Unvalued interpretable features and topic A-movement in Chinese raising modal constructions

Chao Ting Tim Chou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this paper is three-fold: (i) I argue that topic A-movement exists in Chinese. Specifically, I show that argument displacement in Chinese raising modal constructions (RMC) containing raising modals like yinggai 'should' and keneng 'likely' is A-movement to spec-TP, yet semantically exhibits topicality; (ii) even though Miyagawa's (2010) extension of Chomsky's (2007, 2008) feature inheritance hypothesis to the Topic feature provides a possible derivational system to capture topic A-movement in this construction, I show that object topic A-movement in this construction is underivable under Miyagawa's (2010) probe-driven system of movement based on feature inheritance. This is because of a timing problem regarding feature inheritance and Chomsky's (2001) Phase-Impenetrability Condition independently noted by Epstein et al. (2012) and Richards (2011); (iii) I propose that two major modifications are needed to maintain the basic assumptions of Miyagawa (2010) to derive object topic A-movement in RMC: (a) a more fine-grained characterization of topic A-movement on the basis of the dissociation of feature interpretability and feature valuation (see Pesetsky and Torrego, 2007; Carstens, 2010, 2011; Bošković, in press), and (b) the adoption of Bošković's (2007) moving-element-driven theory of movement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-147
Number of pages30
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • A-movement
  • Chinese syntax
  • Feature inheritance
  • Minimalism
  • Phase-Impenetrability Condition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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