Syntactic Theory: A Formal Introduction is unlike any other introductory textbook on the market; it marks a return to 'generative grammar' in its original sense. This book focuses on the development of precisely formulated grammars whose empirical predictions can be directly tested. There is considerable emphasis on prediction and evaluation of grammatical hypotheses, as well as on integrating syntactic hypotheses with matters of semantic analysis. Problem solving is also emphasized; the extensive problems sets draw from a variety of languages other than English.
Special attention is paid to the nature of lexical entries and the organization of the lexicon in terms of type hierarchies and constraint inheritance. The theoretical perspective of the book is presented in the context of current models of language processing, which provide motivation for a constraint-based, lexicalist grammatical architecture, whose value has already been demonstrated in computer language processing applications.
The book begins with the inadequacy of context-free phrase structure grammars, motivating the introduction of feature structures, types and type constraints as ways of expressing linguistic generalizations. Step by step, the student is led to discover a grammar that covers the core areas of English syntax that have been central to syntactic theory in the last quarter century, including: complementation, control, 'raising constructions', passives, the auxiliary system, and the analysis of long distance dependency constructions. Special attention is given to the treatment of dialect variation, especially with respect to African American Vernacular English, which has been of considerable interest with regard to the educational practice of American school systems.
An on-line instructor's manual for Syntactic Theory is now available! Visit the on-line Syntactic Theory Instructor's Manual by Emily Bender, Ivan A. Sag and Tom Wasow, for chapter-by-chapter lecture notes and downloadable transparencies to go with the lectures. These are available in both .ps and .pdf formats. In addition, there are sample solutions to all the problems in the text.
"Syntactic Theory is, without a doubt, the best available introduction to unification-based syntactic theory."
—Gregory Stump, University of Kentucky
"My undergraduate students loved this book."
—Georgia Green, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
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Read an excerpt from this book.