Linguistics 4248A
Advanced Syntactic Analysis

  • Syllabus -TBA

Prerequisite(s): Permission of the program.

Course Description

This course explores the empirical and theoretical consequences of assuming that compositional syntax strictly operates on the phonological matrices of lexical words. Under this view, lexical words are treated as labels: a word is, in essence, as specific formal object that is recognized as relevant for a language because it has at least one established use, a meaning. The meaning itself, however, is not relevant for grammatical theory because it is established by social conventions. My position is that distinctions that rely on social conventions should be excluded of the formal theory of grammar. What is left of lexical words, then, is their formal constitution. Under this view, many basic distinctions which are traditionally viewed as lexical (occurring at the level of the input, the head, of the structure) are assumed to be compositionally constructed at the level of the constituent, at the output of syntax.

The first few courses present the theorical and conceptual motivations behind a radical formal grammar. The course then presents a rule system which that only uses the phonological matrix of lexical words in the composition of sentences: the two-rule syntax proposed introduces at the level of constituent the traditional categories and semantic types that are traditionally assumed to be properties of lexical form. As a fragment of English is developed during the course to present the system, students will get the opportunity to compare this approach to standard analysis of many well-known constructions of English.