Object Preposing

Masanori NAKAMURA (専修大)

Languages like Indonesian/Malay (Austronesian), Dzamba (Bantu), and even Spanish (Romance) have a syntactic process which may be called Object Preposing (OP) (Chung 1976). The purpose of this paper is to offer an account of OP and to show that OP has important implications for the Minimalist Program (MP) (Chomsky 1995). One can distinguish between two sets of implications.

The first set of implications concerns the process of OP itself. Chung (1976) has shown that it is overt Case-driven movement of an internal argument into the structural subject position (Spec of TP). Importantly, the thematic subject in an OP construction is not demoted syntactically, unlike in a regular passive. Given the proper analysis of OP, Chomsky's (1995) theory wrongly expects OP to be impossible because the thematic subject is "closer" to T than the internal argument to be preposed. It is suggested that the grammaticality of OP necessitates modifications of the Extended Projection Principle and the definition of Attract in Chomsky 1995.

The second set of implications has to do with the interaction between OP and wh-movement. The key observation is that if one wishes to extract the thematic object, OP becomes obligatory. The fact that the thematic object cannot be extracted in a regular transitive clause poses a problem for the Empty Category Principle (Chomsky 1981 among others), since its "trace" is properly governed. It is shown that the problem can naturally be solved in terms of Economy, given a modified version of the notion of reference set and the Minimal Link Condition as an economy condition.

In short, to the extent that the present account of OP is correct, it lends support to one crucial asped of the MP, i. e., the notion of Economy. However, it also prompts revisions of other aspects of the MP, for instance, the notion of reference set.