This is the first entry-level introduction to generative syntax to develop a foundational approach that rationally reconstructs syntactic theory from the perspective of current research. It shows how basic grammatical concepts are incorporated into general principles that answer some of the fundamental questions of syntactic analysis, including the relationships between lexical and phrasal categories, the integration of transformations, the restricted distribution of NPs; (lexical and nonlexical), and levels of syntactic representation.
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.
These essays by an outstanding group of linguists present case studies in contemporary comparative grammar, illustrating the rich and varied ways in which the principles and parameters framework of generative grammar can provide explanations for both the underlying universal properties of the world's languages and the ways in which they differ. The final essay by Noam Chomsky offers a new perspective on the principles and parameters approach to comparative grammar.