LINGUIST 401: Introduction to Syntax
Dickinson 209, TTh 1.00-2.15
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 March 3 and due on March 10
and the second assigned on May 5 and due on May 12.
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
- : Basic Questions, Implicit Knowledge, Jan.
Reading: Ch. 1 of the textbook
- [2-4]: Phrase Structure Rules, Feb. 1, 3, 8
Reading: Ch. 2 of the textbook
- : Syntactic Categories, Feb. 10
- [6-7]: Grammaticality and Constraining Phrase
Structure Rules, Feb. 15, 17
No Class, Feb. 22, 24
- : Snow Day!, Mar. 1
- [11-13]: Tests for Constituency, Mar. 3, 8, 10
- [14-15]: Binding Theory, Mar. 22, 24
Reading: Ch. 4 of textbook
- [16-18]: X-Bar Theory, Mar. 29, 31, Apr. 5
Reading: Ch. 5 of textbook
- : Aspects of the syntax of Native American Languages
(guest lecture by Adam Werle), Apr. 7
- : Grammaticality and Phrase Structure Rules, assigned
Feb. 3, due in class on Feb. 10
- : Introducing Constituency, assigned
Feb. 10, due in class on Feb. 17
- [3,4]: Enriched Phrase Structure Rules, Project on
Native American Languages , assigned
Feb. 17, due in class on Mar. 3
- : Applying Constituency Tests, assigned
Mar. 3, due in class on Mar. 10
- [MT]: Midterm Exam, assigned
Mar. 10, due in class on Mar. 22
- : Binding Theory, assigned
Mar. 24, due in class on Mar. 31
- : X-Bar Theory, assigned
Apr. 1, due in class on Apr. 12
- : Report on Prof. Werle's lecture, assigned
Apr. 7, due in class on Apr. 12
- : The Structure of Clauses, assigned
Apr. 17, due in class on Apr. 26
- : Verb Movement and do-support, assigned
Apr. 28, due in class on May 5
- [FIN]: Final Exam, assigned May 5,
due in class on May 12