In Minimalist Program, the generation of syntactic structure utilizes the probe-goal agreement operation circumventing a violation of locality (Chomsky, 2001). Under such circumstances, Collins proposed the optimal generation of English passive sentences, i.e., the analysis of passive suffix -en absorbing accusative Case and the external θ-role in principle and parameter literature could be addressed by adopting the operation based on merge and movement. Consequently, he put forward a smuggling approach in the way that retains the quintessence in principle and parameter tradition, and better realizes the core concept of Minimalist Thesis (Collins, 2005b). Smuggling in Syntax, edited by A. Belletti and C. Collins, presents readers with a panoramic standpoint of cutting-edge research on an empirical analysis of smuggling.

The volume, which consists of 11 chapters including an Introduction and an Afterword, mainly describes a wide-ranging application of a smuggling approach in the derivation of syntactic structure among different language families. Chapter 1, the introduction of the volume, delineates smuggling from the consequence of a two-step syntactic derivation explicated as pied-piping and extraction. Smuggling, a special kind of movement interaction, refers particularly to a situation where the DP is smuggled over the external argument (EA) by the movement of a larger constituent, invariably referred to as a verbal chunk (Collins, 2005a, 2005b). Derived from the diverse sequence of steps, some intimately related syntactic computations, i.e., remnant movement, crossing, and nested paths, are clearly articulated. Besides, the possible ranges of smuggling operations are also illustrated. A case in point is the smuggling in the domain of A’ movement, which impeccably fleshes out the extensive scope of syntactic derivations. This chapter ends with an overview of the volume’s contents.

In Chapter 2, Belletti addresses two research questions: (i) what the impetus of smuggling in syntactic derivations is and (ii) how some relevant chunks are to be smuggled identified. To crack the nutshell, she takes a comparative perspective by analyzing cross-linguistic data, mostly from Italian and English. She concludes that smuggling crucially operates in a host of derivations like passives, causatives, and si-causative passives, all of which involve the movement of the typical verbal chunks embodying both the verb and the internal argument (IA). It is noted that such relevant chunks could be attracted into the specifier of a probing feature head in the clause structures. In the meantime, the phenomenon of how the developing child acquires the intricate or slightly simple smuggling-type derivation simultaneously also provides special lenses through which these two fundamental questions can be answered. Such acquisition results probably prove that syntactic derivations involving the movement of the typical verbal chunk with both the verb and the IA appear to be accessible early for the developing child, especially in a portion of cases where “the head has an overt lexicalized manifestation” (p. 33).

In chapter 3, Bianchi briefly presents one particular case of smuggling, i.e., the smuggling analysis of the distribution and interpretive properties of punctual time adverbials in Italian. In terms of neo-Reichenbachian approaches to tense, temporal relations can be converted into the Aspect Phrase and the Tense Phrase, that is, the interrelationship among the Event Time (E), the Reference Time (R), and the Speech Time (S). Specifically, the interpretation of punctual time adverbials is influenced by syntactic position in which a left-peripheral adverbial permits either the E or R interpretation, whereas a clause-internal adverbial inaccessible excludes the former interpretation. Furthermore, it is claimed that the pattern that the clause-medial aspectual adverbial già blocks the R interpretation could also be explicated through a smuggling analysis.

In chapter 4, Bošković explores smuggling concerning the freezing ban, i.e., the movement is not plausible to evacuate from the moved elements. The smuggling analysis of tough-constructions, as a modified version, however, favors the traditional null Operator analysis (Hicks, 2009). Nevertheless, Bošković points out that the extraction out of moved elements appears feasible only if such movement is independent of successive-cyclic movement through the edge of the moved element, due to the absence of the labeling (Chomsky, 2013). This also means that agreeing specifiers can endow elements with labeling so that the element bearing on an uninterpretable feature is eligible to move. Henceforth, Bošković has emphasized the all-round relationship between movement and labeling given as “unlabeled elements cannot undergo movement; unlabeled elements do not function as interveners; and movement cannot target unlabeled elements” (p. 90).

