Formal device, introduced in Chomsky (1998); a lexical array is the set of lexical items that will be used in a derivation. The notion is similar to numeration; the only difference is that the elements in a numeration bear indices, while the elements in a lexical array do not. The empirical evidence for the existence of lexical arrays comes from sentences like the following:
(i) a. Therei is likely [A ti to be [a proof discovered]]. b. * Therei is likely [A a proof to be [ ti discovered]].
At stage A of the derivation, T's EPP-feature must be checked. This could be done by either merger of there, or movement of a proof. Chomsky argues that (b) is ungrammatical because a proof has been moved before the expletive is inserted, and this violates Merge-over-Move.
This is indirect evidence for the existence of lexical arrays, because the principle of Merge-over-Move doesn't make sense if we don't have a restricted set of accessible elements; if the lexicon would be fully accessible during the derivation, and we have Merge-over-Move, we would expect every sentence to have an expletive satisfying the EPP, since merger of an expletive is cheaper than moving the subject.
See also lexical subarray.
- Chomsky, N. 1998. Minimalist inquiries: the framework, MIT working papers in linguistics.