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Foundational Issues in Linguistic TheoryEssays in Honor of Jean-Roger Vergnaud$
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Robert Freidin, Carlos P. Otero, and Maria Luisa Zubizarreta

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780262062787

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262062787.001.0001

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On Phases

On Phases

(p.132) (p.133) 6 On Phases
Foundational Issues in Linguistic Theory

Noam Chomsky

The MIT Press

This chapter examines the “strong minimalist thesis” (SMT) that language is an optimal solution to interface conditions that must be satisfied by the faculty of language. SMT emerged within the principles-and-parameters framework of generative grammar and involves efficient computation that requires the restriction of computational resources as well as minimization of computations. The chapter suggests that Merge constitutes the sole computational operation in narrow syntax and proposes a No Tampering Condition (NTC) to prevent Merge from making internal changes to the syntactic objects (SOs) to which it applies. It first reviews some recent and ongoing work in the general framework of the so-called Minimalist Program before turning to the theory of phases, the Inclusiveness Condition, and the Phase Impenetrability Condition. It also discusses two forms of Merge, external merge and internal merge, the latter of which is driven by edge features of lexical items.

Keywords:   strong minimalist thesis, Merge, syntax, No Tampering Condition, syntactic objects, Minimalist Program, phases, Inclusiveness Condition, Phase Impenetrability Condition, edge features

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