing with a different aspect of grammar in each case.


Enoch O. Aboh’s paper argues that generalized pied-piping is not free but is subject to general economy conditions. He shows that head movement cannot be relegated to PF as it has semantic effects in verb-focusing constructions in Gungbe. Aboh then addresses the longstanding question as to why the functional heads C, I, and D trigger head movement rather than XP movement, showing that XP movement is instantiated in many languages around the world and that this movement results in a ‘Snowballing’ effect in which the complement of an XP raises to the specifier of the same XP.


Gabriela Alboiu’s contribution tackles the tricky area of optionality and how to deal with it in a minimalist framework. Specifically, she looks at variable pronunciation sites of focused phrases in Romanian, which can be pronounced in situ or at the left periphery. She argues against an LF raising analysis of the in situ focused phrases and instead proposes that a focus feature is checked in situ and that the left-dislocation of the focus phrase takes place to satisfy an EPP/OCC feature. She then proposes that only an optionally present EPP/OCC feature can have semantic import. When EPP/OCC is obligatory (such as subject raising to SpecTP in English), no semantic import is entailed.


Arthur Bell’s paper on negation in Afrikaans proposes that, in some cases, the head of NegP has an uninterpretable feature when it is null and an interpretable feature when phonologically overt. The uninterpretable feature, [uNeg], triggers movement. Bell proposes a split NegP, the higher of which behaves as described above. The lower NegP attracts the vP to its specifier. Bell also discusses scope facts with negation and the lower NegP.


Chris Collins proposes an agreement parameter that determines whether overt movement takes place to check an uninterpretable feature. This parameter captures the difference between Bantu and English. English does not require overt displacement of an XP that checks an uninterpretable feature, which gives rise to there-constructions and locative inversion. Bantu, by contrast, does require overt displacement, which accounts for the lack of these constructions. Collins then examines the consequences of this parameter on internal DP structure and case theory, where he concludes that the Spec-Head configuration is not a checking relation. Checking takes place only under c-command.


Norbert Corver looks at a variety of constructions in various Dutch and Frisian dialects that appear with the morpheme /-e/ (schwa). He argues that this morpheme is the head of a small clause that triggers predicate fronting. As such, it is similar to Dutch een (‘one’) in similar constructions.


Roland Hinterhölzl examines scrambling and optional movement in German. He proposes that the optionality of movement is not a property of the syntax, but rather a property of PF (but see Alboiu’s contribution above). Scrambling movement, he argues, is obligatory; the optionality lies in which copy of the moved element PF chooses to pronounce. PF, then, consists of principles, such as ‘A scopal element is interpreted in its scope position’, that may or may not be active in a given dialect. He also suggests that all scopal movement is overt A-movement to check scopal features. Thus, a wide-scope element must c-command a narrow-scope element.


Ruriko Kawashima and Hisatsugu Kitahara discuss the visibility of phonological content to syntax. They propose that an XP can act as an intervener between a probe and a goal only if that XP has phonological content. They also propose that scrambling is Match-driven movement, while A-movement is Agree-driven movement. They discuss scrambling in Japanese and the inability of null arguments to undergo scrambling and sketch out an analysis on these two proposals. For them, scrambling is available in languages that have both Agree- and Match-driven movement.


Mariana Lambova’s contribution adds to the growing debate on the status of head movement by presenting evidence from Bulgarian. She dismisses earlier long head-movement approaches to the phenomenon and argues that local head movement and scattered deletion account for a wider range of facts in Bulgarian. Thus, for Lambova, word order arises by movement, triggered in the syntax, and PF interface considerations, which select which copies to pronounce.


In Anikó Lipták’s paper, new data on subordinated wh-scope marking is presented. Lipták argues that these constructions are interpreted as matrix wh-questions, but have the syntax of embedded clauses. The question addressed here, then, is what triggers movement of the wh-phrase to an intermediate position, rather than to the matrix CP. Lipták argues that these constructions are better understood as involving standard wh-movement.


Eric Mathieu considers hyperbaton in Classical Greek. He argues that such structures actually consist of two DPs in apposition in which one DP can raise while the other remains in situ. The author proposes that a feature such as [wh] or [focus] resides in the head of some functional projection in the left periphery and has an EPP feature, thus triggering raising of one or both DPs. Mathieu speculates that since movement of both DPs is obligatory in some situations, the syntax allows it to take place vacuously in case of a ‘worst case scenario’.


László Molnárfi also addresses this issue of scrambling in German, but takes a radically different approach, suggesting that the base word order is not the most discourse-neutral word order. To this end, Molnárfi argues for antifocus positions as an option in natural language, which act as a prosodic trigger, driving nonfocused elements to the left periphery. Presenting morphological evidence from Afrikaans, Molnárfi argues that the base position of arguments is reserved for focused elements.


Assuming dynamic antisymmetry, Andrea Moro discusses various consequences of the theory of displacement in which linear compression (symmetric c-command) serves as a trigger for movement. One such consequence that he discusses at length is the presence of mirror word orders in English and Italian, such as The picture on the wall was the cause of the riot versus The cause of the riot was the picture on the wall.


Fumikazu Niinuma and Myung-Kwan Park discuss subject-aux inversion in English comparatives, arguing that the head movement needed to derive such constructions is best analyzed as PF movement. Their evidence for placing head movement in these constructions is the interaction between inversion in comparatives and stress assignment and the fact that more than one auxiliary can move (in contrast to inversion in question formation, where only the highest auxiliary moves). The trigger for PF head raising in here is to allow the subject to receive unmarked sentence stress.


Milan Rezac investigates the EPP and how it is manifested in Breton. He proposes that the preverbal position in Breton checks an unvalued categorial feature in T0. Thus, the category of the element that appears in the specifier of TP corresponds to an overt morpheme that Rezac argues appears in T0. In arguing his case, Rezac develops an analysis of the clausal architecture of Breton and builds a case against more traditional explanations of EPP effects in Breton.