Elizabeth Ritter, Martina Wiltschko

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

50 Scopus citations


The main claim of this paper is that while the core function of the category INFL is universally fixed, its substantive feature content is not. The dissociation of INFL from its features immediately predicts that languages can display disparity in the substantive content of INFL - the only restriction being that the selected formal features must be compatible with the core function of INFL. We show that this prediction is borne out in Halkomelem (Salish) where the substantive content of INFL is Location, and in Blackfoot (Algonquian), where it is Person. We show that both Location and Person are functionally equivalent toTense, formally identical toTense, and in complementary distribution with it, and with each other. These facts provide compelling support for our hypothesis that the content of functional categories is subject to parametric variation, but they are problematic for the cartographic approach, which assumes that Universal Grammar provides a template of functional positions with fixed syntactico-semantic content.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAlternatives to Cartography
PublisherDe Gruyter Mouton
Number of pages49
ISBN (Electronic)9783110217124
ISBN (Print)9783110206036
StatePublished - 15 Dec 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (all)
  • Social Sciences (all)


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