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Theoretical Linguistics

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

Pronouns and anaphors (including reflexives such as himself and herself) may or must depend on antecedents for their interpretation. These dependencies are subject to conditions that prima facie show substantial crosslinguistic variation. In this monograph, Eric Reuland presents a theory of how these anaphoric dependencies are represented in natural language in a way that does justice to the the variation one finds across languages. He explains the conditions on these dependencies in terms of elementary properties of the computational system of natural language.

Chomsky showed that no description of natural language syntax would be adequate without some notion of movement operations in a syntactic derivation. It now seems likely that such movement transformations are formally simple operations, in which a single phrase is displaced from its original position within a phrase marker, but after more than fifty years of generative theorizing, the mechanics of syntactic movement are still murky and controversial.

A Study of (Mostly) English Object Structure

In Edge-Based Clausal Syntax, Paul Postal rejects the notion that an English phrase of the form [V + DP] invariably involves a grammatical relation properly characterized as a direct object. He argues instead that at least three distinct relations occur in such a structure. The different syntactic properties of these three kinds of objects are shown by how they behave in passives, middles, -able forms, tough movement, wh-movement, Heavy NP Shift, Ride Node Raising, re-prefixation, and many other tests.

In Arguments as Relations, John Bowers proposes a radically new approach to argument structure that has the potential to unify data from a wide range of different language types in terms of a simple and universal syntactic structure.

A Comparative Study

In The Syntax of Adjectives, Guglielmo Cinque offers cross-linguistic evidence that adjectives have two sources. Arguing against the standard view, and reconsidering his own earlier analysis, Cinque proposes that adjectives enter the nominal phase either as “adverbial” modifiers to the noun or as predicates of reduced relative clauses. Some of his evidence comes from a systematic comparison between Romance and Germanic languages.

In Localism versus Globalism in Morphology and Phonology, David Embick offers the first detailed examination of morphology and phonology from a phase-cyclic point of view (that is, one that takes into account recent developments in Distributed Morphology and the Minimalist program) and the only recent detailed treatment of allomorphy, a phenomenon that is central to understanding how the grammar of human language works.

Clitics, Incorporation, and Defective Goals

In Agreement and Head Movement, Ian Roberts explores the consequences of Chomsky's conjecture that head-movement is not part of the narrow syntax, the computational system that relates the lexicon to the interfaces. Unlike other treatments of the subject that discard the concept entirely, Roberts's monograph retains the core intuition behind head-movement and examines to what extent it can be reformulated and rethought.

Vowel harmony results from a set of restrictions that determine the possible and impossible sequences of vowels within a word. The study of syntax begins with the observation that the words of a sentence cannot go in just any order, and the study of phonology begins with the same observation for the consonants and vowels of a word.

  • Page 3 of 12