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Generative Grammar, Minimalism, and Language Change Elly van Gelderen ASU CS Seminar 16 February 2015.

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Presentation on theme: "Generative Grammar, Minimalism, and Language Change Elly van Gelderen ASU CS Seminar 16 February 2015."— Presentation transcript:

1 Generative Grammar, Minimalism, and Language Change Elly van Gelderen ASU CS Seminar 16 February 2015

2 Outline Brief history of Generative Grammar structure/hierarchy over linear order non-imitative Introduction to the Minimalist Program (MP) attribute as little as possible to UG How language change informs the MP: unidirectional change tells one how the language learner builds her/his grammar

3 Generative Grammar of the 1950s Noam Chomsky and the generative model he develops offer an alternative, starting in the late 1950s, to descriptive linguistics and behaviorism and bring about a revolution in the fields of linguistics, psychology, and cognitive science. Chomsky continues to stress descriptive adequacy and explanatory adequacy to emphasize how the language faculty is represented in and acquired by humans. BEA: why is the FoL the way it is?

4 Poverty of the Stimulus The focus is on the mind of the language learner/user (the competence) and ceases to be on the structures present in the language produced (the performance). The input to language learning is seen as poor, a phenomenon known as the ‘poverty of the stimulus'. The basis for this phenomenon is that speakers know so much more than what they have evidence for from the input.

5 Chomsky (1975: 36). The innate language faculty, when "stimulated by appropriate and continuing experience, … creates a grammar that creates sentences with formal and semantic properties”.

6 Model of language acquisition/change (based on Andersen 1973) Generation nGeneration n+1UG+ experienceexperience n = = I-language n I-language n+1 E-language nE-language n+1 + innovations

7 Internal Grammar

8 Structure over linear order Reflexives (1) He voted for himself (2) *They wanted him to vote for themselves. Who is `himself’ in: (3) The uncle of Obama voted for himself. Subject-Aux Inversion (4) Elephants that can swim are happy.  (5) Are elephants that can swim happy?  (6) * Can elephants that swim are happy?

9 Locality of movement (1)Who did she think she was dealing with? (COCA 2007) (2) *Who did she ask when John met? (3)I heard (the report) that she met him. > (4)Who did I hear that she met? > (5) *Who did I hear the report that she met?

10 Reanalysis is crucial (1) Paul said, "Starting would be a good thing to do. How would you like to begin?“ (COCA 2010 Fiction) (cartoon is on Handout)

11 Phrase Structure and Transformations (1)a.Sentence NP + VP b.VPVerb + NP (Chomsky 1957 : 27) (2)If S1 is a grammatical sentence of the form NP1-Aux-V-NP2, then the corresponding string of the form NP2-Aux + be + en-Vby + NP1 is also a grammatical sentence. (Chomsky 1957: 43)

12 X’, Principles and Parameters improve this system: (1)CP C’ CTP T’ TVP V’ V... (2) Headedness, pro-drop, etc

13 Chomsky (2014: Interview 4 March) Between early and late GG: “There are two crucial things that remain the same. One is recognition that the core property of language is an unbounded system for generating hierarchic structures with dual interpretations and the other is that it should be constructed within a biological framework”. Emphasis on MERGE (=UG) and features (parametrized)

14 Minimalist Program: reduce UG Three Factors “(1) genetic endowment, which sets limits on the attainable languages, thereby making language acquisition possible; (2) external data, converted to the experience that selects one or another language within a narrow range; (3) principles not specific to FL [the Faculty of Language]. Some of the third factor principles have the flavor of the constraints that enter into all facets of growth and evolution.... Among these are principles of efficient computation”. (Chomsky 2007: 3)

15 Economy Locality = Minimize computational burden (Ross 1967; Chomsky 1973) Use a head = Minimize Structure (Head Preference Principle, van Gelderen 2004) Late Merge = Minimize computational burden (van Gelderen 2004, and others) The latter two can be seen in terms of Feature Economy

16 Borer-Chomsky-Conjecture Parameters now consist of choices of feature specifications as the child acquires a lexicon (Chomsky 2007). Baker, while disagreeing with this view of parameters, calls this the Borer-Chomsky- Conjecture (2008: 156): "All parameters of variation are attributable to differences in the features of particular items (e.g., the functional heads) in the lexicon."

17 Types of minimalist features The semantic features of lexical items (which have to be cognitively based) The interpretable ones relevant at the Conceptual-Intentional interface. Uninterpretable features act as `glue’ so to speak to help out merge. For instance, person and number features (=phi-features) are interpretable on nouns but not on verbs.

