The Syntax of Specifiers and Heads: Collected Essays of Hilda J. Koopman

The Syntax of Specifiers and Heads: Collected Essays of Hilda J. Koopman

The Syntax of Specifiers and Heads: Collected Essays of Hilda J. Koopman

The Syntax of Specifiers and Heads: Collected Essays of Hilda J. Koopman


Specifiers and Heads covers such topics as:* interpretation and distribution of pronouns* ECP effects* specifiers and phrase structure* the role and functioning of head movement* the architecture of grammarEach chapter draws syntactic arguments from phenomena in a broad range of languages and brings these to bear on the structure of syntactic theory and the understanding of crosslinguistic variation. Among the languages studied are the African languages, Welsh and Irish, Norwegian, French, English and Dutch.


The articles collected in this volume span my work from the 1980s till the middle of the 1990s. This introduction contains a general perspective on the theoretical developments over this period, and provides some background on the issues discussed in these chapters, so as to place them in the context of their times.


Development of the theory

I was fortunate to be an apprentice syntactician at the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s. This was a truly exciting time in syntax within the general framework developed by Noam Chomsky. Chomsky's Pisa lectures, published in 1981 as Lectures on Government and Binding, marked the beginning of an extremely productive era. the Government Binding (GB) framework provided powerful analytical tools that allowed substantial broadening of empirical coverage of language internally and crosslinguistically, leading to a much better understanding of the properties of syntactic representations. It lent itself to the discovery of many new patterns in ever expanding areas of inquiry and in languages that had been little studied previously, or that had not been studied at all, leading to explosive growth of the field. the theory itself was sufficiently flexible to extend to new phenomena and to establish correlations and new connections. Kayne's work, collected in his 1984 book, played a particularly important role in this respect.

By the end of the 1980s, it had become clear that syntactic representations were large structures, much larger than one would naively expect based on the “physical” properties of a particular sentence (i.e. based on the presence of overt material in the sentence). With larger structures also came simplification of the basic structural design: syntactic structures are constructed out of basic binary branching structures, with both lexical heads and functional heads projecting. During this period, it became clear as well that there had to be much more movement (both xp and head movement) than previously thought. Movement came to play an ever increasingly important role in capturing the different types of dependencies. It became more general, but also more constrained, operating both in the overt syntax and the covert syntax (LF). This allowed the incorporation of

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