Finnish finite clause exhibits topic prominence in the sense that the preverbal subject position is occupied by the topic (for example, by the direct object topic), not necessarily by the grammatical subject. Three currently unexplained facts concerning the Finnish free word order phenomenon and topicalization are noted in this paper: subject-verb agreement interacts with word order; the preverbal “topic” position is not reserved exclusively for topics; and noun phrase (DP) arguments are also able to dislocate to the right edge of a (potentially very long) finite clause. A generalized morphosyntactic agreement mechanism that requires the presence of nominal phi-features inside the highest finite projection of a clause is posited to explain the link between agreement and word order. The problem with topicality is accounted for by assuming that the topic-focus mechanism operates outside of narrow syntax. Free word order and non-configurationality are argued to result from argument adjunction, not from movement. Finally, it is concluded that the Finnish EPP is connected neither to morphosyntax nor to discourse.
Finnish wh-movement exhibits internal roll-up movement with pied-piping and is therefore overtly successive-cyclic. On the other hand, its morphosyntax is nonlocal, suggesting countercyclic behavior. The existence of overtly cyclic computations and nonlocal agreement penetrating nearly every cyclic domain constitutes a near contradiction in this language. A solution is proposed which partially resurrects the notion of d-structure: grammatical operations are cyclic and operate in small phases (as indicated by Finnish successive cyclic wh-movement), but some operations, Agree in particular, access leftover copies of elements in situ and are not restricted by the phase impenetrability condition (PIC). PIC restricts operator/A-bar movement, not morphosyntax.
Theories of A′-movement can be classified on the basis of how they relate primary movement (movement to the final scope position) to secondary movement (intermediate movement). The standard view maintains that primary movement and secondary movement are motivated and triggered by different grammatical factors. For instance, it can be assumed that primary movement is what ultimately drives syntactic operations while secondary operations have a supporting auxiliary role and serve as a partial implementation of primary movement. Some recent hypotheses, such as Chomsky’s edge feature (EF) hypothesis, have opened up the possibility of narrowing the gap between these two operations. Here we argue on the basis of Finnish wh-movement that there is no difference between primary and secondary A′-movement; they have exactly the same triggers and constraints, in addition to having other properties in common. We develop a theory of A′-movement that relies on a discourse-active edge feature at a phrase/phase head.