blogpost: Post-minimalism?

 Posted by on 02/16/2020  13 Responses »
Feb 162020

I was recently invited to contribute a short piece about Agree to the This Or That Publisher’s Handbook of Minimalism, and it made me wonder to what extent I, or really most other generative syntacticians who got their PhDs after about 2005 or so, can be considered to still be doing “minimalism.” […]  [read more]

Jan 012020

At the polite urging of the particle linguist, I have been thinking about adding a blogroll to my site. (As keen observers will discern, this urging is about a year old now… Better late than never!) As the particle linguist points out, this is standard practice in other blogospheres, and it strikes me as just plain good online citizenship. […]  [read more]

Dec 252019

Ever since Phase Theory was first put forth by Chomsky, it has been taken for granted that phases include at least CP and transitive vP (or whatever you think the highest projection in a transitive verb phrase is). More recently, Keine (2017) has presented a very nice argument that vPs, even transitive ones, cannot be phases, at least not in Hindi. […]  [read more]

Dec 182019

David Pesetsky recently posted Cilene Rodrigues’ response to Everett & Gibson’s "review" of the Recursion Across Domains book for the Linguistic Society of America (LSA)’s flagship journal, Language. I posted a comment there asking why we should support the LSA given that they publish things like the E&G "review."

The discussion thread in question devolved – and this was partially my fault – into a broader discussion of the pros and cons of the LSA as a professional organization, until David, rightly, asked that everyone shift focus back to the actual topic of his post.

In the interest of that, I thought I’d write some of my further thoughts on the LSA over here, rather than in the comments on David’s post. [...]

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Oct 202019

I just got home from Oslo, where I had many really interesting interactions with several linguists. One of them was a conversation with fellow visitor Jonathan Bobaljik. We were talking about the relatively well-known observation that for many alleged “syntax-semantics mapping phenomena,” the expected mappings only go through if the syntax independently allows at least two different configurations. As Jonathan helpfully points out, this is an observation that goes back to Grice, if not Jespersen. But just because an observation is “old,” we shouldn’t overlook the consequences it has for contemporary syn-sem theories. And the consequences are very interesting. […]  [read more]

Oct 032019

Here's a thing that I'm sure happens to everyone from time to time:

  1. You read or hear about phenomenon X or generalization X or theoretical proposal X.
  2. Time passes.
  3. You happen upon some new data or a new idea, for which X proves relevant.
  4. However, it turns out that you have imperfect recall of X. Unbeknownst to you, what you have in your head is actually some rejiggered version of X – let's call it X' – which conveniently-and-suspiciously suits your current theoretical or empirical needs. [...]

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Aug 072019

This is a post about listedness: what is the nature of the idiosyncratic information that is listed in the grammar.

In traditional, lexicalist approaches, the listed atoms were lexical items. A lexical item contained, at minimum, a phonological form, a semantic interpretation, [...]

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Jun 082019

There’s been a fair amount of generative linguistics work over the past 15 years or so that identifies itself as “morphosemantics.” There are several reasons why I don’t think morphosemantics is a coherent notion. In this post, I’d like to detail some of these reasons. You’ve probably heard ~1.5 of them before, though, so if that’s the case feel free to skip ahead as needed.

The =&0=& is conceptual. As 

already discussed on this blog […]  [read more]

Mar 052019

Here is a paper by Canaan Breiss and Bruce Hayes (I will refer to the paper as B&H). To offer a brief summary of B&H’s main empirical point, it shows that the choice of syntactic ‘structure’ (i.e., both the choice of terminals and their arrangement) is probabilistically biased towards avoiding phonotactically problematic sequences (e.g. a sequence of two consecutive sibilants), even when the sequence in question arises across a word boundary. It does so by focusing on a series of well-established phonological constraints (from work on word‑level phonology), and showing that word‑bigrams whose juncture violates these constraints are underattested. This is shown to be the case in a variety of corpora, both written and spoken. Let’s refer to this as

Evidence for Phonologically-Influenced Choice of Syntactic Structure […]  [read more]