Syntactic Theory
Fall 2016

-Readings for Aug. 30Syntactic Structures Revisited to page 35; Syntactic Structures to page 33 [Please bring these 2 books to class for the first few meetings]
  [[Optional reading on the need in human languages for some 'flat' structures: pp.46-52 of Lasnik and Uriagereka "Structure".]]
-Readings for Sept. 6: Syntactic Structures Revisited to page 49; Syntactic Structures to page 48. HO on equivalent derivations. Here are a few notes about things we have been discussing.And here are some multiple center embedding examples of the type argued by Chomsky and Miller to be grammatical but unacceptable (for processing reasons).
-> HW 1, due Tuesday Sept. 13. [Homework revision policy.]  [[[pdf submission by e-mail is required. Name your file "Familyname_HWn"; thus, if I were submitting this one, it would be "Lasnik_HW1".]]]
-Readings for Sept. 13
Syntactic Structures Revisited  to page 105
Syntactic Structures  Chapter 7
[Suggested readings: Syntactic Structures Ch. 6; Aspects of the Theory of Syntax, Ch. 1]
Here's the Lasnik-Kupin article, which, among other things, introduces Reduced Phrase Markers. [Not required reading, just in case you're interested.]
-Readings for Sept. 20
Continue Sept. 13 readings and add the following:
Syntactic Structures Revisited  to page 124
->HW1 revision (if you choose) due Tuesday Sept. 20. [Homework revision policy.]  [[[pdf submission by e-mail is required. Name your file "Familyname_HWnrevised"; thus, if I were submitting this one, it would be "Lasnik_HW1revised".]]]
-Readings for Sept. 27
Continue Sept. 22 readings and add the following:
Syntactic Structures Revisited  to page 165
1 more optional reading Lasnik 1981
-> HW 2, due Tuesday Oct. 4.
-Readings for Sept. Oct. 4
Finish the Syntactic Structures and Syntactic Structures Revisited readings previously assigned.
A Course in GB Syntax  pp.1-5
Heres a 'wish list' theory of trnsformations, i.e., the classic theory modified towards greater explanatory adequacy.
Case Theory and A-Movement
Start "Case, Passives, and Government " Handout
-Readings for Oct. 11:  Finish "Case, Passives, and Government " Handout
-Readings for Oct. 18:  Really finish "Case, Passives, and Government " Handout; look again at wish list; discussion of government and distribution of trace and PRO (more on this in Lasnik and Uriagereka 1988 A Course in GB Syntax 48-52, 92-93)
-Readings for Sept. Oct. 25: Finish Oct. 18 readings.
[Here's Vergnaud's letter to Chomsky and me (giving comments on the ms. of "Filters and Control") inventing Case theory, as published in Freidin and Lasnik, Syntax: Critical Concepts. And here's the Lasnik-Freidin 1981 article pointing out the problem raised by null operators for the morphological version of the Case Filter.]
Binding Theory
Overview of BT handout; Lasnik and Uriagereka  Chap. 2 
-> HW 3, due Tuesday Oct. 25.
->HW3 revision (if you choose) due Tuesday Nov. 1. [Homework revision policy] <Take special note of this: "-for each substantial change (i.e., more than correcting typos) a few sentences indicating what you now know or understand that you didn't before.>
-Readings for Nov. 1
Continue Oct. 27 readings; Lasnik 1981 "On Two Recent Treatments of Disjoint Reference"
[Optional (in case you want to take a look at earlier and later history than the Oct. 25 HO gives, and a few authors in addition to Chomsky): HO on the history of Binding Theory from 1955 to 1998] [Optional, if you want to see Chomsky's original presentation of TSC, SSC, RI, etc. "Conditions on Transformations".]
<<Here's the idiom list I mentioned>>
->Squib assignment 'Proposal' due Nov. 17; squib due Dec. 14
-Readings for Nov. 1
Finish Nov. 1 readings. (For more detail, see "Noam Chomsky on Anaphora")
-> HW 4, due Tuesday Nov. 15
WH-Movement (A-bar Movement) and Bounding Theory - Islands and Subjacency:
-Readings for Nov. 15
Subjacency Intro handout
'Brief Overview of Subjacency/Islands 1955- '
-Readings for Nov. 22 - Nov. 29
Lasnik and Uriagereka  Chap. 4
ECP handout
Lasnik and Saito 1992 Move Alpha  pp.70-75 (This summarizes and explicates the Barriers technology)
ECP handout Part 2: More on argument -adjunct island asymmetries
   Rizzi's famous paper on Italian Wh-island violations. See especially the 2nd paragraph of fn. 25, the only part of the paper anyone still remembers.]
  Lasnik (1999) on formal and functional approaches to locality. There is also a brief summary of some of the arguments for successive cyclicity.]
-> HW 5, due Tuesday Dec. 6


Tuesday 2:00-4:30
1108B MMH


Thursday 2:00-3:30
1108B MMH

Howard Lasnik, instructor

1106 Marie Mount Hall
<lasnik [AT] UMD [DOT] edu>
(301) 405-4929

Office hours:

Monday afternoons
Tuesday mornings
Wednesday mornings; afternoons

Course description

Intensive introduction to transformational syntax

Subject matter
-The nature and source of syntactic knowledge
-Formalization of the infinitude of language
-Formalization of phrase structure
-Properties of syntactic transformations
-Syntactic information and lexical information

The following phenomena will be examined in detail:
-English verbal morphology; main verbs vs. auxiliary verbs; development of theories of these phenomena over the years, driven by considerations of explanatory adequacy. "Head movement"
-'Passive' and related phenomena, where an expression occurs in subject position but is 'understood' in another.
("John was arrested") "A-movement"
-Relationship between these phenomena and (abstract) nominal morphology. "Case theory"
-WH-movement and related phenomena ("Who did you see?") "A'-movement"
-Referential dependence, coreference, non-coreference. "Binding Theory"
-Locality constraints on A'-movement: islands; Subjacency; ECP

Course requirements

-5 sets of homework problems
-1 'squib': a short paper outlining an interesting paradigm or phenomenon, and showing how it relates to some issue
or question of theoretical importance. The paper need not provide a solution for the problem it raises.
-Finally, I am aiming for a highly interactive class. To encourage this, I will count class participation toward your grade to some extent.


Required texts

-Chomsky 1957 Syntactic Structures
    Walter de Gruyter 978-3110172799
-Lasnik (with Depiante and Stepanov) 2000 Syntactic Structures Revisited
    MIT Press 978-0-262-62133-5  [See below for compilation of typo corrections]
-Chomsky 1995 The Minimalist Program (chapters 1 (and 2))
    MIT Press 978-0262531283

Recommended texts

-Chomsky 1965 Aspects of the Theory of Syntax (Chapter 1 and other selected portions)
     MIT Press 978-0-262-53007-1
-Chomsky 1981 Lectures on Government and Binding (selected portions)
     Walter de Gruyter 978-3110141313
-Lasnik and Uriagereka 1988 A Course in GB Syntax (selected portions)
     MIT Press 978-0-262-62060-4[[Now out of print; I will make the book available in the department pdf locker.]]
-Lasnik 1999 Minimalist Analysis (selected portions) Blackwell 978-0631210948