Like other recent work in the field of generative-transformational grammar, this book developed from a realization that many problems in linguistics involve semantics too deeply to be solved insightfully within the syntactic theory of Noam Chomsky's Aspect of the Theory of Syntax. Dr Jackendoff has attempted to take a broader view of semantics, studying the important contribution it makes to the syntactic patterns of English.
The research is carried out in the framework of an interpretive theory, that is, a theory of grammar in which syntactic structures are given interpretations by an autonomous syntactic component. The book investigates a wide variety of semantic rules, stating them in considerable detail and extensively treating their consequences for the syntactic component of the grammar. In particular, it is shown that the hypothesis that transformations do not change meaning must be abandoned; but equally stringent restrictions on transformations are formulated within the interpretive theory.
Among the areas of grammar discussed are the well-known problems of case relations, pronominalization, negation, and quantifiers. In addition, the author presents semantic analyses of such neglected areas as adverbs and intonation contours; he also proposes radically new approaches to the so-called Crossover Principle, the control problem for complement subjects, parentheticals, and the interpretation of nonspecific noun phrases.
About the Author
Ray Jackendoff is Seth Merrin Professor of Philosophy and Codirector of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. He is the author of many books, including Foundations of Language.