Syntax Reading Group

The syntax reading group (SRG) is a group made up of mainly staff and postgraduates from the department of Phonetics and Linguistics at UCL who share an interest in minimalist syntax. Linguists from other departments or other colleges are very welcome to join us. The group meets every two weeks or so.

Each meeting has the format of a seminar, where a paper (which should be read in advance) is discussed by the participants. The different papers are chosen to cover a variety of topics which may reflect the interests and fields of specialization of the individual members of the group.

Venue: Room 101, Chandler House, 2 Wakefield Street
Time: Wednesdays 14.00-16.00 or 16.00-18.00.

If you want to join the group or have any queries, please email Zoe Belk and Ezekiel Panitz at


Links for published papers only work from UCL computers.

  • 26 March 2014 [CH room 201, 14:00-15:30]
    Patrick Elliott will present Ramchand & Svenonius (to appear).  Abstract: "The Cartographic enterprise has uncovered convincing evidence for a rich functional hierachy of fine-grained categories. This is difficult to square with the Minimalist Program, which argues that the role of UG should be minimised. In this paper, the authors attempt to reconcile the tension between the two approaches by arguing that many apparent ordering effects can be derived on the basis of factors including scope, polarity, and semantic category. A detailed account of the English auxiliary system is given as a case study. The residual 'Core Functional Hierarchy' is speculated to arise on the basis of nonlinguistic cognition."​ [download]
  • 5 March 2014 [CH room 116, 13:00-14:00] Matthew Reeve will present Toosarvandani 2013 on gapping and VP ellipsis. Toosarvandi argues that, contra Johnson 2009, gapping is not a form of across-the-board movement after low coordination, but is rather low coordination plus VP-ellipsis, which solves many of the problems present in the Johnson paper. [download]
  • 29 January 2014 [CH room 101, 14:00-15:30] Jiri Kaspar will present Artstein (2002).  Abstract: "Echo questions are interpreted through focus semantics. Echo questions must be entailed by previous discourse; focus is therefore not needed to mark givenness, and instead it is used to compute the question denotation: the questioned element, marked with a pitch accent, is a focus constituent, and the alternative set of the echo question is its question denotation, i.e. the set of possible answers. The focus strategy exempts echo questions from locality restrictions ("islands"), allows echo questions on parts of words, and allows second-order echo questions which denote sets of questions." [download]
  • 15 January 2014 [CH room G13, 15:00 to 16:30] Harris Constantinou will present Kotek & Erlewine (to appear). In this paper, the authors argue for the existence of covert pied-piping in wh-questions through a previously unnoticed pattern of intervention effects in superiority obeying English multiple wh-questions. The claim is that the preference of covert pied-piping is for movement of larger constituents, unlike overt pied-piping. It is argued that this discrepancy stems from conflicting requirements of PF and LF. [download]
  • 10 December 2013 [CH room 201, 13.00-14.30] Maria Varkanitsa will present Gryllia (2009), which explores the discourse-semantic properties of preverbal and postverbal object foci in Greek. Through different tests the author shows that preverbal object foci do not differ from their postverbal counterparts with respect to exhaustivity and contrastivity. However, evidence from backward anaphora and discourse continuation suggest that preverbal object foci are discourse topics. [download]
  • 19 November 2013 [CH room 116, 13.00-14.30] Nino Grill will be presenting Cinque 1992 on the pseudo-relative and acc-ing constructions after verbs of perception. [download]
  • 22 October 2013 [CH room 201, 14:30-15:30] Yasu Sudo will critically examine Kim's (2007) and Grosu's (2010) analyses of Internally Headed Relative Clauses (IHRCs) in Japanese (and Korean). Yasu will also discuss "tokoro"-relative clauses, which is another kind of IHRC construction in Japanese.  (This is a continuation from the October 8th meeting, but you don't need to have attended the previous meeting). [download]
  • 8 October 2013 [CH room 201, 13.00-14.30]. Yasu Sudo will be presenting Shimoyama 1999 on internally-headed relative clauses in Japanese. [download]
  • 22 May 2013 [CH room 201, 15:30-17:00] Hans Van de Koot and Laura Aldridge will present the main points of Beavers and Koontz-Garboden (2012: Linguistic Inquiry 43.3: 331-369) - "Manner and result in the roots of verbal meaning". In addition, Laura Aldridge will present the results of her own experimental work, which are directly related to the paper. The presentation will be followed by a discussion around the topic of the paper.
