Research Paper

Phase-level Minimality in Romance VOS


This paper discusses the morphological and syntactic properties in VOS sentences in Iberian Romance languages. In particular, it explores the possibility that VOS structures are derived through movement of the object to a specifier that c-commands the subject, which predicts a minimality configuration between C-T (the nominative Case Probe), the subject (the Goal), and the raised object (the intervener). After considering different alternatives to account for the scenario just described, some pieces of evidence are put forward to argue that the minimality configuration is circumvented if the relevant portion of the subject (a null φ-clitic or a little pro; see Torrego 1998 and Belletti 2004) ends up in a position higher than that of the shifted object – namely, T –, a process that is related to Chomsky’s (2008) φ-inheritance. To the extent that it is tenable, the analysis not only offers a solution to a long-standing problem without resorting to ad hoc locality-modifying devices (e.g. equidistance), but also reinforces Chomsky’s (2001, 2007, 2008) recent conception of the cycle, whereby operations wait until a dedicated stage of the derivation (the phase level) is reached to take place.

How to Cite

Gallego, Á., (2008) “Phase-level Minimality in Romance VOS”, Journal of Portuguese Linguistics 7(2), p.47-62. doi:







Ángel J. Gallego (Departament de Filologia Espanyola, Facultat de Filosofia i Lletres, Edifici B, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra (Barcelona), Spain)



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