The Fine Structure of the Left Periphery

  • Luigi Rizzi
Part of the Kluwer International Handbooks of Linguistics book series (KIHL)


Under current assumptions, the structural representation of a clause consists of three kinds of structural layers, each layer an instantiation of the X-bar schema:
  1. 1.

    The lexical layer, headed by the verb, the structural layer in which theta assignment takes place.

  2. 2.

    The inflectional layer, headed by functional heads corresponding to concrete or abstract morphological specifications on the verb, and responsible for the licensing of argumental features such as case and agreement.

  3. 3.

    The complementizer layer, typically headed by a free functional morpheme, and hosting topics and various operator-like elements such as interrogative and relative pronouns, focalized elements, etc.

In the mid eighties, each layer was identified with a single X-bar projection (VP, IP, CP), but this assumption quickly turned out to be too simplistic. Under the impact of Pollock’s (1989) influential analysis of verb movement, IP dissolved into a series of functional projections, each corresponding to system (Agr, T, Asp,…). Kayne’s (1984) binary branching hypothesis naturally led to the postulation of multiple VP layers for multi-argument verbs, e.g. along the lines of Larson (1988) and much related work.


Nobel Prize Small Clause Relative Pronoun Left Periphery Subject Extraction 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luigi Rizzi
    • 1
  1. 1.Università di SienaItaly

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