Sharpening the Empirical Claims of Generative Syntax through Formalization

Language & Computation

There is often confusion or skepticism about just what empirical claims are being made by research in generative syntax. A certain proposal about grammatical derivations and transformations will be intended as a description of mental structures, but it is not always clear how points of debate in the literature should be tied in to these mental/cognitive kinds of research goals. This course aims to show that one way to make this connection more concrete is via more explicitly formalized models of generative syntax. We will begin by reviewing how grammars in general can be understood as cognitive hypotheses, based on examples with simpler and more frequently formalized context-free models. We will then investigate ways in which the Minimalist Grammar formalism can be used to bring the same kind of explicitness, and hence the same kind of cognitive significance, to proposals set in the framework of modern generative grammar.**

First week
11:00 - 12:30 - slot 2