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Biological Foundations and Origin of Syntax$
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Derek Bickerton and Eörs Szathmáry

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780262013567

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262013567.001.0001

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Some Elements of Syntactic Computations

Some Elements of Syntactic Computations

(p.62) (p.63) 4 Some Elements of Syntactic Computations
Biological Foundations and Origin of Syntax

Rizzi Luigi

The MIT Press

This chapter focuses on the nature of syntactic computations and current syntactic models, including “Principles and Parameters” and Minimalist models. It first considers the expression of the open-ended character of natural language syntax before turning to Minimalism, which has introduced an extremely simple structure building rule, Merge. Merge expresses a property called syntactic recursion, which allows the generation of an unlimited number of sentences, and builds hierarchical structures that may be altered by movement. After discussing the typology of movement processes, the chapter demonstrates how Merge and Move interact to determine basic word-order properties of natural languages. It also illustrates certain interplays between morphology and syntax before concluding with a discussion of invariance and variation and how the universality and variability of human language is expressed by parametric models.

Keywords:   syntactic computations, natural language, syntax, Minimalism, Merge, syntactic recursion, movement, morphology, invariance, parametric models

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