Phases are Read-Only
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Phases are Read-Only


Chomsky (2000, 2001)’s Phase Impenetrability Condition (PIC) states that phases induce the trans-fer of their complements, rendering the complements inaccessible. As a consequence, cross- phasal dependencies are ruled out. Recent work on phases has suggested that instead of being eliminated, phase complements are present in the syntax but can no longer be modified (Obata 2010, 2017, Chomsky 2012, Chomsky, Gallego, and Ott 2019). I adopt this idea of phase comple- ments being visible but not modifiable as Read-Only, (1). (1) Read-Only: Once a phase is complete, its phase complement Z can be inspected, but Z’s featural content cannot be changed. Empirical evidence for Read-Only comes from Hindi-Urdu, where some syntactic dependencies (like φ-agreement) are in fact possible between two elements in different phases. In particular, there is evidence for an asymmetry in configurations with cross-phasal dependencies, such that dependencies modifying a phase-external element X in response to a phase-internal element Y are allowed, but dependencies modifying Y in response to X are disallowed. Read-Only—but not the PIC—accounts for this pattern of (im)possible cross-phasal dependencies in Hindi-Urdu.

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