18 Formal features are interpretable and uninterpretable ( Chomsky 1995: 277): airplanebuild Interpr.[nominal][verbal] [3 person][assign [non-human] accusative] Uninterpr [Case][phi]

19 Merge and AGREE (1)TP T’ TVP [u-phi] [i-pr]DPV’ many buffaloes VPP [i-3] [i-P]live in this room

20 Current Generative Model Lexicon N(arrow) S(yntax) Interfaces PHONSEM External systems:SensorimotorConceptual-Intentional

21 Semantic and formal overlap: Chomsky (1995: 230; 381) suggests: "formal features have semantic correlates and reflect semantic properties (accusative Case and transitivity, for example)." I interpret this: If a language has nouns with semantic phi-features, the learner will be able to hypothesize uninterpretable features on another F (and will be able to bundle them there). Radford (2000): in acquisition from + > -

22 If semantic features are innate, we need: Feature Economy (a)Utilize semantic features: use them as for functional categories, i.e. as formal features (van Gelderen 2008; 2011). (b)If a specific feature appears more than once, one of these is interpretable and the others are uninterpretable (Muysken 2008).

23 Features and grammaticalization Grammaticalization is a change from semantic to formal features with (optional) loss of phonetic features. For instance, a verb with semantic features, such as Old English will with [volition, expectation, future], can be reanalyzed as ‘ll having only the grammatical feature [future].

24 Cycles tell us which features matter Subject and Object Agreement (Givón) demonstrative > third ps pronoun > agreement > zero noun > first and second person > agreement > zero noun > noun marker > agreement > zero Copula Cycle (Katz) demonstrative > copula > zero third person > copula > zero verb > copula > aspect Noun Cycle (Greenberg) demonstrative > definite article > ‘Case’ > zero noun > number/gender > zero

25 And about processing/economy Negative Cycle (Gardiner/Jespersen see van der Auwera) a negative argument > negative adverb > negative particle > zero b verb > aspect> negative > C (negative polarity cycle: Willis) CP Cycle Adjunct AP/PP >... > C Future and Aspect Auxiliary A/P > M > T (> C) V > ASP

26 Negative Cycle in Old English CE a.no/neearly Old English b.ne(na wiht/not)after 900, esp S c.(ne)notafter 1350 d.not>-not/-n’tafter 1400

27 Neg Cycle in terms of structure NegP Neg’ NegVP ne VDP/AP no thing

28 and in terms of features DP in the VP>Specifier of NegP semantic>[i-neg] >Head Neg>negative affix >[u-neg] and then renewal is needed from another lexical element

29 The Subject Cycle A.demonstrative > third person pronoun > clitic > agreement B. noun/oblique pronoun > first/second pron > clitic > agreement "agreement and pronominalization... Are fundamentally one and the same phenomenon“ (Givón 1978: 151).

30 Just a few examples The Basque verbal prefixes n-, g-, z- are identical to the pronouns ni ‘I’, gu ‘we’, and zu ‘you.’ (Gavel & Henri-Lacombe ), As early as the 19th century, Proto Indo-European verbal endings -mi, si, -ti are considered to arise from pronouns (e.g. Bopp 1816). Hale (1973: 340): in Pama-Nyungan inflectional markers are derived from independent pronouns: “the source of pronominal clitics in Walbiri is in fact independent pronouns”. Mithun (1991): Iroquoian agreement markers derive from Proto- Iroquoian pronouns Haugen (2004: 319): Nahuatl agreement markers derive from pronouns.

31 The various cycles in terms of features The cycle of agreement noun > emphatic > pronoun > agreement >0 [sem][i-phi] [i-phi]/[u-phi][u-phi] The cycles of negation Adjunct/Argument Specifier Head (of NegP)affix semantic>[i-NEG]>[u-NEG]>-- Modal Cycle Verb>AUX [volition, expectation, future] [future]

32 Acquisition, Sign Language,... Unidirectional change in sign language e.g. Aronoff et al; Fisher & Gough; Pfau & Steinbach: V>ASP, N > AGR, and L1 Acquisition e.g. Brown (1973); Josefsson & Håkansson (2000) Interlanguage: debate as to features Lardiere (2007), Hawkins (2005), Tsimpli et al (2004) Pre-human features: place, duration, negation...

33 New developments Eliminate the features that trigger movement and `blame’ movement on the resolution of a labeling conflict: {XP, YP} : one of the 2 must move....

34 Wrap-up Brief overview of current generative linguistics Differences between early – current program: Simpler but still focus on hierarchical structures and movement through MERGE. My interest: Gradual, unidirectional change provides a window on the language faculty Current Developments

35 Some references Chomsky, Noam Aspects of a Theory of Syntax. The Hague: Mouton. Chomsky, Noam The Minimalist Program. Cambridge: MIT Press. Chomsky, Noam Problems of Projection. Lingua 130: Chomsky, Noam 2014a. Problems of Projection: Extensions. ms. Chomsky, Noam 2014b. Transcript of interview by Naoki Fukui and Mihoko Zushi (March 4, 2014) Gelderen, Elly van The Linguistic Cycle. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Gelderen, Elly van Clause Structure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ott, Dennis & Radek Šimík Alternatives to formal features. DGfS Workshop description.


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