Syntax seeks to characterize grammars of particular languages and how they differ, to describe the universal properties that human grammars have as a matter of biological design, and to explain why the universal properties we discover have the particular character they do.
Birds fly, fish swim, humans speak. We have a capacity to combine expressions into unboundedly large linguistic structures (sentences and phrases) that carry a specific form and a specific meaning. As the number of such structures is in principle infinite, there must be recursive procedures that define these complex objects. Syntax studies these rule systems — grammars — and does so in three ways. It seeks to characterize grammars of particular languages and how they differ (e.g. how questions are formed in English versus Chinese); to describe the universal properties that human grammars have as a matter of biological design (e.g. why no human grammars have mirror image rules); and, most recently, to explain why the universal properties we discover have the particular character they do.
The syntax group engages in all three kinds of research, with special emphasis on the third, typically minimalist question. Empirically, the syntax group has done extensive work on case, agreement, ellipsis, movement and islands, control, anaphoric binding, applicative constructions, morphosyntax, linearization, binding and quantifier scope, among others. Furthermore, while we aim to be at the forefront of syntactic theory (particularly within the minimalist program), we constantly aim, in our classes and in our research, to find insight from earlier generative models developed over the past 60 years.
The Syntax/Semantics Lab meets once or twice a month, bringing together students, faculty, postdocs and visitors to discuss works in progress.
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"Exceptional" Case-Marking and Resultative Constructions
The semantics of case-marking in Korean.
In this thesis, I present evidence that structural Case in Korean is not absolutely semantically inert. It can have a focus flavor in some contexts, for example, stacked Case and Case attached to an adverb/adverbial and a verb. This sort of Case feature may not be an embarrassment for the good design of language. I discuss the Resultative Construction in a derivational approach. We compare the Resultative Construction between English and Korean in pursuit of finding out the underlying cause for differences between the two languages.
A unified analysis of connectivity or reconstruction effects in overt and covert movement.
(Dis)Agree: Movement and Agreement Reconsidered
On the Agree relation in Minimalism.