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Basic Operations and UG. Plato’s Problem, Darwin’s Problem and the Rise of Theoretical Syntax. Four Broad Topics. The Big Picture: General Issues and a detailed Illustration/ The Sources of C-command. Where does Recursion Come From? The fine structure of MERGE Construal as Movement

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Basic operations and ug l.jpg

Basic Operations and UG

Plato’s Problem, Darwin’s Problem and the Rise of Theoretical Syntax

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Four Broad Topics

  • The Big Picture: General Issues and a detailed Illustration/ The Sources of C-command.

  • Where does Recursion Come From? The fine structure of MERGE

  • Construal as Movement

  • The Emerging Picture of UG

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Theoretical Syntax; the Minimalist Project

Reduction and Computational Efficacy

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What does Linguistics Study?

What is the subject matter of Linguistics?

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The Big QuestionThe Structure of the Mind

  • What is special about humans?

  • Language as (the?) window on the mind

  • What properties of language make it (language/mind) special?

  • What are the distinctive contributions of the Faculty of Language (FL) to human minds?

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A 3 step answer

Descriptive Linguistics/What

Plato’s Problem/How

Darwin’s Problem/Why

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Descriptive Linguistics

  • What: what are the computational properties of NL systems

  • Generative Grammar as a formal (“careful”) project describing in detail what the complex capacities a speaker of a given language has

  • Grammars as systems of interacting rules

  • Rules are tacit/presupposed by speakers

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  • NLs are generated by grammars consisting of recursive rules of two broad types: Phrase Structure Rules with a specific endocentric format, transformational rules that allow for non-local dependencies (movement, construal). This reflects three basic facts about NLs:

    • They are “practically” infinite (no upper-bound)

    • Expressions in a sentence allow both for local dependencies between “adjacent” items and non-local dependencies between non-adjacent items. Indeed, there are two kinds of ‘non’ adjacency; those mediated by “move” and those mediated by endocentricity.

    • Grammars manipulate constituents.

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Plato’s Problem

  • How: How is it possible for humans to acquire these NL computational/rule systems?

  • Plato’s Problem and the Poverty of the Stimulus

  • PLDL --> UG --> GL

  • Simplification of rule systems/abstraction from detail/Move 

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  • Grammars are internally modular and have a principles and parameters format.

    • Modules concern themselves with different “subsystems” of grammar; apply to different primitives/properties and employ different operations, relations and conditions.

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GB, the most developed account identifies at least the following modules, with their own primitives, rules and principles

  • X’

  • Case

  • Theta

  • Movement

    • Subjacency

    • ECP

  • Construal

    • Control

    • Binding

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Miniminimalism’s Question

  • Why are the principles of UG the way they are and not some other way

  • Takes for granted that answers to Descriptive and Plato questions are (roughly) right

  • GB as foil for inquiry

  • Why-questions in general: simplicity, redundancy, naturalness

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Darwin’s Problem

  • Why Questions in Linguistics

  • The Evolutionary Parable

  • Short Evolutionary Time Span

  • Gen Cog--> ???? --> UG

  • UG comprises the GB “Laws of Grammar”

  • Gen Cog--> ???? --> GB Laws of Grammar

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???? ?

  • What do we know about ‘???’ ?

    • That it is relatively “thin” given the short time that it had to develop. In other words, the contribution of language specific operations and principles must be quite modest given the short time line we are dealing with.

  • A consequence of this is that there should be almost NO grammar internal structure. This kind of internal “complexity” is not what we expect to see given the short developmental time line. In other words, FL is not modular.

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Darwin’s Problem:3 Strategies

  • Reduction

  • Computational Efficiency

  • Interface Compatibility

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Darwin’s Problem: 1

  • Reduction as an explanatory strategy and answer to Darwin’s Problem

  • Fewer levels, modules, rules, conditions

  • There are no FL “internal” modules at all

  • All dependencies are simply checking of different features under Merge and the conditions that regulate their application; local relations under External Merge, non-local under Internal Merge.

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Darwin’s Problem: 2

  • Computational Efficiency (CE): why are there locality conditions? Computational systems that are efficient and well designed ‘like’ bounds on computation for without them things get out of hand very quickly

  • CE considerations not specific to UG

  • Third factor features reduce Darwin’s Problem

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Darwin’s Problem: 3

  • Interface functionality: why do NLs define notions like subject, object and indirect object? Because the interpretive format of the CI interface is Davidsonian and in order to translate a LF into this format requires that we ‘type lift’ arguments into event predicates via these kinds of relational notions.

