Friday, June 16, 2017

Grammatical Analysis (undergraduate) (Spring 2017)

Here is the syllabus for my undergraduate syntax course. You can see how I tried to incorporate Merge into the course. Once again, I would be happy to discuss the syllabus with anybody.

Grammatical Analysis (LING-UA 13-001)                                                Spring 2017

Instructor:     Professor Chris Collins
Phone:            2-8763
Office:             10 Washington Place, Room 411
Office Hours: Wednesday 3:00pm (or by appointment)

Lecture:          Monday/Wednesday 12:30-1:45pm
Place:              10 Washington Place, Room 104

Recitation:     Thursday, 3:30 - 4:45
Place:              25W4 C-13

Prerequisite:  LING-UA 1 (Language) or LING-UA 2 or LING-UA 28 (Language and Mind) or
permission of instructor

Grammatical Analysis is an introduction to generative syntax, which is the scientific study of the syntax of human languages. We do not assume any prior knowledge of syntax in the course, but do assume a general knowledge of linguistics (e.g., through the course Language or Language and Mind).
            The most recent version of generative grammar is called Minimalist Syntax, which is a version of the Principles and Parameters theory. We will informally use Minimalist Syntax as a pedagogical tool during the course.   
            The first half of the course (up to the Mid-Term) will be about the hierarchical structure of phrases and sentences, and the second half will be about movement. More specifically, students will learn about syntactic categories (and how to justify them), phrase structure (and how to justify it), Merge (the operation forming phrase structure), the lexicon, Binding Theory, head movement, the passive and wh-movement.
The emphasis throughout will be on drawing trees and linguistic argumentation.

There is no required textbook for the course. I will post the course notes before each lecture. Occasionally, I will post supplementary readings. I have also indicated suggested readings from the following textbook for people who need extra help.

Sportiche, Dominique, Hilda Koopman and Edward Stabler. 2014. An Introduction to Syntactic Analysis and Theory. Wiley Blackwell.

This book is available online through NYU. It is also available on

There will be an assignment every two weeks for a total of 6 assignments.  Each assignment will be handed out on Wednesday and will be due the following Wednesday at the beginning of class. Assignments should be submitted in .pdf format (not Word) via NYU Classes.
You may work together on the assignments, but all written work must be your own. Assignments copied verbatim will be treated as plagiarism (see Academic Integrity URL below). If you do collaborate with other members of the class, write the names of your collaborators at the top of the assignment.
All assignments must be typed on a word processor (please use a 12 point font). The trees should be done with a word processor or a tree drawing program (see below). Late assignments will not be accepted unless an extension was granted 48 hours ahead of time.
In addition to the graded assignments, I will often give informal ungraded problem solving assignments. We will discuss the answers to these in class and in section.

            Assignments                           60%
            Mid-Term                                20%
            Final Exam                              20%

            Attending the lectures is obligatory. You may miss class up to 2 times without an excuse. Valid excuses include medical emergencies, religious observances, sporting events for athletes, etc.
            Attending the section is highly encouraged, but not required. The purpose of the section is for students to go over problems, and learn syntactic argumentation.

Academic Integrity
Please read the information on the following URL:
The policies on this site will be strictly followed.

Drawing Trees
You will draw many trees this semester. The easiest option is to use the line drawing tools on your word processor. On Microsoft Word these can be found under Insert/Shapes. Other options are the following. During first section meeting, the TA will go through the various tree drawing options.
a.     Syntax Tree Drawing Fonts: Arboreal (Mac) and ArborWin (PC).
(available for purchase at:
c.     Download RSyntaxTree:

The schedule may be revised. The dates may change. Topics may be dropped and/or added depending on our progress during the semester.

Week 1:          Jan. 23, 25
Monday:        Syntactic Data
Wednesday:   Universal Grammar and I-Language

Suggested:     SKS Chapter 1 “Introduction”

To Do:            Figure out how to draw a tree using one of the methods outlined in the syllabus. The TA will help you with this in section.

Week 2:          Jan. 30, Feb. 1
            Monday:        Syntactic Categories
            Wednesday:   Merge

            Suggested:     SKS Chapter 2 “Morphology: Starting with Words”
                                    (sections 2.1 and 2.2)

            Hmwk 1:        Assigned Feb. 1, due Feb. 8

Week 3:          Feb. 6, 8                     
            Monday:        Constituent Structure Tests
            Wednesday:   Constituent Structure Tests (cont.)

            Suggested:     SKS Chapter 3 “Syntactic Analysis Introduced”
(sections 3.4-3.7 on constituent structure tests)
Week 4:          Feb. 13, 15
Monday:        Functional Projections: TP
            Wednesday:   Functional Projections: CP

            Suggested:     SKS Chapter 4 “Clauses”
Hmwk 2:        Assigned Feb. 15, due Feb. 22

Week 5:          Feb. 20, 22
            Monday:        President’s Day, No Classes
Wednesday:   Functional Projections: DP

            Suggested:     SKS Section 5.2 “Determiner Phrases”

Week 6:          Feb. 27, Mar. 1
Monday:        Theta-Roles, Format of Lexical Entries
Wednesday:   Complements versus Adjuncts

            Suggested:     SKS Section 6.8 “Lexical Entries”
                                    SKS Section 5.1 “Verb Phrases”

            Hmwk 3:        Assigned Mar. 1, due Mar. 8

Week 7:          Mar. 6, 8
            Monday:        Binding Theory
            Wednesday:   Binding Theory

Suggested:     SKS Chapter 7 “Binding Theory”      
(sections 7.1-7.4, our treatment will be a simplification of SKS)

Week 8:          Mar. 13, 15     SPRING RECESS

Week 9:          Mar. 20, 22
            Monday:        Review
Wednesday:   MID-TERM

Week 10:        Mar. 27, 29
Monday:        Head Movement: English Auxiliary Verbs
            Wednesday:   Head Movement: V to T

            Suggested:     Lasnik, Howard. 1995. The Forms of Sentences. An Invitation to
Cognitive Science: Language, Vol. 1. Cambridge: MIT Press, pp. 283-310.

                                    SKS Section 8.3 “Head Movement”

            Hmwk 4:        Assigned Mar. 29, due Apr. 5

Week 11:        Apr. 3,5
Monday:        Head Movement: T to C
            Wednesday:   Structure Dependence

            Suggested:     Gondry, Michael. 2013. “Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?”. IFC Films.

Week 12:        Apr. 10, 12                            
Monday:        Wh-Movement and Islands
            Wednesday:   Wh-Movement and Islands

            Suggested:     SKS Chapter 8 “Apparent Violations of Locality of Section”
                                    (section 8.5.1 “Wh-Questions”)

                                    SKS Chapter 10 “Wh-Questions: Wh-Movement and Locality”
                                    (sections 10.1 – 10.4)

Hmwk 5:        Assigned Apr. 12, due Apr. 19

Week 13:        Apr. 17, 19
Monday:        DP-Movement: Passive and Agree/Case
Wednesday:   DP-Movement: VP-Internal Subject

Week 14:        Apr. 24, 26                            
Monday:        DP-Movement: Raising and Control
Wednesday:   DP-Movement: Raising and Control

Suggested:     SKS Section 8.5.2 “Raising to Subject”
SKS Chapter 9 “Infinitival Complements: Raising and Control”

Hmwk 6:        Assigned Apr. 26, due May 3

Week 15:        May 1,3         
Monday:        Catch-Up
Wednesday:   Catch-Up

Week 16:        May 8 (Last Day of Classes)
            Monday:        Review

            Final:              Wednesday, May 10
                                    12:00 to 1:50

                                    10WP, Room 103

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