What drives syntactic computation?

Formal features (FFs) figure prominently in various areas of syntactic theorizing. Displacement/Internal Merge is widely held to be effected by FFs or their properties (strength, EPP, discourse‐related features, etc.). Similarly, External Merge is often taken to be controlled by FFs, e.g. to encode selectional properties of heads. However, this reliance on seemingly arbitrary triggers and the “Last Resort” character of syntactic computation in general is regarded with skepticism by many. A growing body of research emphasizes the role of externalization (PF) and interpretation (LF) in sanctioning syntactic operations. This Special Collection explores the question to what extent FFs can be replaced with more principled explanations and where, if at all, they may be indispensable. The Collection is based on the workshop “What drives syntactic computation? Alternatives to formal features,” held as part of the March 2015 Annual Meeting of the German Linguistics Society at the University of Leipzig.

Guest Editors: Dennis Ott & Radek Šimík

Research Article

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