On the Non-Universality of Functional Projections and the Effects on Parametrized Variation: Evidence from Creoles

Marlyse Baptista
University of Georgia

In this paper, I try to address three crucial issues in the realm of universals and parametrized variation: Are functional projections universal? If they are not, how do natural languages such as Creoles develop them? Finally, if a set of Creoles develop inflection (such as Tense inflection), what are the syntactic effects and can parametrized variation be predicted between the Creoles with inflectional verbal morphology (Capeverdean Creole, Louisiana Creole and Chinook Jargon) and those without. Chomsky (1993) attempted to reduce parametric variations (such as overt V-raising or lack thereof) to morphological properties. In this sense, his approach is compatible with that of Pollock ( 1989), Vikner (1995), Rohrbacher (1993), and Roberts (1993). Furthermore, he assumed that LF is irrelevant in detecting variations in languages, as distinctive properties may be detected only at PF. If parametric differences among languages such as raised phrases or phrases in-situ are not detectable at LF, one has to rely on morphological properties that are reflected at PF. So languages with V-raising, like French, and those without V-raising, like English, are not distinguishable at LF. From the perspective of learnability, the child has to rely on the detectable properties at PF (morphological properties) to set the parameters of a given language correctly.
Assuming that ( (a verb in the case under study) emerges from the lexicon fully inflected, its features are then checked against the inflectional element I in the complex [( I]. Technically, ( adjoins to the lowest I to form the complex [I ( I] and then this complex continues to raise to the next higher inflectional element. After multiple adjunctions, ( will still be in the checking domain of the highest I (Chomsky 1993; 47, fn.31).
On this issue, this paper will demonstrate how in the process of developing inflectional morphology and functional projections, Creoles instantiate specific morpho-syntactic constraints which shed a new light on a crucial typological generalization: Creoles which develop inflection, develop V-raising (even where there is no evidence of AgrP, so only V0 to T0), whereas Creoles without tense inflection do not display verb movement. The examination of V-features or properties of ( (as V) in Creoles will lead to new conclusions in terms of their typological categorization and that of other languages. Furthermore, while syntacticians have been mostly preoccupied with the syntactic effects of the loss of verbal morphology (as with the English language), the reverse trend should be examined when languages such as Creoles develop Tense inflection.

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Previously held Penn Linguistics Colloquium: PLC22 (1998), PLC21 (1997)

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