On feature interpretability and inheritance

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The aim of this paper is to evaluate the theoretical motivations given for feature inheritance, and the workings and distribution thereof. The standard motivations for feature inheritance in the literature are shown not to be tenable. The rationale for feature inheritance given in the literature is based on the requirement that Value and Transfer happen at the same time. This requirement falls through, however; hence, feature ineritance cannot be derived on that basis. Feature inheritance can instead be enforced as the only way to meet a constraint to the effect that the EPP property of a phase head must be satisfied within the minimal structure created by Merge of the phase head with its complement. Syntax then requires feature inheritance as long as ‘EPP’ is necessary and is defined as a Spec–Head relation. Both of these premises are subjected to close scrutiny in the paper, as is the question of whether the predicates ‘(un)interpretable’ and ‘(un)valued’ both need to be recognised by syntactic theory.


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