Archive for minimalism

Putting my stuff up where someone can see it

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on 2011 March 17 by Asad Sayeed

I just posted a draft article that I wrote with my advisor Amy Weinberg on LingBuzz, which has become a sort of joint working papers archive or respectable self-publishing system for generative grammar folk.  It’s a great idea—linguistics journals are hyper-competitive and who knows how many interesting ideas languish in the queue?

This article is a draft of something that I’ve been working on for several years.  It’s a kind of mini-linguistics-thesis inside my computer science degree.   I had to stop significant activity on it in March 2009 in order to devote the bulk of my time to experiments for my dissertation and other projects on which I was working at the time, so it was left in a (in my opinion) nearly ready state, but just needs a couple of more solid months of work, or a couple of years of hacking at it in my non-existent spare time.  But, you know, dissertation…

So I was faced with a choice of hiding my light under a bushel (or whatever the saying is) while I waited for that solid time-period or letting the world see it before it became a little too out-of-date.  I choose the latter.

What it’s about: The abstract (and article) is written in syntax-ese, but it’s the culmination of some thoughts I’ve had about languages that allow for long-distance extraction of noun phrase constituents from finite clauses…there I go with the syntax-ese again.  But let me put it this way: in some languages you can turn:

I now see that the jelly donuts were tasty.

into something like:

(Not English) The jelly donuts I now see that _____ were tasty.

But English does something weird as well: preposition stranding in questions:

What is he going on about ____?

In our article, Amy and I suggest that these facts are related, but current versions of generative syntax have removed the mechanism to express relationships of this kind.  These were called “escape hatches” in the past, and we propose a way to express them that is consistent with the terms of current theory.

I suspect/hope that it will be controversial.

Update 11:20 – 6 downloads and it’s hardly been 20 minutes.  That was fast.