Matching rather than movement

Is there really movement?

There are a number of problems with the idea that things are moving around in the grammar. First of all, it seems strange. It is not easy to believe that our language ability involves generating syntactic transformations. Cognitive Linguists, who do not believe in Universal Grammar and the Language Faculty, claim that their numbers are growing because the Chomskyan approach to Generative Grammar is simply not believable.


One problem is that movement solutions often seem to be deliberately ignoring simple facts related to the lexicon. For example take the example offered earlier:

1. Taro seems to like Hanako.

2. Taro/i seems  [t/i to like Hanako]

A movement explanation is going to suggest that the NP/DP Taro moves from the subject position of like.

A movement explanation is going to have to have Taro moving from some kind of subject position in the [-tense] lower clause.

So let’s say we have the subject Taro starting off in the [-tense] lower clause as the subject of like. Then it moves, in order to be in a tensed clause, for example. That seems alright. However, this kind of sentence is only grammatical for a limited class of verbs. For example, you can’t say 2 below:

2. *Taro thinks to like Hanako.

Verbs such as think SUBCATEGORIZE for a subject and a finite [+tense] complement. This example is ungrammatical. All grammars need this SUBCATEGORIZATION information.

Obviously, a verb such as thinks takes (subcategorizes for) a finite clause. So 3 is fine.

3. Taro thinks Ichiro loves Hanako.

The thing about a verb such as seem is that it takes a non-finite [-tense] complement with the subject of seem and the subject of the complement verb matched.

Verbs such as want also subcategorize for a subject and a [-tense] complement clause with a matching subject in the [-tense] clause. Obviously, the meaning of verbs such as want and verbs such as seem are completely different.
Verbs such as want can also subcategorize for a subject DP/NP (Taro) and TWO objects: a DP/NP (Hanako) AND a [-tense] clause with a match between the first object (Hanako) and the subject of the [-tense] clause.

The problem is, if we need subcategorization information in the lexicon, why do you ALSO need movement? Look at the following simple subcategorization information.

Seems takes a subject and a [-tense] clause with a matching subject. Thinks just takes a [+tense] clause. No matching required. Wants has 2 possibilities: 1. Wants takes a subject and a [-tense] clause with matching subject, just like seems but with a completely different meaning. 2. Wants takes a subject and an object NP AND a [-tense] clause with matching between the subject of [-tense] clause and the object NP.

The point is that we have to have subcategorization and it is quite easy to encode a simple matching of different sorts. Should we refuse to allow this matching information just so we need movement?

Anyway, check out the PowerPoint slides here.

Goldberg, A. E. (2011). General Introduction. In Cognitive Linguistics. London & New York: Routledge.