‘Single Cycle’ Languages
Implications for Cyclicity, Recursion and Acquisition
Russian and Polish consistently lack standard ‘long-distance’, or cross-clausal, syntactic movement dependencies in both A- and A′- domains: movement is restricted to a finite tensed clause. I refer to languages that display this radical version of locality as ‘single cycle’ languages. Given that long-distance dependencies are necessarily formed over a structure built in a recursive manner (e.g. with iterated CP or TP node), the existence of ‘single cycle’ languages highlights the need to separate the property of recursion from the ability of basic assembly, in structure building. With such separation, it becomes possible to account for ‘single cycle’ languages by hypothesizing that the device responsible for recursion is inoperative in these languages. The current minimalist conception of Merge, in contrast, inherently combines recursion with other ‘assembling’ properties. I argue, therefore, for a method of structure building that goes back to LSLT and is currently implemented in Tree Adjoining Grammars in which (clausal) recursion is relegated to a separate operation called Adjoining. ‘Single cycle’ languages thus provide direct evidence that something like Adjoining is independently needed in the grammar.