  • 16 January 2013 [CH room G03, 14:00-15:30] Ezekiel Panitz will present the main points of Fukaya (2012. Island-sensitivity in Japanese sluicing and some implications. In J. Merchant & A. Simpson (Eds.), Sluicing: Cross-Linguistic Perspectives (pp. 123-163). Oxford: Oxford University Press.) [download].  By attending to the range of interpretations available in Japanese and English sluicing examples, the author argues that sluicing does not repair island violations.  The presentation is followed by a discussion around the topic, including some general remarks on the interpretation of elliptical sentences -- an issue which bears directly upon the validity of Fukaya's arguments, as well as upon the more general program of establishing whether sluicing repairs island violations.
  • 12 December 2012 [CH room G03, 13:30-15:00] Elena Titov will be presenting Part I of her thesis (download) that proposes a novel analysis of Russian neutrally scrambled constructions and argues that the parametric variation in the availability of neutral scrambling of arguments cross-linguistically depends on the type of relative interpretative argument prominence that a language encodes via syntactic structure. When thematic and information-structural prominence relations do not coincide, only one of them can be structurally/linearly represented. The relation that is not structurally/linearly encoded must be made visible at the PF interface either via prosody or morphology. The analysis is covered by the first four chapters, with chapters 2 and 3 being the most relevant. If needed, Elena can present Part II at another session.
  • 21 November 2012 [CH room 201, 15.30-17.00] Zoë Belk will present the main points of Johnson 2011 (download). a paper that attempts to derive the differences in how Wh-movement and quantifier raising are pronounced. The presentation will be followed by a discussion around the topic. 
  • 27 September 2012 [CH room 101, 11:30-13:00] Cilene Rodrigues will be sharing the results of fieldwork on the syntax of embedding and recursion in Pirahã in our next UCL syntax reading group meeting (download).
  • 3 October 2012 [CH room 201, 15:30-17:00]. Nino Grillo will present the main points of Moulton, Keir (2013. Raising from the dead. Linguistic Inquiry 44, 1.) (download). By providing evidence from nominal quantification, the paper argues that modal adjectives (such as "necessary") embed covert clausal material. The presentation will be followed by a discussion around the topic.
  • 16 May 2012 [CH room 101, 3.30pm] Claire Grant will present the main points of Giorgi & Pianesi (1994) [download]. The paper develops a theoretical account that explains why in English the continuous reading of the present tense is impossible with all eventive predicates. It is argued that, the English verb has special morphosyntactic properties which set it apart from Romance and the other Germanic languages. It is shown that the morphosyntactic structure of the English verb largely determines its aspectual characteristics, and, consequently, the peculiar interpretive properties of the present tense. The authors propose that the way perfective events are related to anchoring events is universally constrained by what they term the punctuality constraint. They show that it is impossible to relate a perfective event to the speech event, and that this impossibility accounts for the crosslinguistic differences observed in the interpretation of the present tense.The presentation will be followed by a discussion around the topic.
  • 2 May 2012 [CH room 101, 4pm] Harris Constantinou will present the main points of Frey (2010) (download). The paper argues that the notion of emphasis has to be part of the grammar of German. It is demonstrated that in German, A-bar movement to the left periphery of a declarative clause is associated with a conventional implicature which encodes the emphatic interpretation of the moved item. The appropriate notion of emphasis is characterized and it is shown how it differs from a coarse concept of contrast. The presentation will be followed by a discussion around the topic. ] 
  • 28 March 2012 [CH room 101, 2pm] Maria Varkanitsa will present the main points of Hornstein (1996) (download). The paper argues for eliminating Quantifier Raising (QR) as a rule of Universal Grammar. It is suggested that the relative scope and binding properties that quantified NPs manifest is parasitic on the movements that all NPs undergo to satisfy grammatical demands such as case requirements and other species of feature checking.As always, the presentation will be followed by a discussion. ]
  • 14 March 2012 [CH room 101, 4pm] Matthew Reeve will present the main points of Sheena (2011) (download). The paper argues that relative clause extraposition should be analysed as base-generated (along the lines of Koster 2000), while complement clause extraposition should be analysed as involving 'scattered deletion' (i.e. leftward movement of the whole DP plus deletion of the relevant parts), in conformity with the LCA. As always, the presentation will be followed by a discussion.

