The illusion of movement

Remember how movement is so important in transformational grammar?

Movement operations like this make up the transformations in transformational grammar. No movement, no transformation.

Well, Unification Grammars (UGs) try to get rid of movement altogether. Look at a very simple sentence such as this:

1. I like Taro.

Simple sentence, simple tree. No X-bar. This is a simple explanation.

Well, you can “move” the complement, Taro, to the beginning of the sentence if you want.

2. Taro, I like.

You might say this to contrast with someone else. For example:

3. Taro, I like (but Ichiro, I can’t stand).

UGs suggest that this movement is just an illusion. What is really happening is that the verb’s VALENCE features are being passed up the tree somehow.

Here’s I like. There’s no complement but you can see it there in the COMPS list marked in blue. Now UGs suggest that you can delete this VALENCY feature from the COMPS list and the verb can store it somehow.

For example, maybe the information in the COMPS list is copied and the COMPS list item is deleted, something like this.

The COMPS list item is deleted and copied into a store by the verb.

Then the information about the DELETED item is just carried up by verbs as usual in the same way that other information (like CONTENT) is carried by verbs.

The information gets deleted from COMPS but copied up the tree to a point where it can match with Taro. It looks like movement, but that’s just an illusion. It’s really just the usual matching operation.