Syllabus, Contemporary Grammatical Theories, Spring 2007

Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures

Hsuan Chuang University


Instructor:          T.-H. Jonah Lin

Telephone:         (03) 571-5131, ext. 34402



Teaching material

Contemporary Grammatical Theory, Jonah Lin


Useful readings

(1)          Transformational syntax: a student's guide to Chomsky's extended standard theory. A Radford, Cambridge University Press, 1981.

(2)          Introduction to Government and Binding Theory. L. Haegeman, Oxford, 1991.



(1)          Class participation: 20%

(2)          A research paper: 80%


Topics to be covered in this semester

1. Facts, assumptions, and theories

What is a theory? What is a linguistic theory?

Knowledge of language and the language faculty

Some facts concerning English and Mandarin Chinese

Universal grammar and the architecture of grammar

2. Phrase structure

English phrase structure

Words and categories

Subcategorization and selection

Chinese phrase structure

Problems of tense and inflection

Projection and X' structure

The problem of subject and VP-Internal Subject Hypothesis

Light verb v and predicates

The theory of bare phrase structure and structure building in the minimalist program

3. Transformation

Transformation in human language: movement, deletion, and beyond

Transformational rules and the expressive power of rules

Structure preservation

Conditions on transformations: A-over-A, Island Constraints, and Subjacency

Types of movement: A-movement, A'-movement, and head movement

Transformation and its conditions in Mandarin Chinese

4. Case and theta-role

The “classical” theory of case: Case Filter

Case theory in the minimalist program

The “classical” theory of theta-role: the Projection Principle

Theta-roles and predication

What drives movement and what motivates structure building?

4. Empty categories and other bound elements


Empty pronominal

Control vs. raising

The pro-drop parameter

Binding theory and Binding Conditions

Binding-theoretic properties of empty categories

Empty operators and predication

A perspective from Chinese grammar

5. More on transformation

Government and the Empty Category Principle


Feature checking

Minimal Link Condition, Last Resort, and economy

6. Minimalism

The overall design of grammar

Structure building and linear order

Feature checking, agreement, and phase