  • 7 March 2012 [CH room 201, 4pm] Elena Titov will present the main points of Fanselow and Lenertova (2011) (download). The paper discusses the generalization that only the leftmost accented part of the semantic focus can be moved to the left periphery in German and Czech. It proposes that movement to the left periphery is generally triggered by an unspecific edge feature of C (Chomsky 2008) and its restrictions can be attributed to requirements of cyclic linearization, modifying the theory of cyclic linearization developed by Fox and Pesetsky (2005). As always, the presentation will be followed by a discussion.
  • 7 December 2011 [CH room 201, 4pm] Nathan Klinedinst will present (in a way accessible to non-semanticists) the main points of Abrusán (2011) (download from:, a paper which adopts a semantic approach towards explaining the unacceptability of wh-islands in degree questions. Nathan will then proceed to a brief comparison of Abrusán's (2011) approach and Eddy Ruys's approach (presented at Linguistics Seminar Series on 16 November 2011) focusing on the issue of what counts as a semantic explanation of some phenomenon. This will be followed by a discussion around the topic.
  • 9 November 2011 [CH room 101, 4pm] Misako Tanaka will present the main points of Cresti (1995) (title of the paper: Extraction and Reconstruction), which discusses a semantic filter on wh-islands and a semantic treatment of scope reconstruction. This will be followed by a discussion around the topic. [download]
  • 12 October 2011 [CH room 101, 4pm] Dorothea Hackman will present the main points of Speer et al (2011), a paper which demonstrates through speech production and categorization experiments that speakers and listeners reliably use correspondences between prosodic phrasing and syntactic constituent structure to resolve standing and temporary ambiguity. The presentation will be followed by a discussion around the topic. [download
  • 28 September 2011 [CH room 116, 4pm] The discussion of this session will revolve around Berwick et a;'s (2011) paper on the poverty of stimulus. [download]
  • 21 September 2011 [CH room 101, 4pm] The discussion will revolve around Perfors et al's (2011) paper on the learnability of abstract syntactic principles. [download]

13 July 2011 [CH room 301, 2pm] Klaus Abels will present his own work on the topic "Does sluicing repaire islands?". The presentation will be followed by a discussion around the topic.


8 June 2011 [CH room 201, 4pm] Harris Constantinou will present the main points of Eckardt (2001), a paper which investigates the meaning of the German intensifier "selbst". The presentation will be followed by a discussion around the topic.[download]

25 May 2011 [CH room 201, 2pm] Dr Akis Kechagias will present the main points of Cesceg and Kiefer (2009) (attached), a paper which proposes a different (from the traditional) view of information structure. The presentation will be followed by a discussion around the topic. [download]

27 April 2011 [CH room 101, 2pm] Misako Tanaka will present the main points of Takahahi(2002), a paper which proposes an overt movement analysis of split-QP constructions in Japanese and is an alternative to the classic unselective binding analysis that treats the split-QP constructions as another instance of donkey anaphora. The presentation will be followed by adiscussion around this topic.

