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trace theory

SYNTAX: theory about traces left by movement. This theory assumes that if an element X has been moved in the course of a derivation, it has left a trace in its original position. EXAMPLE: in (i) the NP John is moved while leaving a trace t, indicating its d-structure position.

(i) Johni seems [ti to have left]
Since theta-marking occurs at d-structure, it is possible to determine the thematic role of the moved NP via its trace. The concept of a trace is crucial to the theory of movement and to bounding theory, because a trace can be treated as an empty category. See NP-trace, wh-trace.
LIT. Chomsky, N. (1986a)
Chomsky, N. (1981)
Chomsky, N. (1973)
Riemsdijk, H. van and E. Williams (1986)