Here is my Master's thesis. Written at the University of Georgia under the guidance of Vera Lee-Schoenfeld.
My Theoretical Programme
The general theme behind my work in linguistics is replacing poor-functioning traditional syntactic theory with explanations of data driven by extra-linguistic cognitive properties. That means deriving linguistic tendencies, habits and alternations from interactions between prosody, semantics, speaker world-knowledge and "third factor" principles.
My Programme differs from traditional Chomskyan syntax in one crucial area: while the typical Generative assumption assume that the language faculty's main (indeed only) business is constructing the hierarchical structure in language from raw materials (words/morphemes), I view the main perogative of the language faculty as translating and interpreting pre-existing semantic schemas into sound (and vice versa). While much of the data accumulated in the past 60 years has proven interesting and still useful, most of the central theoretical questions of Generative Syntax I consider to be non-meaningful or wild goose chases given this difference.
The language faculty is an optimization scheme that takes the many varying and contradicting constraints of the motor system (sound), the semantic system and other processing constraints and using typical neural architecture, attempts to bridge the formal gaps between them, producing the sometimes vexing constructions of syntax. Ultimately, syntax is the interface. Different languages are merely different configurations of constrain orderings.
All of these papers I consider "unfinished" and are really about piquing interest, so feedback is welcome.
- Syntax without Syntax
- My first qualifying paper: building an account differential syntactic traits driven by varying prosodic constraints.
- Scope Markings and Serial Phrase Parsing
- Here I point out the formal parallel between Harmonic Serial phrase prosodification and the distribution of scope marking. I argue that scope marking is a kind of prosodic repair to rectify an imperfect local maximum achieved in a stocastic and serial derivation. Wh- words want to be prosodically unified with the position they take scope in, but if this is not possible due to independent reasons, scope marking appears as a repair.
- Syntax is just a phonological construct!
- A brief squib which is the inklings of a constraint-based syntax-less approach to word order. Word order falls out from prosodic constraints, without the need for syntax itself.
- Scope without syntax: A Game Theoretic approach
- Here I propose that scope availability is a result of pragmatic implicatures, not any formal syntactic operation. I suggest scope, and other perplexing aspects of language aren't actually part of the "language faculty," but fall the world knowledge and assumptions of speakers. (A preliminary presentation of this) I'm now revising and expanding this into another qualifying paper.
- Some countercyclic problems at the nexus of phonology and syntax
- Here I overview the many syntactic alternations of languages which are manifestly tied into phonological constraints, and note the problems that consensus Generative Grammar has with dealing with them.
- Accomodating phonological structure: Extraposition, the EPP and trace effects
- Similarly to above, I overview phonological control of syntactic structure and here attempt to motivate it. Less complete.
- Presentation at the end of one of Tom Bever's seminars on consciousness and language
- Presentation at the 2015 LCUGA
- I write my qualifying paper.
- Proto Indo-European Reading Group (Now defunct.)