Primary reading: Takahashi, Daiko (2002) Determiner raising and scope
shift, Linguistic Inquiry 33: 575-615. [download]
Optional reading: Shimoyama, Junko (2006) Indeterminate phrase
quantification in Japanese, Natural Language Semantics 14: 139-173. [download]

23 March 2011 [CH room 101, 4pm] M. R. Baltin. (2010) Deletion versus pro-forms: An overly simple dichotomy. Ms.NYU. [download]

Extra reading: B. Haddican.(2007). The structural deficiency of verbal pro-forms.  Linguistic Inquiry, 38(3):539–547 [download]

F. Chalcraft. (2006).Do-doubling in varieties of English.  In Workshop on Syntactic Doubling,, Amsterdam.[download]

M. Houser, L. Mikkelsen, and M. Toosarvandani. (2007) Verb phrase pronominalization in Danish: Deep or surface anaphora? In E. Brainbridge and B. Agbayani, editors, Proceedings of the Thirty-Fourth Western Conference on Linguistics, pages 183–195. University of California, Fresno, CA. [download]

2 March 2011 [CH room 301, 2pm] Aelbrecht, Lobke. 2009. Dutch modal complement ellipsis. Chapter 2. You have the right to remain silent: The syntactic licensin of ellipsis. Ms. Catholic University of Brussel. [download]

6 October 2010 [CH room tba, 4pm] Stroik, Thomas and Michael Putnam. The Structural Design of Language. Chapter 1: The Biolinguistic Turn. Ms. University of Missouri & Carson-Newman College. [download]

10 February 2010 [CH room 101, 4pm] Lahousse, Karen (2009). Specificational sentences and the influence of information structure on (anti-)connectivity effects. Journal of Linguistics 45, 139-166.

20 January 2010 [CH room 101, 4pm] Brisson, C. (2003) Plurals, 'all', and the Nonuniformity of Collective Predication. Linguistics and Philosophy 26.2: 129-184.

25 November 2009 Valentina Bianchi and Mara Frascarelli (2009). Is topic a root phenomenon? Ms. Università di Siena and Università di Roma III. [download]

30 March 2009 Joy Ruff (2009). Locus and Linkers. MS. UCL. [download]

9 March 2009 Akis Kechagias (2009). On the Left-Periphery: Decoupling A-bar movement and Quantification. MS. UCL. [download]

16, 23 February 2009 Cornelia Endriss. Quantificational topics: a scopal treatment of exceptional wide scope phenomena, to appear in Studies in Linguistics & Philosophy, Springer, a revised version of her PhD thesis (2006), University of Potsdam. [download]

26 January 2009 Gregory M. Kobele (2008).To appear in Local Modeling of Non-local Dependencies Artemis Alexiadou, Tibor Kiss and Gereon Muller (ed.)[download]

1 December 2008 Jonathan David Bobaljik and Susi Wurmbrand (2008). Word Order and Scope: transparent interfaces and the 3/4 signature. Ms. MIT. [download]

17 November 2008 Danny Fox and Uli Sauerland (2008). Illusive Scope of Universal Quantifiers. In G.Matos et al. (ed.): Interfaces in Linguistic Theory, Edições Colibri/Associação Portuguesa de Linguistica, Lisbon, 149–176. [download]

3 November 2008 Theodora Alexopoulou (2008). Binding Illusions and Resumption in Greek. MIT Working Papers in Linguistics, Volume on Greek Syntax and Semantics. [download]

9 June 2008 Irene Heim (1997). Predicates or Formulas? Evidence from Ellipsis. [This is based on Rooth's 1992 Ellipsis redundancy and reduction redundancy]

2 June 2008 Ruth Kempson and Akiko Kurosawa (2008). At the Syntax Pragmatics Interface: Japanese Relative Clause Construal. [download]

19 May 2008 Shoichi Takahashi and Sarah Hulsey (2008). Wholesale Late Merger: Beyondthe A/A'-distinction. To appear in Linguistic Inquiry [download]

5 March 2008 Svetlana McCoy (2003). Connecting Information Structure and Discourse Structure through “Kontrast”: The Case of Colloquial Russian Particles -TO, ŽE, and VED’. Journal of Logic, Language and Information 12: 319–335.

