I was reading this analysis of the derivation below. And I wasn't familiar with the terminology "original Merge position." Is it just like "the base position"? Here is the sentence being parsed along with its translation:

De CHOMSKY varios libros han ganado premios internacionales, no de Trotsky.

Of Chomsky several books have won awards international-PL, not of Trotsky

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The example is taken from a paper by Angel L. Jiménez-Fernández wuwr.pl/awr/article/download/153/132

Under this tree diagram, Jiménez-Fernández explains,

On the CP phase different mechanisms apply: (1) The [Foc]- feature alongside the EF under C attracts the PP de Chomsky from its original Merge position in Spec-*v** P to Spec,CP. (2)...

Could someone tell me if there is a difference between the terminology "original Merge position" and "the base position", if so, what exactly is the difference?

1 Answer 1


Generative theories of syntax generally propose a few different "operations", which are invoked in various ways to build the tree. If you're a computationalist, you might prefer to call these "functions"; by convention, these operations are named with single capitalized words.

The most basic of these operations is Merge, which attaches a head to its complement or specifier. Another one is Move, which takes an element that's already been Merged and reattaches it somewhere higher in the tree. (I think nowadays this is generally called Agree rather than Move, since the same mechanism can handle both agreement and movement, but Move makes it more obvious what it's doing.)

So the "Merge position" of an element is where it's originally attached, as opposed to where it moves later in the derivation. "Base position" isn't a term I can remember specifically seeing anywhere, but it presumably means the same thing.

  • 1
    Thank you so so much for saving my day yet again by teaching me some more knowledge about the fundamentals of generative grammar. I saw the use of the term "the base position" from Carnie's introductory textbook on syntax.
    – Jenny
    Jan 4, 2022 at 7:42

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