Verb movement and Constituent Permutation in Basque investigates the issue of ‘free’ word order in a highly inflectional language such as Basque. It is argued that free permutation is only apparat, since variation in word order can change the meaning of a sentence. Given the important role played by focus in the ordering of the constituents of a clause in Basque, it is argued that the syntactic configurations must fit the structure appropriate for the interpretation of a constituent as wide or narrow focus. Focused elements appear in immediate preverbal position, as a result of the conjunction of two factors: the verb-final character of Basque and the rules of main sentence stress assignment. When the verb appears in final position, it is argued that focus is assigned in-situ. In addition, focused elements can appear in sentence-initial position, immediately followed by the verb. I argue that these constructions are the result of left-dislocation of the focused constituent. Given that the canonical order in Basque is S IO O V, orderings such as Focus-verb-XP-YP are taken as evidence for leftward verb movement. Further support for the claim that the verb moves in Basque is provided by the distribution of the manner adverbs, binding and scope effects, idioms and the position of postverbal Small Clause complements.
This book is of interest to a general syntactic and semantic readership.