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This course follows on from second-year syntax, covering selected advanced topics and current research in syntactic theory.
Syntactic theories systematically represent and explain the grammatical structure of human languages. Why are some combinations of words meaningful while others are never produced by speakers? How do children learn productive combinations without observing ungrammatical alternatives? What syntactic structures are possible in human languages? The goal of a syntactic theory is to maintain descriptive adequacy (i.e., to explain as much of the grammatical structure of as many languages as possible) while limiting the complexity of its representations. This course explores representations of syntactic structure ranging from simple phrase structure grammars to more complex transformational grammars and construction grammars. The descriptive adequacy of each approach involves four primary sources of evidence: introspection, corpus data, psycholinguistic measurements, and language acquisition. Specific syntactic phenomena include arguments vs. adjuncts, active/passive alternations, local reorderings, verb position, and phrase fronting. The goal is to use these phenomena to understand the empirical foundations of syntactic theories.Relation to other courses:This is one of a range of 300-level courses available for students majoring in Linguistics either for the BA or the BSc, alongside LING307, LING310, and LING320. It can also be taken by students majoring in English Language or other disciplines.
By the end of the course, students will be able to:Explain the linguistic assumptions behind different syntactic theoriesDemonstrate how different theories describe the same syntactic structureCompare and contrast the descriptions produced by different syntactic theoriesCritique the assumptions of syntactic theories against empirical evidenceDevelop an argument to support the analysis of one theory over another
This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:
Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award
Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.
LING201 or LING206 or LING211 or LING217
Students must attend one activity from each section.
Grammatical theory: From transformational grammar to constraint-based approaches;
2015 (Available for free at http://langsci-press.org/catalog/book/195).
Library portalThe course outline is available on LEARN (only for students enrolled in this course).
Domestic fee $1,523.00
International fee $6,375.00
* Fees include New Zealand GST and do not include any programme level discount or additional course related expenses.
For further information see
Language, Social and Political Sciences.