Functional Categories and Parametric Variation

Functional Categories and Parametric Variation

Functional Categories and Parametric Variation

Functional Categories and Parametric Variation

Synopsis

This book explores the idea that functional categories are the 'flesh and blood of grammar'. From within the context of the Principles and Parameters framework, Jamal Ouhalla develops the argument that much of what we understand by the terms grammar and grammatical variation involves functional categories in a crucial way. His main thesis is that most, if not all, of the information which determines the major grammatical processes and relations (movement, agreement, case, etc.) and consequently parametric (or crosslinguistic) variation is associated with functional categories. By identifying parameters with a limited set of lexical properties associated with a well-defined group of functional categories, the book offers a new and highly constrained version of the theory of Lexical Parametrization.

Excerpt

This book grew out of ideas entertained in my 1988 doctoral dissertation at University College London. It is basically an attempt to make sense, in the context of the Principles and Parameters framework, of the traditional idea that functional categories (also known as grammatical categories) are ‘the flesh and blood of grammar’. It is, in other words, an attempt to show that much of what we understand by the term ‘grammar’ revolves round functional categories. The main thesis is that most, if not all, of the information which determines the major grammatical processes, as a result of an interaction with the general principles of UG, is associated with functional categories. This thesis has major implications, some of which are explored in depth, for the phenomenon of language variation and the attempt to account for it in terms of a theory of parametrisation.

In the time it took me to bring the book to its present shape I had the assistance of many individuals. Neil Smith was the source of countless suggestions which helped shape my ideas. As the supervisor of my thesis, he also was the source of much comfort and encouragement for which I am infinitely grateful.

My intellectual debt to Hagit Borer should become obvious to anybody who proceeds to read the chapters of this book. Hagit has also been very helpful and encouraging in many other respects. Among the other people who have had an indelible impact on my thinking as a linguist are: Abderrafi Benhallam, Misi Brody, Wynn Chao, Dick Hudson, Abderrahim Jamari, Jonathan Kaye, Ruth Kempson, Rita Manzini and Deidre Wilson. Abderrafi Benhallam and Abderrahim Jamari were the first to introduce me to linguistics during my undergraduate years in the Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences, Mohamed V University, Rabat. Special thanks to Dick Hudson for reading and commenting on the manuscript.

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