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Introduction to Generative Grammar

Fall 2016
Instructor: Imola-Ágnes FARKAS
Emails: farkas_imola_agnes@yahoo.com, farkas.imola.agnes@gmail.com
Office hours: Tuesday 11 a.m.-12 p.m., M16

Syllabus
Description: We can only understand the subtleties of syntactic structures if we understand the architectonic principles
and blueprints of natural language, the rules that govern the ways in which words combine to build phrases, and phrases
are combined into larger phrases or sentences. It is also necessary to understand that syntax is multi-layered, that
phrases, after being built, can be moved or deleted in order to satisfy the correlation with the Semantic or Phonetic
modules of the language faculty. Movements and deletions take place under certain restrictions, and speakers, without
being specifically taught these conditions, have an unconscious knowledge of them. All natural languages share the same
fundamental structural properties of one universal language faculty, property of the human brain. But these principles
are broad enough to allow considerable differences among specific languages, and this enables both language variation
and foreign language acquisition.

Objectives:
To present and discuss evidence that supports the idea that language is a human biological endowment
To explain how phrases and sentences are constructed
To explain the notions language faculty and Universal Grammar
To give a generative description of the English syntax
To explain the differences in sentence structure among languages from around the world in terms of universal
principles and parameters

Bibliography:
Cook, Vivian & Mark Newson. 1996. Chomsky’s Universal Grammar. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. Second edition.
Farkas, Imola-Ágnes. 2016. A Practical Generative Grammar with Exercises. Cluj: Casa Cărții de Știință.
Guasti, Maria Teresa. 2002. Language Acquisition. The Growth of Grammar. MIT.
Haegeman, Liliane. 1994. Introduction to Government and Binding Theory, Basil Blackwell.
Hornstein, Norbert, Jairon Nunes & Kleanthes K. Grohmann. 2005. Understanding Minimalism. Cambridge: CUP.
Pinker, Steven. 1995. The Language Instinct. Penguin.
Radford, Andrew. 2004. Minimalist Syntax. Exploring the Structure of English. Cambridge: CUP.
Todea, Adriana. 2015. PRO Control and Its Syntactic Architecture in English and Romanian. Cluj: Casa Cărții de Știință.

Requirements & assessment: One final written exam, testing both theoretical knowledge and practical application of
theoretical knowledge). The printed outlines of the courses will be made available for you prior to our meetings. You are
required to bring the appropriate outline at every course. You find in the outlines the content of the slides I project, which
contain the main topics and also structures and diagrams which may be difficult and time consuming for you to copy
during the lecture. They are made available to you to save time and to make note-taking easier, but not unnecessary!
The outlines as such (without your notes covering the detailed explanations that I give during the course) cannot
constitute a sufficient source of information when preparing for the exam. If you miss a class, it is strongly recommended
that the outline be used as a guide to the bibliography covering the topics discussed.

Schedule
DATE TOPICS
WEEK 1: 7/10 Course 1: Language as an Instinct
WEEK 2: 14/10 Course 2: Unaccusativity and unergativity, multistratal syntax, EPP
WEEK 3: 21/10 Course 3: Argument structure and theta roles, syntactic valence, mappings between syntax and
semantics
WEEK 4: 28/10 Seminar 1: Argument structure and theta roles (exercises)
WEEK 5: 4/11 Course 4: Nativism and child language acquisition, Plato’s problem, I-language versus E-
language
WEEK 6: 11/11 ------
WEEK 7: 18/11 Course 5: The structure of phrases: binary operations, binary trees, structural relations
WEEK 8: 25/11 Seminar 2: X-bar theory (exercises)
WEEK 9: 2/12?? Course 6: The Case Filter, feature checking, Merge and Move
WEEK 10: 9/12 Seminar 3: Syntactic types and VP shells
WEEK 11: 16/12 Course 7: Movement in the left periphery: the Complementizer Phrase
WEEK 12: 23/12?? Seminar 4: Ditransitives, double transitives, subclauses, interrogatives
WEEK 13: 13/01 Seminar 5: Control and raising structures
WEEK 14: 20/01 Seminar 6: Floating quantifiers