MM2: Syntax

Haus 35:1.03

Next important date:
June 13: Squib 2
(worth 20% of the grade)

Class squibs
First squib
Second squib

List of classes
General info
Class 1 (April 11)
Class 2 (April 18)
Class 3 (April 25)
Class 4 (May 3)
Class 5 (May 9)
Class 6 (May 16)
Class 7 (May 23)
Class 8 (May 30)
Class 9 (June 6)
Class 10 (June 13)
Class 11 (June 20)
Class 12 (June 27)
Class 13 (July 4)
Class 14 (July 11)

Class 11: June 20

Topic: Verbal decomposition

Required reading:

Additional reading: Assignment: Draw the trees for the following two sentences, and explain how your solution accounts for the observed readings of wieder.

(1) ...dass ich die Tür wieder öffnete.
(2) ...dass ich wieder die Tür öffnete.

If you need a hint, you may want to consult the following paper.

Class 10: June 13

Topic: Agreement (IV): split agreement; position-dependent agreement; the clitic/agreement distinction

Required reading:

Additional reading:

Class 9: June 6

Topic: Agreement (III): context sensitive agreement

Required reading:

Class 8: May 30

Topic: Agreement (II): defective intervention effects

Required reading:

Class 7: May 23

Topic: Agreement and Case (I)

Required reading:

Class 6: May 16

Topic: Movement and locality (III)

Required reading:

Additional reading:

Class 5: May 9

Topic: Movement and locality (II)

Required reading:

Additional reading:

First squib

Class 4: May 3

Topic: Movement and locality (I)

Required reading:

Additional reading:

Class 3: April 25

Topic: The copy theory of movement: some evidence

Required reading: Nunes, Jairo. 2004. Sideward movement and linearization of chains. Cambridge: MIT Press (chapter 1).

Additional reading:

Class 2: April 19

Topic: phrase structure and linearization

Required reading: Epstein, Samuel, Erich Groat, Kawashima, and Hisatsugu Kitahara. 1998. A derivational approach to syntactic relations. Oxford: Oxford University Press (chapter 1).

Additional reading:

Summary of the class:

coming soon

Class 1: April 12

Topic: Syntactic theory in four easy steps

Reading: no required reading, since this was the first class. If you need further information about the concepts we have talked about in this class, you can try any standard textbook in syntax. Recommendations include:

In addition, at some point you should try to have a look at both Syntactic Structures (Chomsky 1957) and Aspects of the Theory of Syntax (Chomsky 1965). We will cover some of Chomsky's more recent writings as we go along.

Summary of the class

A good syntactic theory is one that allows us to make internally consistent analyses of a great number of constructions. By this, I mean that it allows us to get new insights into the constructions themselves and make predictions about other aspects of the language. In this course, we are going to cover what is usually called Transformational Grammar, especially its most recent version, known as Minimalism. We will have time to geek out on more advanced stuff later on in the course, but today we are going to start with the very basics.

Any syntactic theory, if it wants to be successful, has to have four components, which I list below. The differences between theories lie on the particular assumptions we make about each of these components. Whenever I am discussing an assumption specific to Minimalism (not shared by other frameworks), I will explicitly indicate so.

Component #1: features.

Some people are likely to think that the basic units of a syntactic theory are words, or morphemes. This is correct in some theories, but in Minimalism, the basic unit is the feature, which by convention we enclose in [square brackets]. A feature is, by definition, an indivisible bit of information about syntax. If you find and "feature" that can be subdivided into two or more sub-features, what you have in your hands is not a feature, but rather a feature matrix (plural: matrices), also called a feature set or a feature bundle. A syntactic feature is whatever kind of information that is relevant for syntax ---e.g., number, person, tense, aspect, animacy, etc.

We need to say a bit more about how information is encoded inside each feature. I am going to present three different (non-equivalent) systems. In this course, we will use either binary or privative features. I will let you know if and when the difference between the two is theoretically significant.

Component #2: the lexicon.

Component #3: the computational system.

Component #4: interfaces.

General information about this class.