Linguistic Diversity and Uniformity
Are languages fundamentally similar or different?
In this module, you'll start with a very high-level overview of what generative syntactic theory hopes to accomplish. Then you'll proceed down to the nuts and bolts of what theory tries to account for and what a syntactic hypothesis looks like. Along the way, you'll learn about two important components of a theory of grammar: syntactic rules and the lexicon. You'll also get your first taste of analysing real phenomena.
I've given multiple reading selections for many of the topics. This is because introductory syntax textbooks sometimes have the unfortunate tendency of introducing their own idiosyncratic nomenclature for particular concepts.1 By reading multiple explanations of the same topic, you will (I hope) begin to see what is essential about each. Focus on what is shared by the different sources. You may also prefer one of the styles of explanation over the others. Isac and Reiss (2008) is the most accessible of the three and Haegeman (1994) is the most technical. Carnie (2012) sits in the middle.
Get started by going through the following readings, which largely recapitulate topics from module 1, but in more formal language.
Then, proceed onto the new stuff:
Some textbooks, for example, refer to constituents such as the white horse as noun phrases (NPs), while others take a more modern approach and call them determiner phrases (DPs). Although the difference is important, at the beginner level, this introduces unnecessary confusion. ↩
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