A null theory of scrambling

Hubert Haider
2021 Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft  
AbstractGrammars are decomposable. On the one hand, an adequate characterization of a given utterance factorizes the contributions of each subsystem of grammar and on the other hand, it thereby reduces the apparent overall complexity to the interaction of less complex subsystems. Scrambling is an apt showcase. Its complicated properties are not inherent properties of a syntactic construction but the result of the interaction of phrase structuring with other subsystems of grammar, and in
more » ... mar, and in particular with the information-structuring (IS) subsystem of pragmatics. Scrambling is "utilized" rather than "triggered". In general, when syntax admits structural variation, this potential is captured and utilized by other subsystems of grammar. Germanic and Slavic languages are handy testimonies for rejecting syntactic trigger scenarios not only for scrambling but also for other constructions with displaced items. Cross-linguistically, scrambling is not a matter of syntactical determinism. For an adequate syntactical account of scrambling it is sufficient to understand and explain the structural conditions that make a language a scrambling language. The pragmatic functions that utilize scrambling structures are not a concern of syntax. They are syntactically not causal and epiphenomenal to syntax.
doi:10.1515/zfs-2020-2019 fatcat:spjjqinifjb5xgrjs5chxgbbqy