Topics in Syntax - LL847

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 2)
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7 15 (7.5) DR L Bailey


LL833; LL838





This course will explore a specific model of formal syntactic theory: Minimalism. By investigating some of the core issues developed within the Minimalist Program, such as the role of phrase structure, the central role of movement processes and the mechanisms which are responsible for them, students will have the opportunity to examine how the Minimalist framework can account for the differences and similarities found in languages, in which ways it is controversial and the assumptions it makes regarding the interaction of syntax with other linguistic components (morphology/semantics/pragmatics). Focusing on a specific model will give students the opportunity to consider in depth not only its methods and its aims, but also the proper nature of syntactic argumentation. The investigation will entail both theoretical and descriptive perspectives, thus emphasizing the importance of description in supporting and testing theory. As such, students will be encouraged to evaluate theoretical claims in the light of observations drawn from a wide range of languages.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Total contact hours: 20

Method of assessment

Exercise-based task 1 - 25%;
Exercise-based task 2 - 25%;
Critical review (1500 words) - 50%

Indicative reading

Adger, D. (2003). Core Syntax: A Minimalist Approach. Oxford: Oxford University Press;
Boeckx, C. (2006). Linguistic Minimalism: Origins, Concepts, Methods, and Aims. Oxford: Oxford University Press;
Hornstein, N., Nunes, J. & Grohmann, K. K. (2005). Understanding Minimalism: An Introduction to Minimalist Syntax. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press;
Lasnik, H., Uriagereka, J. & Boeckx, C. (2005). A Course in Minimalist Syntax: Foundations and Prospects Oxford: Blackwell;
Van Gelderen, E. (2013). Clause Structure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

Students will be able to demonstrate a systematic understanding of the central areas of syntactic thought, as well as the basics of empirical enquiry;
Students will be able to demonstrate comprehensive skills in using syntactic tree-drawing techniques, the purpose of which is to provide a comprehensive representation of syntactic constituency and operations;
Students will be able to demonstrate a critical awareness and understanding of the theory and methods used to develop lines of argument and conduct theoretically informed cross-linguistic analyses of data;
Students will be able to critically evaluate the extent to which the linguistic theory they have been introduced to can both describe and explain the syntactic properties of the data with which they have been presented using data sheets provided in class

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