20 February 2008 Nikos Velegrakis (2008). Exploring the Structure of Greek Polydefinites. Ms. UCL. [download]

6 February 2008 Akis Kechagias (2008). VOS in Modern Greek: Syntax & Information Structure Revisited. Ms. UCL. [download]

5 December 2007 [room 3, 21 Gordon Square] J.-R. Hayashishita (2007). On the nature of the [sic] inverse scope. Ms, University of Otago. [download]

21 November 2007 [room 3, 21 Gordon Square] Hui Cao. On dou "all" and you "have" in Mandarin Chinese. [download]

17 October 2007 Peter Culicover and Ray Jackendoff (2006). Turn over control to the semantics! Syntax 9: 131-152.

10 October 2007 Alec Marantz (to appear). Phases and words. [download]

3 October 2007 Ilan Hazout (2004). The Syntax of Existential Constructions. Linguistic Inquiry 35, 393-430. [download]
There is a (short) reply by Edwin Williams to this article, which might also be interesting to read.
Williams, Edwin (2006). The Subject-Predicate Theory of There. Linguistic Inquiry 37, 648-651. [download]

13 June 2007 Bowers, John (2007). Arguments as Relations. Ms. Cornell University.

16 May 2007 at 14.00 Bowers, John (2007). Arguments as Relations. Ms. Cornell University.

14 March 2007 at 14.00 Bobaljik, Jonathan (2006). Where's Phi? Agreement as a Post-Syntactic Operation. Revised version. March 2006. [download]

28 February 2007 at 14.00 Kehler, Andrew (1996). Coherence and the Co-ordinate Structure Constraint. Proceedings of the Berkeley Linguistics Society 22. [download]

24 January 2007 Citko, Barbara (2005). On the nature of Merge: External Merge, Internal Merge, and Parallel Merge. Linguistic Inquiry 36(4): 475-496. [download]

6 December 2006 Hulsey, Sarah and Uli Sauerland (2006). Sorting out relative clauses. Natural Language Semantics 14, 111-137. [download]

1 November 2006 Buring, Daniel (2005). Bound to Bind. Linguistic Inquiry 36.2

18 October 2006 Levine, Robert D. and Ivan A. Sag (2003). Some empirical issues in the grammar of extraction. In: Stefan Müller (ed.), Proceedings of the HPSG03 Conference. CSLI Publications. [download]

4 October 2006 Haddican, Bill (2006). The structural deficiency of verbal pro-forms. Ms. University of York (revised version to appear in Linguistic Inquiry). [download]

14 June2006 Sauerland, Uli and Kazuko Yatsushiro (2004). Genitive Quantifiers in Japanese as Reverse Partitives. Ms. Centre for General Linguistics, Typology and Universals Research (ZAS).

31 May 2006 Richards, Marc (2004). Object Shift and Scrambling in North and West Germanic: A Case Study in Symmetrical Syntax. PhD, University of Cambridge. Chapter 3. [please e-mail if you haven't received the file]

1 March David Adger and Gillian Ramchand (2005). Merge and Move: Wh-dependencies revisited. Linguistic Inquiry 36:2, 161-193. [from UCL machine or with Athens authentication]

25 January 2006 Felicia Lee (2003). Anaphoric R-expressions as Bound Variables. Syntax 6.1: 84-114. [from UCL machine or with Athens authentication]

30 November 2005 [starts at 4.15pm] Edward Stabler (2004). Varieties of crossing dependencies. Published in Cognitive Science 28(5): 699-720.

16 November 2005 [starts at 3 pm instead of 4pm] James McCloskey (2000). Quantifier Float and Wh-Movement in an Irish English. Linguistic Inquiry 31:1, 57-84. [from UCL machine or with Athens authentication]

2 November 2005 [starts 3 pm instead of 4 pm] Caroline Heycock and Roberto Zamparelli (2003). Coordinated Bare Definites. Linguistic Inquiry 34:3, 443-469. [from UCL machine or with Athens authentication]

26 October 2005 Gisbert Fanselow (1988). Aufspaltung von NP und das Problem der "freien" Wortstellung. Linguistische Berichte 114: 91-113. [a copy of this article will be available from the PhD room, 21 GS]

16 September 2005 Noam Chomsky. (2004). On Phases. Ms. MIT. [freely downloadable]