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A precise formal understanding of a linguistic theory is vital for distinguishing between contentful and notational aspects of a linguistic proposal, for pinpointing cross-framework agreements and disagreements, and for making principled connections to other empirical domains.
This course will present recent transformational syntax (`minimalism') in terms Stabler's minimalist grammar (MG) formalism. To get a feel for the formalism, we will engage in a hands-on analysis of basic aspects of constructions like raising, auxiliaries, expletives, and passives.
The key to understanding MGs lies in their derivational process. We will see how to understand derivations as structure, and how this provides a simple and unifying perspective on a host of recent theory-internal questions, including the elimination of levels of representation, the reduction of move to merge, inclusiveness and the non-tampering condition, label-free syntax, etc. The derivational perspective on MGs also permits a directly compositional reinterpretation of the standard LF-interpretation scheme, which we will explore in the context of binding out of nominal phrases. Finally, we will investigate the natural derivational interpretation of catena (`chains'), a dependency-theoretic notion which provides a way to understand and treat constructions in transformational grammar.