The present paper deals with noun phrases (DPs) in complex structures that appear clause-initially but seem to be connected in one way or other to the position of the embedded object. The initial set of data comprises examples of the German Long Passive and the Turkish Infinitival Double Passive that have received analyses involving restructuring and successive short movements, respectively.
It is an empirically and theoretically challenging task to establish whether Slavic languages also allow what can be called “distant objects” and to clarify the motivation and syntactic nature of this phenomenon. Russian was chosen as the object language to be investigated.
Out of the seven types of constructions that have been included in the investigation, two are ungrammatical – (i) Long Passive (type A) and (ii) Double SJA (type D). The following types represent well-formed structures: (iii) Preposed Embedded Objects (type B), (iv) the Double Passive (type C), (v) Control into an unaccusative embedding (type E), (vi) Raising out of an unaccusative embedding (type F), and (vii) Structures that contain an infinitival purpose clause with a non-overt operator (type G).
The well-formed structures differ with respect to the base position of the moved DP. The DP originates either in the embedding (types B, C, and F) or the matrix (types E and G). In either case, the DP moves in successive steps to occupy the topic position of the clause. Thus, movement by the DP is crucially motivated by requirements of information structuring. The resulting structures are economical in that syntactic options are used which are generally available (movement in successive steps, co-indexation mechanisms, chain formation, non-overt categories). In all cases, movement results in chains with the topicalized DP at the head and a trace in the base position of the embedded object at the foot.