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Hardcover | Out of Print | 464 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 1 graph | October 2017 | ISBN: 9780262036696
Paperback | $40.00 X | £32.95 | 464 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 1 graph | October 2017 | ISBN: 9780262534161
eBook | $28.00 X | October 2017 | ISBN: 9780262342001
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The Final-Over-Final Condition

A Syntactic Universal
Foreword by David Pesetsky


This book presents evidence for a universal word order constraint, the Final-over-Final Condition (FOFC), and discusses the theoretical implications of this phenomenon. FOFC is a syntactic condition that disallows structures where a head-initial phrase is contained in a head-final phrase in the same extended projection/domain. The authors argue that FOFC is a linguistic universal, not just a strong tendency, and not a constraint on processing. They discuss the effects of the universal in various domains, including the noun phrase, the adjective phrase, the verb phrase, and the clause. The book draws on data from a wide range of languages, including Hindi, Turkish, Basque, Finnish, Afrikaans, German, Hungarian, French, English, Italian, Romanian, Arabic, Hebrew, Mandarin, Pontic Greek, Bagirmi, Dholuo, and Thai.

FOFC, the authors argue, is important because it is the only known example of a word order asymmetry pertaining to the order of heads. As such, it has significant repercussions for theories connecting the narrow syntax to linear order.

About the Authors

Michelle Sheehan is Reader in Linguistics in the Department of English and Media at Anglia Ruskin University.

Theresa Biberauer is Principal Research Associate in the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at the University of Cambridge and Professor in the Department of General Linguistics at Stellenbosch University, South Africa.

Ian Roberts is Professor of Linguistics and Professorial Fellow at Downing College at the University of Cambridge.

Anders Holmberg is Professor of Theoretical Linguistics at Newcastle University and Director of Research at the University of Cambridge.


“I consider the discovery and development of the ‘Final-Over-Final Condition’ to be the most exciting advance in the study of word order in recent years—and therefore in the broader study of crosslinguistic variation. This volume is fascinating in the range of languages and constructions it draws on, the range of linguistic considerations it brings to bear on the issue, and—not least—in the different complementary perspectives that each of the authors brings to the topic. It will repay careful consideration on every level.”
Mark Baker, Distinguished Professor, Linguistics and Cognitive Science, Rutgers University; author of The Syntax of Agreement and Concord
“This book reminds us how much fun it is to do syntax. Such a combination of detailed analysis with serious architectural assessment should open the kind of discussion that makes our field young all over again.”
Juan Uriagereka, Professor, University of Maryland; author of Spell-Out and the Minimalist Program and Syntactic Anchors