2016. Unpublished Ms., University of Leipzig/ZAS, Berlin. Currently under review.
In this paper, we return to the original empirical domain of the EPP, i.e. the requirement that certain subject positions be overtly filled, and argue that characterizing it in terms of a syntactic movement-triggering feature is an oversimplification, and indeed is misguided. The phenomenon described by the EPP in fact turns out to be quite challenging from a theoretical standpoint, as its properties look countercyclic under standard Minimalist models of grammatical architecture. The constraint describing the relevant ill-formed structures requires reference to phonological information, yet the mechanism that typically avoids violations of this constraint, i.e. movement to subject position, bears all the hallmarks of being a syntactic operation. Thus it looks like we have a syntactic operation triggered by phonological considerations, which is countercyclic. A novel approach to the EPP is thus required, which can handle its sensitivity to phonological factors, yet still fits in with our broader theory. This paper is intended as an initial contribution in this direction.