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Linguistic Inquiry Monographs

These monographs present new and original research beyond the scope of the article. We hope they will benefit our field by bringing to it perspectives that will stimulate further research and insight. Originally published in limited edition, the Linguistic Inquiry Monographs are now more widely available. This change is due to the great interest engendered by the series and by the needs of a growing readership.

Lessons from Acehnese

In Voice and v, Julie Anne Legate investigates the syntactic structure of voice, using Acehnese as the empirical starting point. A central claim is that voice is encoded in a functional projection, VoiceP, which is distinct from, and higher than, vP. Legate further claims that VoiceP may be associated with phi-features that semantically restrict the external argument position but do not saturate it.

In this book, Omer Preminger investigates how the obligatory nature of predicate-argument agreement is enforced by the grammar. Preminger argues that an empirically adequate theory of predicate-argument agreement requires recourse to an operation, whose obligatoriness is a grammatical primitive not reducible to representational properties, but whose successful culmination is not enforced by the grammar.

A Linguistic Analysis


In A Syntax of Substance, David Adger proposes a new approach to phrase structure that eschews functional heads and labels structures exocentrically. His proposal simultaneously simplifies the syntactic system and restricts the range of possible structures, ruling out the ubiquitous (remnant) roll-up derivations and forcing a separation of arguments from their apparent heads.

Scrambling, Choice Functions, and Differential Marking

In Indefinite Objects, Luis López presents a novel approach to the syntax-semantics interface using indefinite noun phrases as a database. Traditional approaches map structural configurations to semantic interpretations directly; López links configuration to a mode of semantic composition, with the latter yielding the interpretation.

Chomsky showed that no description of natural language syntax would be adequate without some notion of movement operations in a syntactic derivation. It now seems likely that such movement transformations are formally simple operations, in which a single phrase is displaced from its original position within a phrase marker, but after more than fifty years of generative theorizing, the mechanics of syntactic movement are still murky and controversial.

Pronouns and anaphors (including reflexives such as himself and herself) may or must depend on antecedents for their interpretation. These dependencies are subject to conditions that prima facie show substantial crosslinguistic variation. In this monograph, Eric Reuland presents a theory of how these anaphoric dependencies are represented in natural language in a way that does justice to the the variation one finds across languages. He explains the conditions on these dependencies in terms of elementary properties of the computational system of natural language.

Clitics, Incorporation, and Defective Goals

In Agreement and Head Movement, Ian Roberts explores the consequences of Chomsky's conjecture that head-movement is not part of the narrow syntax, the computational system that relates the lexicon to the interfaces. Unlike other treatments of the subject that discard the concept entirely, Roberts's monograph retains the core intuition behind head-movement and examines to what extent it can be reformulated and rethought.

A Comparative Study

In The Syntax of Adjectives, Guglielmo Cinque offers cross-linguistic evidence that adjectives have two sources. Arguing against the standard view, and reconsidering his own earlier analysis, Cinque proposes that adjectives enter the nominal phase either as “adverbial” modifiers to the noun or as predicates of reduced relative clauses. Some of his evidence comes from a systematic comparison between Romance and Germanic languages.

In Arguments as Relations, John Bowers proposes a radically new approach to argument structure that has the potential to unify data from a wide range of different language types in terms of a simple and universal syntactic structure.

In Localism versus Globalism in Morphology and Phonology, David Embick offers the first detailed examination of morphology and phonology from a phase-cyclic point of view (that is, one that takes into account recent developments in Distributed Morphology and the Minimalist program) and the only recent detailed treatment of allomorphy, a phenomenon that is central to understanding how the grammar of human language works.

Vowel harmony results from a set of restrictions that determine the possible and impossible sequences of vowels within a word. The study of syntax begins with the observation that the words of a sentence cannot go in just any order, and the study of phonology begins with the same observation for the consonants and vowels of a word.

In Uttering Trees, Norvin Richards investigates the conditions imposed upon syntax by the need to create syntactic objects that can be interpreted by phonology--that is, objects that can be pronounced. Drawing extensively on linguistic data from a variety of languages, including Japanese, Basque, Tagalog, Spanish, Kinande (Bantu language spoken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo), and Chaha (Semitic language spoken in Ethiopia), Richards makes two new proposals about the relationship between syntax and phonology.

Unifying Agreement-Based and Discourse-Configurational Languages

An unusual property of human language is the existence of movement operations. Modern syntactic theory from its inception has dealt with the puzzle of why movement should occur. In this monograph, Shigeru Miyagawa combines this question with another, that of the occurrence of agreement systems. Using data from a wide range of languages, he argues that movement and agreement work in tandem to achieve a specific goal: to imbue natural language with enormous expressive power.

