David Pesetsky and Esther Torrego

in The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Minimalism

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199549368
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics


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  • Linguistics
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology



The minimalist program includes the important conjecture that all (or most) properties of syntactic computation in natural language should be understood as arising from either (1) the interactions of independent mental systems; or (2) ‘general properties of organic systems’. The study of case morphology and the distribution of nominal expressions in the languages of the world is one of the areas in which generative syntax has made the most-profound advances over previous approaches. A large (and increasing) number of studies have identified patterns and principles of great generality – achievements that also shed light on other topics and puzzles. At the same time, it is fair to say that the phenomenon of case represents one of the more outstanding challenges for the minimalist conjecture. Though case is indeed an area in which complex phenomena can be predicted on the basis of more general principles, these principles themselves look quite specific to syntax and morphology, with little apparent connection to external cognitive systems. The discussion in this article reflects the provisional character of the investigation.

Keywords: minimalist program; syntactic computation; natural language; syntax; morphology

Article.  9084 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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