  • Advances Darwin’s Problem as Properties Reflect non-linguistic demands; has properties it must have to be useable at all.

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Explanatory Strategies

  • Show that UG operations are largely homogeneous

  • That these operations reflect general computational demands

  • And/or they reflect interface requirements

  • Personal Opinion: Last, Interface Functionality is currently weakest

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My Strategy

  • Eliminate FL internal modules to one: How?

  • Long distance dependencies are all instances of Move (reduces Case, Agreement, Binding and Control to Move)

  • Move itself is an instance of Merge (Remerge/Copy + Merge).

  • So all grammatical dependencies are mediated via Merge (so locally discharged) and only differ in the features manipulated

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My Strategy

  • Show that the basic operations and the way they interact have ‘nice’ computational properties.

  • Central to this is Minimality as Shortest Move/dependency (locality), Extension (monotonicity), (perhaps) Greed (determinism) and a strong version of Inclusiveness (to eliminate grammar internal diacritics)

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A New Age of Theory

  • Formal vs Theoretical Linguistics

  • Why theory is now possible and required

  • The New Question (Darwin’s Problem) demands it; What are the possible UGs?

  • The generalizations are there to support it; the laws of grammar as articulated in GB provide a target for explanation

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Prior Reductive and CE Moments

  • Reduce Laws of Grammar to simple core operations

  • Provide computational rational for the operations and how they apply

  • This has been tried successfully before

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An earlier example: The ‘On Wh Movement’ model

  • Reduce all the islands to one set of principles; Bounding as applied to Movement

  • Eliminate Redundancy: Movement and not Deletion over a variable (contra Bresnan)

  • Provide computational Motivations for the reduction

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Computational Concerns

  • … the island constraints can be explained in terms of general and quite reasonable computational properties of formal grammar(i.e. subjacency, a property of cyclic rules that states, in effect, that transformational rules have a restricted domain of potential application; SSC, which states that only the most prominent phrase in an embedded structure is accessible to rules relating it to phrases outside; PIC, which stipulates that clauses are islands subject to the language specific escape hatch..). If this conclusion can be sustained, it will be a significant result, since such conditions as CNPC and the independent wh-island constraint seem very curious and difficult to explain on other grounds. [emphasis, NH] (p. 89; On WH Movement).

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The Grammar of CC

  • C-command plays a role in at least three parts of the grammar:

    • Binding theory: for  to bind  must CC 

    • Linearization: for  to precede ,  must asymmetrically CC 

    • Movement/Minimality: A movement operation cannot involve X1 and X3 over an X2 which is identical to X3 in (i):

    • (i) …X1…X2…X3…

  • A key feature of the above restriction is that it only applies when the relevant Xs are in a c-command configuration; in particular, X2 blocks X3 from X1 just in case X2c-commands X3

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    CC and Movement in GB

    • On LGB Theory why is movement to a CC position?

    • Principle A

    • ECP, antecedent government

    • Problems

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    CC and Move in MP: Extension

    • MERGE: […X…][ …Y…]--> [ […X…] [ …Y…]]

    • MOVE: [ …Y…] -->[..Y..[ …Y…]]

    • Get CC from Extension

    • So: If binding arises from movement, get CC as a by-product

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    3 Assumptions

    • All grammatical operations are coded via Merge (both flavors).

      • If  and  are grammatically related, then , have merged, i.e. {,}.

    • Phrases are endocentric (i.e. the head’s information is available at every phrasal level)

    • Operations are monotonic (information preserving, i.e. Extension)

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    • John is likely to arrive

    • [TP John [T’ Pres+be [AP likely [TP (John?) to [VP John arrive]]]]]

    • John expects to leave

    • [TP John [T’ T [vP John [v’ v [VP expect [TP/CP? (John) to [VP John leave]]]]]]]

    • John likes himself

    • [ John [ T John v [like [John himself]]]]

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    • C-command is an emergent property if

      • All grammatical operations are coded via Merge (both flavors).

        • If  and  are grammatically related, then , have merged, i.e. {,}.

