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Theoretical Linguistics

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The Theta System

One of Tanya Reinhart’s major contributions to linguistic theory is the development of the Theta System (TS), a theory of the interface between the system of concepts and the linguistic computational system. Reinhart introduced her theory in a seminal paper, “The Theta System: Syntactic Realization of Verbal Concepts” (2000) and subsequently published other papers with further theoretical development. Although Reinhart continued to work on the Theta System, she had not completed a planned Linguistic Inquiry volume on the topic before her untimely death in 2007.

A Theory of Linguistic Computation and Storage

Language allows us to express and comprehend an unbounded number of thoughts. This fundamental and much-celebrated property is made possible by a division of labor between a large inventory of stored items (e.g., affixes, words, idioms) and a computational system that productively combines these stored units on the fly to create a potentially unlimited array of new expressions. A language learner must discover a language’s productive, reusable units and determine which computational processes can give rise to new expressions.

This book revives and reinterprets a persistent intuition running through much of the classical work: that the unitary appearance of Obligatory Control into complements conceals an underlying duality of structure and mechanism. Idan Landau argues that control complements divide into two types: In attitude contexts, control is established by logophoric anchoring, while non-attitude contexts it boils down to predication. The distinction is also syntactically represented: Logophoric complements are constructed as a second tier above predicative complements.

When two categories merge and a new syntactic object is formed, what determines which of the two merged categories transmits its properties one level up—or, in current terminology, which of the two initial categories labels the new object? In (Re)labeling, Carlo Cecchetto and Caterina Donati take this question as the starting point of an investigation that sheds light on longstanding puzzles in the theory of syntax in the generative tradition. They put forward a simple idea: that words are special because they can provide a label for free when they merge with some other category.

Noam Chomsky’s Aspects of the Theory of Syntax, published in 1965, was a landmark work in generative grammar that introduced certain technical innovations still drawn upon in contemporary work. The fiftieth anniversary edition of this influential book includes a new preface by the author that identifies proposals that seem to be of lasting significance, reviews changes and improvements in the formulation and implementation of basic ideas, and addresses some of the controversies that arose over the general framework.

In his foundational book, The Minimalist Program, published in 1995, Noam Chomsky offered a significant contribution to the generative tradition in linguistics. This twentieth-anniversary edition reissues this classic work with a new preface by the author.

Lessons from Acehnese

In Voice and v, Julie Anne Legate investigates the syntactic structure of voice, using Acehnese as the empirical starting point. A central claim is that voice is encoded in a functional projection, VoiceP, which is distinct from, and higher than, vP. Legate further claims that VoiceP may be associated with phi-features that semantically restrict the external argument position but do not saturate it.

In this book, Omer Preminger investigates how the obligatory nature of predicate-argument agreement is enforced by the grammar. Preminger argues that an empirically adequate theory of predicate-argument agreement requires recourse to an operation, whose obligatoriness is a grammatical primitive not reducible to representational properties, but whose successful culmination is not enforced by the grammar.

An Essay on the Syntax of Negation

In this book, Chris Collins and Paul Postal consider examples such the one below on the interpretation where Nancy thinks that this course is not interesting:
Nancy doesn’t think this course is interesting.

In this book, David Pesetsky argues that the peculiarities of Russian nominal phrases provide significant clues concerning the syntactic side of morphological case. Pesetsky argues against the traditional view that case categories such as nominative or genitive have a special status in the grammar of human languages.

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