The structures of Chomsky: colorless green ideas work well (course)

LCT Van Gelderen

FMT Two-hour class each week in term 1

VAL 4 points

AIM The aim of this course is to provide students with an understanding of the issues in current syntactic work. The course is meant as a complement to `The Chomskian Challenge' but can be taken completely independently of that course. The topics that will be discussed are different from those in `The Chomskian Challenge'. One aim of `The structures of Chomsky' will be to apply linguistic argumentation; another will be to understand how analyses can change as the framework changes.

PCD During each class, a separate topic will be discussed, for instance, Coordination, Relative Clauses, the structure of the NP, Anaphors, Auxiliaries and Passives. The relevant data, a review of the literature and an analysis will be discussed for each of these topics.


ASM Each student is to write a paper (7-8 pages) based on the topics dealt with in class. A short presentation of this paper will be given in class, but the final mark will only be based on the written paper. In addition, students will have to hand in (6 out of 9) short assignments that should prepare the student for what will be discussed in class.



A three page outline must be handed in by week 8.


Course schedule

Week I: The Chomskian Revolution

Reading: Newmeyer, F. (1986) The Politics of Linguistics: pp. 63-97.

Background reading: R. Harris (1993) The Linguistic Wars; Newmeyer, F. (1980) Linguistic Theory in America.

Week II: Changes in emphasis (movement; binding; agreement)

Reading: O'Grady et al (1987) Contemporary Linguistic Analysis, pp. 102-11; Chomsky, N (1986) Barriers, pp. 2-5.

Background: Newmeyer (1980).

Week III: Coordination

Reading: Munn, A. (1992) The Linguistic review 9.1: pp. 18-21; van Gelderen (1994, chap 9), but see Handout; "Case Assignment and the Ordering of Constituents" in American Speech (1988).

Week IV: DP or NP

Reading: Fukui (1986: 26-53); Abney, S. (1987) The English Noun Phrase in its Sentential Aspect, pp. 14-29.

Background: Abney (1987), Fukui (1986), and Stowell, T. (1991) "Determiners in NP and DP", in K. Leifel (etc., eds) Views on Phrase Structure.

Week V: Relative Clauses and WH-in-situ

Reading: Radford (1981: 257-282); Haegeman (1991: 449-451).

Background: Pesetsky (1981) The Linguistic Review; Chomsky & Lasnik (1977) Linguistic Inquiry 8; Chomsky (1977) "On WH-Movement" in Formal Syntax; Kimball & Aissen (1971) "I Think, You Think, He Think", Linguistic Inquiry 2; Haegeman pp. 337-391; van Riemsdijk & Williams (1986, chap 6); Tsai (1994).

Week VI: Focus and Topics (only, just)

Rochemont & Culicover (1990) English Focus Constructions and the Theory of Grammar.

Background: Rochemont, M. (1986) Focus in Generative Grammar; Cinque (1993) in Linguistic Inquiry 24.1; Authier (1992?) Linguistic Inquiry; Lasnik & Saito (1992); Quirck et. al. (1972), chap 14.

Week VII: Auxiliaries

Reading: Handout

Background: Mitchell (1993); Rivero (1990) Linguistic Inquiry 21.

Week VIII:Passives and Imperatives

Reading: Wasow (1977) Formal Syntax; Henry (forthcoming).

Background: Fabb (pp. 146-168); Roberts chap 2; Abney (pp. 253-64); Coopmans & Beukema

Week IX :Complement selection

Reading: Bennis & Hoekstra (1989: 119-133) Generatieve Grammatica.

Background: Massam (1985) Case Theory and the Projection Principle; Van Gelderen (1993) chap 5.




PAPER TOPICS (for references, see also background reading to the relevant week)

1. Rationalism and Syntax

Readings: Chomsky (1966) Cartesian Linguistics; Chomsky (1965: 47-62) Aspects of the Theory of Syntax.

2. The Relevance of Functional Categories

Fukui (1986: chap 2) A Theory of Category Projection and its Applications; Pollock (1989) "Verb-Movement, UG and the Structure of IP", Linguistic Analysis 20; van Gelderen (1993) The Rise of Functional Categories.

3. Case in coordinates/ Gender in Coordinates

see Week 3 reading.

4. Genitives and DPs: e.g. Jan zijn boek vs John's book.

Abney (1987: e.g. 78-85)

5. The difference between restrictive and non-restrictive relatives

6. Like as a focus marker.

Underhill (1988) "Like is, like, Focus", in American Speech; Rochemont & Culicover (1990).

7. Are Auxiliaries Vs or Perf/ASP/Voice?

8. The Characteristics of Adjectival Passives

9. ACI in Dutch: *Ik geloof hem aardig te zijn vs I believe him to be nice.

Massam (1986)





Week II: Changes:

Reading: Newmeyer (1986, from Week 1), Chomsky (1886: 2-5), and O'Grady.

HW: Mention some differences between what you have done in Syntax II and O'Grady on the one hand and Chomsky 1986 on the other. (Pay attention to X' and movement)


Week III: Coordination:

Reading: Read Munn (only pages indicated); American Speech article (focus on the data, rather than the analysis); van Gelderen (chap 9: again focus on the data and see the handout based on it).

HW: Try to find instances of `break down' of agreement in coordination in Dutch or any other language you know.


Week IV: DP/NP

Reading: Read Fukui (1986: 26-53, SKIM the Japanese data): Abney (1987, especially p. 25)

HW: DO you prefer NPs or DPs? Explain why.


Week V: Relative Clauses

Reading: Radford and Haegeman.

HW: Compare English relative clauses to Dutch ones (or if your native language is not Dutch to another language you know). What are the differences and/or similarities? What about wh-in-situ?


Week VI: Focus

reading: Rochemont & Culicover.

HW: Read a page (doesn't matter what). Describe how the author focusses.


Week VII: Auxiliaries

Reading: Handout

HW: Draw a tree for two sentences with as many auxiliaries in them as you can come up with. Are any of these problematic?


Week VIII: Passives/ Imperatives

Reading: Wasow (focus on the diagnostics for verbal vs adjectival passive; NOT on his analysis) and Henry (focus on the constructions).

HW: Read a page of English and notice the passives. Do the same for Dutch (or another language). Which are adjectival; which are verbal?


Week IX: Complement Selection

Reading: Bennis en Hoekstra (SORRY, this is in Dutch)

Homework: Make a list of the sentential complements in English.