On workspaces in syntax
Diego Krivochen
October 2020

Syntactic theory has traditionally adopted a constructivist approach, in which a set of atomic elements are manipulated by combinatory operations to yield derived, complex elements. Syntactic structure is thus seen as the result or discrete recursive combinatorics over lexical items which get assembled into phrases, which are themselves combined to form sentences. This view is common to European and American structuralism and different incarnations of generative grammar, transformational and non-transformational. Since at least Uriagereka (2002), there has been some attention paid to the fact that syntactic operations must apply somewhere, particularly when copying and movement operations are considered. Contemporary generative theory (e.g., Chomsky, 2019) has thus somewhat acknowledged the importance of formalising aspects of the spaces in which elements are manipulated, but it is still a vastly underexplored area. In this paper we explore the concept of workspace and its role in current generative theory, aiming at a precise characterisation of what workspaces are and how their properties determine possible syntactic configurations. We further analyse the consequences of conceptualising ‘syntax’ as a set of operations that affect spaces rather than combine discrete elements.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/005321
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Ms. Comments welcome.
keywords: workspaces; locality; topology; copy; movement; phrase markers, syntax
previous versions: v1 [July 2020]
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