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2005 LSA Institute Linguistic Society of America









LSA.234 | Tree Adjoining Grammar in Grammatical Theory

Robert Frank
TR 10:10-11:50
location: 56-154
course web site:

Recent work in theoretical syntax has returned to the idea that the nature of grammar is in part a product of its computational and formal character. This course focuses on one instantiation of this notion, examining the explanatory power of a formally constrained model of grammatical derivation that uses the operations of Tree Adjoining Grammar (TAG) to perform structure building. TAG is a mildly context-sensitive grammar formalism that imposes mathematically well-understood restrictions on grammatical computation. The course will begin with a review of the basics of the TAG formalism and its role in a model of grammar. We will then explore the interplay between the formal aspects of a TAG-based model of grammar and its ability to derive substantive properties of human grammar including locality constraints on long-distance movement and agreement, the typology of syntactic dependencies, and restrictions on parametric variation. Particular attention will be paid to the relationship between the TAG-based model and related proposals within the minimalist framework. Time permitting, we will also consider the consequences of a TAG-based model for models of sentence production and comprehension, and acquisition of syntax.

Prerequisites: Necessary background is at least one course in generative syntax. Experience with formal languages and grammars will also be helpful, but such background is not required: formal and computational concepts will be introduced as needed.

Required Textbook
Title: Phrase Structure Composition & Syntactic Dependencies
Author: Robert Frank
Publisher: MIT PRESS/softcover
ISBN: 0262562081