Juan Uriagereka

in Spell‐Out and the Minimalist Program

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199593521
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731402 | DOI:

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This introductory chapter outlines the overall argument that the book will deploy. It starts by reflecting on the derivational approach to syntax, and then moves into considering different ways in which computational theories for language have been interpreted. When the matter is seen from a biolinguistic perspective, interesting issues arise about whether syntactic computations are to be taken as biologically real, and ultimately what this might mean. The issue is particularly puzzling once it is assumed, as is customary within syntax and reviewed in Section 3, that derivations work their way ‘bottom-up’, while of course processing is ‘from-before-to-after’. Section 4 suggests that derivational cycles can be rationalized in terms of addressing this orthogonality (between syntax and processing), an idea that recalls traditional concerns of the Analysis-by-Synthesis sort, from a contemporary perspective coloured by minimalism. From the minimalist viewpoint one of the central questions, addressed in Section 5, is what one might mean by ‘structural’ conditions — in current parlance, ‘3rd factor’ considerations. Noam Chomsky has rationalized these in terms of issues arising via ‘computational complexity’, but this way of thinking is not traditional within computational linguistics, which as Section 6 shows has led to much debate. The present work suggests, in Sections 7 and 8, a different take on these matters, which coalesces into the sketch of a model of grammar in Section 9, to be developed at the end of the book. Section 10 outlines some questions that this approach poses — which go beyond linguistics — whereas Section 11 centres the discussion in more familiar terms.

Keywords: syntax; computational theories; biolinguistics; bottom-up systems; language design; grammar; minimalism

Chapter.  21066 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Psycholinguistics

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