Through chapter 5, Collins discusses a smuggling approach to the dative alternation in English, referred to as a syntactic relationship regarding double object construction as in John gave Mary the car and prepositional dative construction as in John gave the car to Mary. Notwithstanding the relevant sequence of derivation has long been controversial, Collins puts forward his viewpoints that the prepositional dative is derived from double object construction via VP movement, i.e., smuggling the theme past the goal, which will not bring forth a locality problem as a result of c-command asymmetries in double object construction and prepositional dative construction.

Chapter 6 principally revolves around measure phrase (MP) alternation in connection with smuggling. Corver examines the MP alternation from a cross-scoped perspective, which could be illustrated by the minimal pair below:

    1. (1)
    1. (a)
    1. John is [two inches too tall].
    1. (b)
    1. John is [too tall by two inches].

It is proposed that a bare MP in (1a) is the base order and the by+MP in (1b), the derived one, resulting from the leftward movement of a VP which smuggles the subject over MP. Subsequently, MP alternations in different domains, i.e., the adjectival, the nominal, the prepositional, and primarily the clausal domain, have been addressed. Most notably, the clauses only allow one-word order, the well-formed pattern V by+MP. The Relativized Minimality sees the consequence of an ill-formed *MP V pattern. More specifically, the movement of the VP-internal subject across MP violates locality constraints. Instead, such violation would not occur in non-clausal configurations, simply because the subject in the small clause is base-generated in a position hierarchically higher than MP. Ultimately, Corver leaves readers with a single research question– “why by can, and for certain speakers must, be absent” (p. 143)–, opening up the possibility for a new direction of syntactic derivation with MP alternation.

A large part of Chapter 7 unfolds an outlook on analyzing the syntax of the active and passive diathesis alternation, which endows plenty of significant similarities and distinctions with Collins’ analysis (2005a). Den Dikken holds that Collins’ analysis seems to be in full compliance with the Uniform of Theta-Assignment Hypothesis (UTAH) (Baker, 1988), whereas his proposal appears to take a step back: the external argument is assigned to varying structural locations. On account of an asymmetrical but indirect relationship between the predication and its subject, Den Dikken stresses that “UTAH is about relation, not absolute positions” (p. 183). Moreover, he follows that an analysis of passive sentences reaps huge fruits in conjunction with Visser’s Generalization, the distribution of depictives and the restrictions on coreference in passives. With the assistance of a RELATOR (a meaningless element that plays an essential role in the establishment and syntactic manipulation of predication relationships), the VP and the EA are in a reverse predication structure, which could mediate the predication relation without smuggling the IA across the EA.

Chapter 8 lays stresses on the syntax of can’t seem construction in English. Koopman provides an insight into a mismatch between the syntax and the semantics as in I can’t seem to fix this, whose linear order must be inherited from a merge order where seem merges hierarchically higher than not can V. Following Minimalist syntax, Koopman regards the properties and the restrictions of syntactic construction in English as structure-building merge, external merge and internal merge, on a par with general principles like Attract Closest and the Extension Condition. It is also noteworthy that Pied-piping serves as a central ingredient in the process of spelling out the independently motivated component of the syntactic derivation and establishing a proper bottom-up sequence of merge. Further, phrasal remnant movements play a crucial part in the syntactic derivation to shun interveners. Koopman finally concludes that the can’t seem construction must be derived from the following merge sequence: SEEM TO > DE > CAN > V. And the derivation of English could, in turn, shed light on a homologous account for a syntax-phonology mismatch in Germanic OV language where a strong intervention effect caused by experiencers could be reduced to a required sequence of the merge.

In Chapter 9, two research questions are posed on whether it is a unified account on children’s late acquisition of Subject-to-Subject Raising (StSR) seem and Subject Control (SC) promise, and whether such late acquisitions are contributed by limited processing capacity or immature grammatical abilities. To figure it out, Mateu and Hyams make a comparative experimental investigation between a below-chance group and an at-/above-chance group of children. The overall analysis results manifest “intervention effects in early grammatical development” (p. 247). Specifically, neither StSR structures nor SC structures present the difficulty of acquisition per se. Rather, children would experience difficulties with such constructions involving a crossing dependency, which have been mastered independently as a result of diverse development rates. In addition, processing capacity plays a paramount role in predicting children’s performance in both structures. And clearly, there is no correlation between StSR and SC performance.

