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Paperback | $52.00 Text | £35.95 | ISBN: 9780262513036 | 456 pp. | 7 x 9 in | 294 b&w illus.| December 2009

Essential Info

  • Index
  • Preface
  • Sample Chapter
  • Syntactica Software

Of Related Interest

Grammar as Science


This introductory text takes a novel approach to the study of syntax. Grammar as Science offers an introduction to syntax as an exercise in scientific theory construction. Syntax provides an excellent instrument for introducing students from a wide variety of backgrounds to the principles of scientific theorizing and scientific thought; it engages general intellectual themes present in all scientific theorizing as well as those arising specifically within the modern cognitive sciences. The book is intended for students majoring in linguistics as well as non-linguistics majors who are taking the course to fulfill undergraduate requirements. Grammar as Science covers such core topics in syntax as phrase structure, constituency, the lexicon, inaudible elements, movement rules, and transformational constraints, while emphasizing scientific reasoning skills. The individual units are organized thematically into sections that highlight important components of this enterprise, including choosing between theories, constructing explicit arguments for hypotheses, and the conflicting demands that push us toward expanding our technical toolkit on the one hand and constraining it on the other. Grammar as Science is constructed as a “laboratory science” course in which students actively experiment with linguistic data. Syntactica, a software application tool that allows students to create and explore simple grammars in a graphical, interactive way, is available online in conjunction with the book. Students are encouraged to “try the rules out,” and build grammars rule-by-rule, checking the consequences at each stage.

Downloadable instructor resources available for this title: instructor's manual and file of figures in the book

About the Author

Richard K. Larson is Professor of Linguistics at Stony Brook University.


“Grammar as Science is an excellent textbook for an introductory syntax course, serving both intended linguistics majors and the general education population equally well. There isn’t anything quite like it in the market. If I ever use a textbook, I would use this one.”--Jorge Hankamer, Department of Linguistics, University of California, Santa Cruz"—

"What makes modern generative linguistics a science, and an interesting one at that, is a subtle interaction among several factors: the questions that it asks, the abstractions that it makes to answer these questions, the technical apparatus it uses to make these questions precise, the evidence it uses to adjudicate between different answers, and the aesthetic that animates it when putting all these ingredients together. Richard Larson is the perfect guide into these complex matters and his book an ideal road map. Though written for the neophyte, even the cognoscenti will benefit from his careful, clear, verbal, and visual exposition of what makes linguistics one of the great intellectual success stories of recent times."
Norbert Hornstein, Department of Linguistics, University of Maryland

"Larson's book is an engaging and delightfully lucid introduction to the scientific nature of linguistic argumentation. While thoroughly covering the basics of syntax, it also shows students explicitly how to 'think like a linguist.' Students who use this book will come away with an extraordinarily strong grasp of the real underpinnings of linguistics."
Peggy Speas, Department of Linguistics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst