Movement Theory and Constraints in Syntax

C. T. James Huang*, Hiroki Narita

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This article discusses the considerations that motivate the postulation of movement transformations in generative linguistics, and traces the evolution of movement theory from the early days of transformational grammar through the development of trace theory, modularity, and Move a, to the contemporary theory of Internal Merge. It further describes the development of the theory of movement constraints, starting from the A-over-A Principle and construction-specific island constraints to various subsequent approaches, incorporating notions like cyclicity, headedness, traces, and economy. The notion of covert movement is also briefly reviewed, in light of the syntax-semantics interface and crosslinguistic parametric variations.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences: Second Edition
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9780080970875
ISBN (Print)9780080970868
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Mar 26
Externally publishedYes


  • A-over-A Principle
  • Barrier
  • Condition on Extraction Domain (CED)
  • Empty Category Principle (ECP)
  • Government
  • Island
  • Merge
  • Minimalist Program
  • Minimality
  • Move a
  • Movement
  • Phase
  • Subjacency
  • Trace
  • Transformation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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