Three Grades of Grammatical Involvement: Syntax from a Minimalist Perspective



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    1. Department of Linguistics, University of Maryland
    • Address for correspondence: Department of Linguistics, 1401 Marie Mount Hall, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.


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  • Thanks to Noam Chomsky and Neil Smith for valuable comments on earlier drafts. I am quite sure that neither agrees with many of the (hopefully) substantive points I make but their comments have helped me make clear (at least to myself) what I have been thinking.


This article presents a Whig history of Minimalism, suggesting that it is the natural next step in the generative program initiated in the mid 1950s. The program so conceived has two prongs: (i) unifying the disparate modules by demonstrating that they are generated by the same basic operations and respect the same general conditions and (ii) assessing which of these basic operations and conditions are parochial to the faculty of language (FL) and which are reflect more general features of cognitive computation. What makes Minimalism ‘minimal’ is the conviction that the bulk of the operations and principles in FL are proprietary to that cognitive module. The article illustrates the aims of the project by discussing some ways of reducing Binding Theory to the theory of Movement.