A convincing account of reduplicative phenomena has been a longstanding problem for rule-based theories of morphophonology. Many scholars believe that derivational phonology is incapable in principle of analyzing reduplication. In Distributed Reduplication, John Frampton demonstrates the adequacy of rule-based theories by providing a general account within that framework and illustrating his proposal with extensive examples of widely varying reduplicatation schemes from many languages.

Experiencers—grammatical participants that undergo a certain psychological change or are in certain psychological states—are grammatically special. As objects (John scared Mary; loud music annoys me), experiencers display two peculiar clusters of nonobject properties across different languages: their syntax is often typical of oblique arguments and their semantic scope is typical of subjects. In The Locative Syntax of Experiencers, Idan Landau investigates this puzzling correlation and argues that experiencers are syntactically coded as (mental) locations.

This concise but wide-ranging monograph examines where the conditions of binding theory apply and in doing so considers the nature of phrase structure (in particular how case and theta roles apply) and the nature of the lexical/functional split. David Lebeaux begins with a revised formulation of binding theory. He reexamines Chomsky’s conjecture that all conditions apply at the interfaces, in particular LF (or Logical Form), and argues instead that all negative conditions, in particular Condition C, apply continuously throughout the derivation.

In this highly original reanalysis of minimalist syntax, Thomas Stroik considers the optimal design properties for human language. Taking as his starting point Chomsky’s minimalist assumption that the syntactic component of a language generates representations for sentences that are interpreted at perceptual and conceptual interfaces, Stroik investigates how these representations can be generated most parsimoniously.

This concise work offers a compositional theory of verbal argument structure in natural languages that focuses on how arguments that are not "core" arguments of the verb (arguments that are not introduced by verbal roots themselves) are introduced into argument structures. Liina Pylkkänen shows that the type of argument structure variation that allows additional noncore arguments is a pervasive property of human language and that most languages have verbs that exhibit this behavior.

This crosslinguistic study of the structure of motion predicates argues for the universal syntactic nature of the composition of manner and motion within the verbal constituent. In serial verb languages, manner and motion are overtly represented as two distinct morphosyntactic units, sequentially ordered. Zubizarreta and Oh argue that the same analysis into two units holds for nonserial verb languages, albeit at a more abstract level. They argue further that this abstract level is part of the syntactic component of the grammar.

Optimal and Costly Computations

In this monograph Tanya Reinhart discusses strategies enabling the interface of different cognitive systems, which she identifies as the systems of concepts, inference, context, and sound. Her point of departure is Noam Chomsky's hypothesis that language is optimally designed—namely, that in many cases, the bare minimum needed for constructing syntactic derivations is sufficient for the full needs of the interface. Deviations from this principle are viewed as imperfections.

The Syntax of Predication, Predicate Inversion, and Copulas

In Relators and Linkers, Marcel den Dikken presents a syntax of predication and the inversion of the predicate around its subject, emphasizing meaningless elements (elements with no semantic load) that play an essential role in the establishment and syntactic manipulation of predication relationships. One such element, the RELATOR, mediates the relationship between a predicate and its subject in the base representation of predication structures. A second, the LINKER, connects the predicate to its subject in Predicate Inversion constructions.

In this groundbreaking monograph, Anna Maria Di Sciullo proposes that asymmetry—the irreversibility of a pair of elements in an ordered set—is a hard-wired property of morphological relations. Her argument that asymmetry is central in derivational morphology, would, if true, make morphological objects regular objects of grammar just as syntactic and phonological objects are. This contrasts with the traditional assumption that morphology is irregular and thus not subject to the basic hard-wired regularities of form and interpretation.

One of the most important discoveries of modern linguistic theory is that abstract structural properties of utterances place subtle restrictions on how we can use a given form or description. For the past thirty years, these restrictions have been explored for possible clues to the exact nature of the structural properties in question. In The Syntax of (In)dependence Ken Safir explores these structural properties and develops a theory of dependent identity interpretations that also leads to new empirical generalizations.

This highly original monograph treats movement operations within the Minimalist Program. Jairo Nunes argues that traces are not grammatical primitives and that their properties follow from deeper features of the system, and, in particular, that the phonetic realization of traces is determined by linearization computations coupled with economy conditions regarding deletion. He proposes a version of the copy theory of movement according to which movement must be construed as a description of the interaction of the independent operations Copy, Merge, Form Chain, and Chain Reduction.

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