Poletto and Pollock, in Chapter 10, discuss the remnant movement and the smuggling approach in some romance interrogatives of French and Northern Italian dialects (NIDs), whose complicated properties could be derived from standard computations of either the Low Left Periphery (LLP) or the High Left Periphery (HLP). More importantly, one more question has been further put forward on why some languages utilize either the LLP or the HLP, or both. The authors argue that the movement of French interrogative pronouns to HLP is, in fact, the movement to a free relative layer. Further, the unique features of French que as both an interrogative and relative element could be elucidated in conjunction with a smuggling analysis of Subject Clitic Inversion (SCLI). Concurrently, a smuggling approach also involves numerous NIDs with the LLP and the HLP. Several self-evident conclusions have been gleaned that both the relative constructions of HLP and the interrogative constructions of LLP are actually activated by the syntactic derivation of questions, which are not primitives of the language faculty.

In the last chapter, Roberts delimits smuggling, related to ergativity and the Final-over-Final Condition (FOFC). On the whole, the integration of a smuggling analysis with typological patterns like ergative alignments and the Final-over-Final Condition could provide an appropriate explanation for the absence of SVO ergative language. It is noteworthy that SVO cannot be integrated with ergativity in the world’s languages, because some derived configurations whose smuggled category is internally head-initial usually give rise to violating FOFC. Besides, the implications of the analysis for both V-initial ergative languages and passives will also be explored in detail in this chapter.

The contributions to the volume open a door into fascinating applications of smuggling derivations. Theoretically, a smuggling approach is inconsistent with the so-called freezing ban (chapter 4), explicitly pointing out that movement out of a moved element is possible. In English tough-constructions, the smuggling analysis is argued to be superior to the traditional null Op analysis (chapter 4). Further, a smuggling analysis may indeed fill an important niche both for Visser’s Generalization (chapter 7) and Mahajan’s Generalization (chapter 11). Practically, smuggling has utility in providing an explanation for distinct syntactic structures, including punctual time adverbials (chapter 2), the dative alternation (chapter 5), measure phrase alternation (chapter 6), the can’t seem construction (chapter 8), and some interrogative clauses (chapter 10).

Although the volume is crammed full of technical terms, the use of language is never intimidating nor turgid and tends to read along quite handily, with the aid of enough annotations and examples to be self-contained and self-taught. Crisp, succinct, and well-labeled representative tree diagrams provide a visualization of syntactic derivation exemplified throughout the whole chapter, making content and descriptions more understandable and enlightening to the non-specialist; thereby, it is highly recommended for those interested in smuggling and related areas.

The application of smuggling is heavily skewed towards some specific language families, such as the Romance languages and the Germanic languages. More specifically, the relevant empirical research described in the volume is mainly limited to English (chapter 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9), Italian (chapter 3, 10), French (chapter 10). It does not have an authentic interpretation on the identical syntactic structure of other languages like Chinese, the so-called isolated language and the most used language in the world. Therefore, whether a smuggling approach is applicable to other language families is worthy of pondering over in the future.

To sum up, the volume brings together excellent syntacticians to offer a holistic view of seminal research on different aspects of smuggling. It has come to our knowledge that a smuggling approach, which meets the theoretical requirements of minimalist optimization and broadens its interpretable empirical scopes, could provide a minimalist generative account of some syntactic structures cross-linguistically. Such trail-blazing efforts may open up a possibility for new dimensions in syntactic derivation. All told, this book possesses scientific, rigorous and academic research background, leaving a momentous launch point for more cutting-edge research in syntactic derivation. It is thereby a tremendously useful accompaniment for those who have considerable knowledge of formal linguistics and are committed to the in-depth study of generative grammar.

Competing Interests

The authors have no competing interests to declare.


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