Generalized search and cyclic derivation by phase: A preliminary study

Takaomi Kato, Masakazu Kuno, Hiroki Narita, Mihoko Zushi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Merge builds syntactic objects, but Merge alone cannot capture the syntactic relations established between syntactic objects. These relations include Agree(ment), chain-formation, and binding. In order to capture them in a unified manner, this chapter proposes that syntax is equipped with a general search mechanism, which we call Search. We characterize Search as an operation that establishes a relation between identical (complexes of) features. We also pose the question: what might the basic operations of syntax be? In the course of investigating this question, we scrutinize some of the putative operations in syntax, such as feature-valuation, feature-inheritance, and Transfer, and draw the conclusion that they are unnecessary and therefore should be eliminated. Our answer to the above question will thus be that Merge and Search are the only basic operations of syntax. The possibility that Search might be formally reduced to Merge is further suggested, in which case there would be only one fundamental operation of syntax, i.e., Merge, with an additional operation Search derived from it.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMerge in the Mind-Brain
Subtitle of host publicationEssays on Theoretical Linguistics and the Neuroscience of Language
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781315442792
ISBN (Print)9781138216143
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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