Jul 102021

Ezer Rasin, David Pesetsky & I have written up our recent WCCFL talk, A re-evaluation of Arad’s argument for roots. The paper re-examines the arguments in Arad 2003, 2005 in favor of the existence of category-neutral roots in the syntax. This work by Arad is widely considered sound, and is frequently cited as the piece de resistance for the existence of uncategorized roots in syntax. It has also played a key role in debates about locality restrictions on semantic and phonological interpretation (Borer 2009; Harley 2014a,b; Marantz 2013; among many others). We find, however, that none of the arguments in Arad 2003, 2005 stand up to scrutiny.

This does not mean, of course, that there are not category-neutral roots in the syntax; only that the arguments in Arad 2003, 2005 fail to support such a conclusion. I personally think there is a much simpler argument to be had in favor this conclusion. (See here, specifically the part starting with “Our story begins with Semitic languages.”) There exist differences of opinion among the three of us about how convincing of an argument that is; but all of that is beyond the scope of this short paper.

The paper can be downloaded here.

(Backup link in case lingbuzz is down: here.)