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In generative syntax, cyclicity is a basic notion of subjacency that movement is bounded, i.e. can only cross one bounding (or: cyclic) node at the time.


In general S (or S') and NP have been singled out as being bounding nodes. Originally, cyclicity was considered a property of rules or rule systems: a set of rules are to be applied cyclically to successively larger dominating constituents. Presently, cyclicity is subsumed under the barriers theory.

See also


Utrecht Lexicon of Linguistics


  • Chomsky, Noam A. 1977. On Wh-movement. In Formal syntax. Culicover, P.W., Wasw, T. & Akmajian, A. (eds.), pages. San Francisco, London: Academic Press.
  • Chomsky, Noam A. 1986b. Barriers. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Chomsky, Noam A. 1993. A Minimalist Program for Linguistic Theory. MIT occasional papers in linguistics, 1-67.