Syntax 2


The primary focus of Syntax 2 is the syntax of long distance dependencies: empirical properties cross-linguistically, theoretical analysis, and implications for the theory of grammar. Topics to be covered include the syntax of questions and relative clauses; island constraints; crossover; parasitic gaps; superiority; resumptive pronouns; wh-in-situ and multiple wh-movement; Logical Form and quantifier raising. This course will combine the elements of an introductory class and a research seminar. As such, it will balance lecture and discussion, exercises and readings, and research and presentation..

The relation between syntax and semantics will be a common theme throughout the quarter; sometimes explicit, always implicit. For students taking Semantics 1, chapters 5-8 of Heim and Kratzer 1998 specifically address the semantic analysis of some of the constructions we will be looking at in this course, so I recommend you pay close attention to these as we go through the quarter.


In addition to doing all the required readings, students are required to do the following written work:

  • Assignments: Two or three homeworks will be assigned over the course of the quarter, mainly in the first half. These will focus on developing analytical skills and exploring particular empirical phenomena. Assignments will be handed out on Thursdays and due at the beginning of class the following Tuesday.

  • Language journals: Students will do original fieldwork on a language of their choice and report on the fieldwork in a `language journal'. The only restriction on the language selected is that it be one that the student does not speak with native fluency. Guidelines for the language journal can be downloaded here. The topics of each journal entry and the deadlines for submission are:

    1. February 7: The syntax of restrictive relative clauses
    2. March 7: The syntax of comparative clauses

    Here is an overview of typological variation in comparatives to help get you started figuring out what to look for in your langauge. The crucial section is part 2, though the other parts may also be useful.

  • Squib: An original `squib' on any topic in syntax or the syntax-semantics interface will be due at the end of the quarter. A squib is a short (10-15 double-spaced pages) paper that introduces a focused problem or question, explains its significance (why it is an interesting problem/question), and develops an analysis of it.


Evaluations will be based on performance on the written work and participation in class.

The Plan

The plan for the course is listed below, though everything after Week 4 is subject to change based on the progress and interests of the class. As of January 2, a few readings are still not available, but they will be linked to this website well in advance of the weeks in which they will be discussed (except for the chapters from Adger 2003, which all of you should have).