This unusual book takes the form of a dialogue between a linguist and another scientist. The dialogue takes place over six days, with each day devoted to a particular topic—and the ensuing digressions. The role of the linguist is to present the fundamentals of the minimalist program of contemporary generative grammar. Although the linguist serves essentially as a voice for Noam Chomsky's ideas, he is not intended to be a portrait of Chomsky himself. The other scientist functions as a kind of devil's advocate, making the arguments that linguists tend to face from those in the "harder" sciences.
The author does far more than simply present the minimalist program. He conducts a running argument over the status of theoretical linguistics as a natural science. He raises the general issues of how we conceive words, phrases, and transformations, and what these processes tell us about the human mind. He also attempts to reconcile generative grammar with the punctuated equilibrium version of evolutionary theory.
In his foreword, Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini says, "The vast number of readers who have been enthralled by Goedel, Escher, Bach may well like also this syntactic companion, a sort of 'Chomsky, Fibonacci, Bach.'".
A Course in GB Syntax is a new kind of linguistics textbook. It presents the fundamental concepts of the Government-Binding approach to syntax in a lecture-dialogue format that conveys the sense of a changing field, with live issues under debate.Students and professionals seeking a lucid introduction to the complexities of GB syntax will have the experience of participating in an actual course taught by a major practitioner. The presentation of fundamentals is followed by further examples, easily understandable discussion of technical questions, and alternative analyses within the same basic framework.The book fits welI between a more general introduction like van Riemsdijk and Williams' Introduction to the Theory of Grammar and the major GB literature. While it has been designed for use by graduate students in a second semester syntax course, it can serve as a reader's companion to important but sometimes forbidding texts like Noam Chomsky's Lectures on Government and Binding and Some Concepts and Consequences of the Theory of Government and Binding.The informal tone makes the subject more approachable; examples are worked out more slowly and in greater detail than is possible in the primary sources; and the definitions and notational devices are carefully explained. Finally, many of the questions that the student might want to raise are raised (in fact, by students) and answers and alternatives are explored.The lectures give an overview of the modular GB model and cover in detail Case theory; Binding Theory; the determination of "empty categories," parasitic gaps, and the Empty Category Principle; extensions and alternatives, such as Aoun's "Generalized Binding Theory" and Higginbotham's "linking" analysis, and various open questions, such as the nature of the Case filter, tough movement, weak crossover, illicit NP-movement, and topicalization.Howard Lasnik is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Connecticut. Juan Uriagereka, one of his graduate students, transcribed and did the initial editing of the tapes of the original lectures. Current Studies in Linguistics.
This collection of essays presents an up-to-date overview of research in the minimalist program of linguistic theory. The book includes a new essay by Noam Chomsky as well as original contributions from other renowned linguists.Contributors : Andrew Barss, Zeljko Boskovic, Noam Chomsky, Hamida Demirdache, Hiroto Hoshi, Kyle Johnson, Roger Martin, Keiko Murasugi, Javier Ormazabal, Mamoru Saito, Daiko Takahashi, Juan Uriagereka, Myriam Uribe-Extebarria, Ewa Willim.