The Role of Movement Transformation in Recursiveness: Evidence from English and Standard Yorùbá

Issa O. Sanusi


Human beings are naturally endowed with innate ability with which they make use of finite number of grammatical constituents to generate infinite number of acceptable and grammatical sentences, through a linguistic process known as recursion. What is really marvelous about recursion is the fact that, in addition to its pervasiveness among natural languages, the resultant amazing sentences produced through the process are always rule-governed. Such derived sentences can be subjected to grammaticality judgement by any native speaker of the language in which the sentences are produced; no matter how long the sentences might be. The aim of this paper is to present empirical data from English and Standard Yorùbá1 (two languages that are genetically unrelated)2 for the purpose of illustrating how the syntactic creativity of recursiveness produces new meanings and nuances of meanings through the application of a movement transformation like ‘relativization’ to a given basic sentence. The Principles and Parameters (P&P) theory is employed as a theoretical framework for our analysis in this paper.

Keywords: Recursion, Movement transformation, Relativization, English, Standard Yorùbá


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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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