      • Phrases are endocentric (i.e. the head’s information is available at every phrasal level)

      • Operations are monotonic (information preserving, i.e. Extension)

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    • Raising, Control and Reflexivization are all the same process, though different relations are established and various “features” are checked. In other words, like the cases in ‘On WH Movement,’ the same operations and principles underlie what appear to be disparate “constructions.” Modulo different features, case, agreement, movement, control, and anaphor binding are really the same thing.

    • All mediated by Merge!

    • Concern: Principles B and C of the Binding Theory

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    Bound Pronouns?

    • Get binding of pronouns if they also mediated by movement (Kayne)

    • Or if enter the derivation via Merge in some way (Hornstein 2001/2007 on “pronominalization”)

    • Principle B; anti-locality

    • Principle C; economy

    • Theoretical motivation: reductive

    • Empirical question: viability of Binding as Movement (we return to this)

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    Interim Conclusion

    • Can derive CC requirement on Binding and Control (and case and agreement) if assume that these dependencies mediated by movement.

    • Movement is required given assumption that all grammatical dependencies coded via Merge.

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    A Complication:SW Move

    • This “result” holds for canonical movement within a single rooted tree

    • What of Sidewards Movement (as in Nunes 2004)?

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    4 cases

    • Two where “surface” CC is respected:

    • Parasitic gaps

    • [CP WH…vP/vP [vP ... t ...] [adjunct..t..]]]

    • Adjunct Control

    • [TP John T0 [vP [vP John [VP saw Mary ] [adjunct without (John) leaving the kitchen]]]

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    4 cases

    • Two where “surface” CC is not respected

    • Subject Gerunds

      [TP [TP PRO/reflexive1...] [VP V DP1 ]]

      PRO/himself having to take a long shower made everyone late for class

    • Sub-command (Chinese)[John’s1 book] impressed himself1 *[John’s1 father] impressed himself1

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    • It defined in terms of asymmetric CC in Kayne. To eliminate this must assume that Merge itself is asymmetric.

    • This often assumed if labels are predictable: If A merges with B then B projects the label. This way of putting things treats Merge as asymmetric

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    More on CC: Minimality

    • Movement/Minimality: A movement operation cannot involve X1 and X3 over an X2 which is identical to X3 in (i):

    • (i) …X1…X2…X3… (where X1 cc X2 cc X3)

  • A key feature of the above restriction is that it only applies when the relevant Xs are in a c-command configuration; in particular, X2 blocks X3 from X1 just in case X2c-commands X3

  • Note CC appears to be basic here. Is it?

  • What intuition does this definition try to capture?

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    Distance within phrases

    • Minimality measures distance between two positions in a phrase marker

    • The basic intuition is that “the operation Move  should always try to construct the shortest link.” Chomsky and Lasnik (1993)

    • If so, 2 questions: ‘How to measure distance within a PM?’ ‘How to compare 2 measures of distance?’

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    • The nodes “connecting” A and B measures the distance between A and B

    • Paths: A measure of distance:

    • The union of sets of MaxPs dominating target and mover

    • [CP C0 [TP Who1 T0[vP t1 [VP buy what]]]]

    • Who to C={TP,CP}, what to C= {VP,vP,TP,CP}

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    Comparing Paths

    • How to compare Paths

    • Counting, A has length 2, B has 4…

    • Boolean Measure, A is subset of B

    • CC is required for two paths to be comparable wrt length if relative distance is a Boolean measure

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    Example 1

    • I wonder who books about what impressed

    • *I wonder who what impressed

    • [CP C0 [TP [DP ..Wh2] T0[vP t1 [VP V Wh1]]]]

    • P(Wh1) = {VP,vP,TP,CP}

    • P(Wh2) = {DP, TP,CP..}

    • [CP C0 [TP Who1 T0[vP t1 [VP buy what]]]]

    • Who to C={TP,CP}, what to C= {VP,vP,TP,CP}

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    Example 2

    • Let’s do a Raising case together

    • Contrast Romance and English Raising

    • *Jean semble à Pierre être malade

    • John seems to Peter to be sick

    • White Board Time

    • Recall, ‘à’ is case marker in French, ‘to’ is P in English.

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    Tentative Conclusion

    • Before considering these, what have we done: shown that CC a consequence of Extension and Minimality.

    • Extension is simply monotonicity (a nice computational property) and Minimality is how dependency minimization (a good property in any system with memory) when don’t have counting units.

