Bhatt Colloquium

May 16
Harper 103
University of Massachusetts Amherst
An Argument for Semantically Contentful Head Movement

(Joint work with Stefan Keine)

We develop an argument that head movement may have semantic effects and that it can hence not be a PF phenomenon. The argument is based on novel facts regarding scope in infinitival complementation structures in German. We show that every element inside the infinitival clause must take scope over the matrix verb if the embedded clause is a VP that remains in situ. If, by contrast, the embedded clause is either a vP or a VP that undergoes movement, no such wide scope is possible. We propose that wide scope of embedded elements is the result of syntactic verb cluster formation: The infinitival verb incorporates into the higher verb. To obtain the observed scope facts, we suggest that the verb cluster is semantically interpreted via Function Composition. Supplemented with standard assumptions about the interpretation of movement, this account derives the wide scope of material inside the embedded clause. To properly constrain the application of verb cluster formation, we treat it as an instance of symmetry-breaking movement.