LINGUIST 401: Introduction to Syntax
SOM 129, TTh 9.30-10.45
What syntactic properties are shared by all natural languages?
What syntactic properties distinguish them? What do we know when we know a language?
What are syntactic properties? How do we construct a theory of syntax?
This course aims to equip students with the ability to address these questions
in a precise and informed way. The topics include those that are central to a proper
understanding of syntax: phrase structure, movement, grammatical relations, case,
complementation, anaphora, and long-distance movement.
- Implicit knowledge, grammaticality, and related issues
- Syntactic trees
- X-bar theory
- Case and NP-Movement
- Raising and Control
- Exceptional Case Marking
- Binding Theory
- Head Movement
Linguist 201 (Introduction to Linguistics) or the consent of the instructor
- participation in class, in e-mail, or during my office hours (10%)
- regular homework assignments (roughly one a week) (60%)
- two take-home exams, the first assigned on October 27 and due on November 1
and the second assigned on December 6 and due on December 13.
- I expect you to participate in class and pay attention. If
I notice that you are not paying attention, I will ask you to
leave the lecture and not grade your assignment for the week.
You are welcome to work together on the regular
assignments, but joint assignments are not allowed. Please
list the names of everyone you worked with at the top of
- You cannot work together on the exams.
- The assignments and exams will address only material
that we covered in class (and appropriate extensions of it).
So active and engaged participation in the class meetings
is essential to your success on them.
- I will drop your lowest regular-assignment grade
(even if it is a 0), on the condition that you participate
in one of the experiments being run by UMass Linguistics
researchers this semester. These experiments typically involve
speaking, writing, or listening.
- Late assignments will only be accepted in the case of medical
or other emergencies.
Readings, Required and Supplementary Texts
I will make the lecture slides available online on the website and occasionally distribute
short, compulsory reading assignments. In addition to these, there is a
Syntax: A Generative Introduction, Andrew Carnie,
Blackwell Publishing, 2002. (ISBN 0-631-22544-7)
(ordered at Amherst Books, 8 Main St. Amherst).
The following are good supplementary resources, things you might study as a way of
deepening or broadening your understanding of what syntactic theory is all about:
1. Huddleston, Rodney and Geoffrey K. Pullum. 2002. The Cambridge Grammar of the
English Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [Note: This is available in the
reference section of DuBois Library, call number PE1106 .H74 2002.]
2. McCawley, James D. 1998. The Syntactic Phenomena of English, 2nd ed. Chicago:
Chicago University Press.
3. Radford, Andrew, 1988. Transformational Grammar: An Introduction, Cambridge: Cambridge
4. Adger, David, 2003, Core Syntax: A Minimalist Approach, Oxford: Oxford University
- [1-2]: Basic Questions, Implicit Knowledge, Sep. 8, 13
Reading: Ch. 1 of the textbook
- [3-4]: The Atoms: Words and Syntactic Categories, Sep. 15, 20
Reading: Ch. 2 of the textbook
- [5-7]: Phrase Structure Rules, Trees, and Automata, Sep. 22, 27, 29
Reading: Ch. 2 of the textbook
- [8-10]: Relations on Trees, Oct. 4, 6, and 11
Reading: Ch. 3 of the textbook
- [11-13]: Binding Theory, Oct. 13, 18, and 20
Reading: Ch. 4 of the textbook
- [Oct. 27]: Midterm is handed out
- [14-16]: X-Bar Theory: NPs and VPs, Oct. 25, 27, and Nov. 1
Reading: Ch. 5 of the textbook
- [17-21]: Clause Structure: TPs and CPs, Nov. 1, 8, 10, 15, 17
Reading: Ch. 6 of the textbook
- [22-]: Wh-Movement
Reading: Ch. 11 of the textbook
- : Pronominal Coreference, assigned
September 15, due in class on September 22
- : Parts of Speech, assigned
Sep. 22, due in class on Sep. 29
- : Phrase Structure Rules and Automata, assigned
Sep. 29, due in class on Oct. 6
- : Ambiguity and Relations on Trees,
Oct. 6, due in class on Oct. 13
- : Binding Theory, assigned
Oct. 13, due in class on Oct. 20
- : Binding Theory 2, assigned
- [MT]: Midterm Exam, assigned
Oct. 27, due in class on Nov. 1,
Notes on the Midterm
- : X-Bar Theory for NPs, assigned
Nov. 3, due in class on Nov. 10
- : X-Bar Theory for VPs and CPs, assigned
Nov. 10, due in class on Nov. 17
- : TPs and do-support, assigned
Nov. 17, due in class on Nov. 22
- : Wh-Movement, assigned
Dec. 1, due in class on Dec. 8
- [FIN]: Final Exam, assigned
Dec. 6, due on Dec. 14