In Generative Linguistics, syntactic structure is generated by a formal rule system and by applying constraints to its output. Some of these rules and constraints have been hypothesized to be innate, or "unlearned" (most likely a species specific system). That is supported by how human language acquisition (or grammar growth) takes place, in a fast and successful way across the species, and by the observation of striking structural similarities across different human languages. Other aspects of our linguistic knowledge appear "learned", i.e. determined by an interaction between human biology and the particular linguistic experience individuals are exposed to, motivating different but constrained aspects of variation among human languages. This class explores this so-called "Principles and Parameters" approach to the analysis of human syntactic knowledge, focusing on the investigation of how various postulated ("simple") rules and constraints can interact to generate ("complex") structures, characteristic of the potentially infinite number of human language sentences one can produce (such as the one you are now reading, and understanding).
Prerequisites: For undergraduates, LING 315 and permission of the instructor. No prerequisites for linguistics graduate students. Graduate students from other departments may be allowed to enroll with permission of the instructor.