Labeling by Minimal Search: Implications for Successive- Cyclic A-Movement and the Conception of the Postulate "Phase"

Samuel David Epstein, Hisatsugu Kitahara, T. Daniel Seely

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)


We argue that Chomsky's (2013) "label identification by minimal search" explains "obligatory exit" from intermediate positions, not only in the successive-cyclic Ā-movement phenomena that Chomsky analyzes, but also in (phase-internal) successive-cyclic A-movement. Moreover, it does so by employing simplest Merge and third-factor minimal search for label identification. Our extension of Chomsky's analysis to A-movement operates without any appeal to Merge-over-Move or to lexical arrays or subarrays. This in turn renders the concept "phase" itself no longer necessary in analyzing the core cases of illicit A-movement, shown to reduce to labeling failure. Implications of this result and the nature of the long-standing evidence for strict cyclicity are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-481
Number of pages19
JournalLinguistic Inquiry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan 1



  • A-movement
  • Labeling
  • Minimal search
  • Phases
  • Simplest Merge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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