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Theoretical Linguistics

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Studies in Honor of Paul Kiparsky

Paul Kiparsky's work in linguistics has been wide-ranging and fundamental. His contributions as a scholar and teacher have transformed virtually every subfield of contemporary linguistics, from generative phonology to poetic theory. This collection of essays on the word—the fundamental entity of language—by Kiparsky's colleagues, students, and teachers reflects the distinctive focus of his own attention and his influence in the field.

Functional Categories and Hierarchical Structure

Recent research on the syntax of signed languages has revealed that, apart from some modality-specific differences, signed languages are organized according to the same underlying principles as spoken languages. This book addresses the organization and distribution of functional categories in American Sign Language (ASL), focusing on tense, agreement, and wh-constructions.

Essays in Honor of Jean-Roger Vergnaud

Jean-Roger Vergnaud’s work on the foundational issues in linguistics has proved influential over the past three decades. At MIT in 1974, Vergnaud (now holder of the Andrew W. Mellon Professorship in Humanities at the University of Southern California) made a proposal in his Ph.D. thesis that has since become, in somewhat modified form, the standard analysis for the derivation of relative clauses. Vergnaud later integrated the proposal within a broader theory of movement and abstract case. These topics have remained central to theoretical linguistics.

This concise work offers a compositional theory of verbal argument structure in natural languages that focuses on how arguments that are not “core” arguments of the verb (arguments that are not introduced by verbal roots themselves) are introduced into argument structures. Liina Pylkkänen shows that the type of argument structure variation that allows additional noncore arguments is a pervasive property of human language and that most languages have verbs that exhibit this behavior.

Optimal and Costly Computations

In this monograph Tanya Reinhart discusses strategies enabling the interface of different cognitive systems, which she identifies as the systems of concepts, inference, context, and sound. Her point of departure is Noam Chomsky's hypothesis that language is optimally designed--namely, that in many cases, the bare minimum needed for constructing syntactic derivations is sufficient for the full needs of the interface. Deviations from this principle are viewed as imperfections.The book covers in depth four areas of the interface: quantifier scope, focus, anaphora resolution, and implicatures.

The Syntax of Predication, Predicate Inversion, and Copulas

In Relators and Linkers, Marcel den Dikken presents a syntax of predication and the inversion of the predicate around its subject, emphasizing meaningless elements (elements with no semantic load) that play an essential role in the establishment and syntactic manipulation of predication relationships. One such element, the RELATOR, mediates the relationship between a predicate and its subject in the base representation of predication structures. A second, the LINKER, connects the predicate to its subject in Predicate Inversion constructions.

From Neural Computation to Optimality-Theoretic Grammar Volume II: Linguistic and Philosophical Implications

Despite their apparently divergent accounts of higher cognition, cognitive theories based on neural computation and those employing symbolic computation can in fact strengthen one another. To substantiate this controversial claim, this landmark work develops in depth a cognitive architecture based in neural computation but supporting formally explicit higher-level symbolic descriptions, including new grammar formalisms.

From Neural Computation to Optimality-Theoretic Grammar Volume I: Cognitive Architecture

"If you turn left at the next corner, you will see a blue house at the end of the street." That sentence—a conditional—might be true even though it is possible that you will not see a blue house at the end of the street when you turn left at the next corner. A moving van may block your view; the house may have been painted pink; a crow might swoop down and peck out your eyes. Still, in some contexts, we might ignore these possibilities and correctly assert the conditional.

A Theory of the Morphology-Syntax Interface

This important monograph offers a resolution to the debate in theoretical linguistics over the role of syntactic head movement in word formation. It does so by synthesizing the syntactic and lexicalist approaches on the basis of the empirical data that support each side.

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