Wednesday, February 24, 2021

On the Form and Function of MERGE (video by Daniel Seely)

Abstract: This talk explores the form and function of the most fundamental operation of the Narrow Syntax, namely Merge. First, we'll give a history of structure building devices, from PS rules through successive stages in the development of Merge--from its introduction in Bare Phrase Structure (Chomsky 1994/95) to its formulation in Problems of Projection (Chomsky 2013, 2015, see also Epstein, Kitahara, Seely 2015) and finally to its most recent characterization, as MERGE—note upper case (Chomsky 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020), Epstein, Kitahara, Seely (2018, 2020). Next, we trace the "Maximize Minimal Merge" program (Epstein, Kitahara, and Seely, among others): The idea is to maximize the effects of Merge, while minimizing its form, positing internal to the Narrow Syntax as little as possible beyond simplest Merge (Merge(X, Y) = {X, Y}). Finally, we consider the current ‘state of the art’, in the form of MERGE (i.e. Chomsky’s most recent characterization). MERGE applies to the Workspace WS (which is formally recognized and incorporated into the theory) and not directly to syntactic objects themselves. We provide a detailed examination of this re-conception of Merge, tracing its form and function, and certain challenges that it may give rise to, and  also revealing important consequences in a number of empirical domains, and its implications for the theory of Narrow Syntax

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Three Facebook Threads on Morphology

Here are three Facebook threads on morphology. They contain many posts by various linguists on the topic of morphology, and in particular the relation between syntax and morphology. I have learned a lot from my colleagues by participating in these dialogues. Since I often have a difficult time locating these posts, I thought I would post them on my blog for ease of reference:

Monday, February 1, 2021

Job Interview Questions

When you apply for a job and are invited for an interview, it can be a source of great anxiety. How do you prepare for such an interview? Here is a list of job interview questions put together by Sam Alxatib and Jason Kandybowicz (CUNY Graduate Center) that you might find helpful.

Syllabus: Structure of Ewe (Spring 2021)

 Here is the syllabus for my Structure of Ewe course. It is meant for grads and advanced undergraduates. 

Syllabus: Structure of Ewe (Spring 2021)

Syllabus: Grammatical Analysis II (Spring 2021)

 Here is my syllabus for the second semester undergraduate syntax course. 

Syllabus: Grammatical Analysis II (Spring 2021)

I post it for the following reasons: (a) People who are interested could do the readings on their own. (b) Other professors might get some ideas from the syllabus that they find useful. (c) Other professors who have taught similar courses can give me feedback that I find useful.

A new feature of this year's syllabus:

Syntax Diary

Part of learning to do syntax is learning to be puzzled by the most obvious facts of language.  For this assignment, you should pay attention to language as it is used around you: on the internet (e-mail, Facebook, websites, etc.), when you are talking with your friends and family, in books and magazines, when you are out buying food, etc. Try to find a sentence or construction that you find interesting or perplexing, and discuss it (less than one page, double spaced). This assignment will ungraded.