    • In “nice” computational systems where dependencies via Merge get CC all over

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    • Paths within single rooted phrase markers (PM)

    • Multi rooted PMs and Sidewards Movement between them

    • Which Book did John read (which Book) after Bill reviewed (which book) (Nunes)

    • John kissed Mary before (John) leaving the party (Hornstein 2001)

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    SW Movement and Paths:No Problem

    • Name the paths:

      • A. [vP v [VP V [TP DP1....]]] :P(DP1)?

      • B. [vP v [VP V DP2 [TP DP1 …]]]] : P(DP1), P(DP2)?

      • C. [vP v [VP V DP2]] [TP DP1…] : P(DP1), P(DP2) ?

      • D. [vP v [VP V DP2]] [TP DP1…[XP DP3..]] : P(DP1), P(DP3) ?

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    Payoff 1A over A (A/A)

    • Can reduce A/A to an instance of minimality.

    • [TargetP …TargetB-feature .. [BP …B10 ..BP2…….]……]

      • P(BP1) = {TargetP}

      • P(BP2) = {TargetP,BP1}

      • Allows reduction of trace licensing convention to minimality via A/A

    Example l.jpg

    • [ XP1 ..[A ..t1..]2 ..[..t2..]]

    • [A ..t1..]2 .. XP1.. [..t2..]]

    • ?? [Which person1 did you ask me [[how many pictures of t1]2 [Bill took t2]]]

    • ** [How many pictures of t1]2 did you ask me [which person]1 Bill took t2

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    2 Minimal Domains/Minimality (Chomsky 1995:356-7)

    • (189)  and  are equidistand from  if  and  are in the same minimal domain

    • (190)  is closer to K than  unless  is in the same minimal domain as (a)  [the target, NH] or (b) .

    • We thus have two cases to consider. We ask (case (190a) whether  and  are equidistant from , and (case (190b) whether  and  are equidistant from . If either is true, then  does not bar raising  to .

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    Multiple Specs

    • 1. [TP T ... [BP XP [B’ YP [ B…]]]]

    • 2. [theme1…[VP [V t1] experiencer]]

    • 3.[TP ZP  T ... [BP XP [ B…]]]]

    • Tucking In

    • 4. [TP ZP [T’ T ... [BP XP [ B…]]]]]

    • Two World views; c-command vs m-command

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    Shortest attract vs shortest move

    • [A T(arget)…[B ...DP1…[C ...DP2…]]]

    • For SA the relevant paths are the ones for DP1 and DP2 with respect to T; P(DP1)= {,A,B} and P(DP2)= {A,B,C}

    • For SM the relevant paths are the path from DP1 to T and the one from DP2 to DP1. These are {A,B,C} and {B,C} respectively

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    Merge Over Move

    • External Merge: Y merge X. What’s the path?

    • Internal Merge: Y merge X [XP .. X ..Y..]]. What’s the path?

    • The path in first case is shorter than the second always as by definition it is Φ

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    • Why is it that the grammar uses c-command so extensively?

    • The answer we have provided is that it is what one expects from grammars organized in certain ways:

    • Ones that have basic operations like Merge and nice computational properties like Extension etc.

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    • If grammatical dependencies are coded via Merge, if Move is Copy plus Merge (or Merge/Re-merge), if computations are monotonic increasing (i.e. obey Extension), if grammars optimize by preferring shorter relations to longer ones, if grammars use Boolean resources, if grammatical operations are last resort (deterministic), if grammars segregate theta, case and A’ domains, then c-command will figure prominently in grammatical processes.

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    Grammars with c-command arise from simple grammars with “nice” computational properties

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    “Nice” Properties

    • Merge and Copy (or Merge and ReMerge) are as basic as computational operations can be

    • Monotonicity (Extension), non-counting, last-resort, and a preference for short dependencies are all reasonable general computational principles

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    CC and optimal design?

    • Taken together, this suggests that C-command is what pops out in a system that uses simple natural primitive operations, and deploys them in a computationally optimal way.

    • In other words, perhaps CC is a mark of optimal grammatical design.

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    Next Questions

    • Why are paths defined to track MaxPs?

    • Where does recursion come from?

    • Why do grammars have Extension Condition?

    • What is the basic inventory of grammatical operations?