Linguistic Minimalism

Cedric Boeckx

in The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Analysis

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780199544004
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

Linguistic Minimalism


Linguistic minimalism refers to a family of approaches exploring a conjecture, first formulated by Noam Chomsky in the early 1990s, concerning the nature of the human language faculty. This chapter first states what the conjecture amounts to, what sort of research programme emerges from it, and how it could be carried out. Second, it emphasizes that the minimalist program for linguistic theory did not arise out of nowhere, but is firmly grounded in the generative enterprise and the rationalist (‘Cartesian’) tradition more generally. Third, the pursuit of specific minimalist analyses follows a certain research style, often called the ‘Galilean style’, whose core properties are discussed here. Fourth, the chapter highlights the fact that minimalism, if rigorously pursued, naturally gives rise to a specific way of approaching interdisciplinary problems such as ‘Darwin's Problem’ (the logical problem of language evolution).

Keywords: human language; linguistic theory; minimalist programme; Galilean style; Darwin's Problem

Article.  9628 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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