Share Course Ware
Humanities > Linguistics & Philosophy > Introduction to Syntax
 Introduction to Syntax  posted by  member7_php   on 2/18/2009  Add Courseware to favorites Add To Favorites  
Further Reading
More Options

Landau, Idan, and Michel DeGraff, 24.951 Introduction to Syntax, Fall 2003. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed 09 Jul, 2010). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Introduction to Syntax

Fall 2003

The Unaccusative Hypothesis.

The Unaccusative Hypothesis claims that unaccusatives are derived by NP-movement from the object position, whereas the subject of unergatives is underived. (Image courtesy of Prof. Idan Landau.)

Course Highlights

This course features a complete set of lecture notes and many downloadable assignments.

Course Description

This course is concerned with the concepts and principles which have been of central significance in the recent development of syntactic theory, with special focus on the "Government and Binding" (GB) / "Principles and Parameters" (P&P) / "Minimalist Program" (MP) approach.

It is the first of a series of two courses (24.951 is taught during the Fall and 24.952 is taught in the Spring). This course deals mostly with phrase structure, argument structure and its syntactic expression, including "A-movement". Though other issues (e.g. wh-movement, antecedent-contained deletion, extraposition) may be mentioned during the semester, the course will not systematically investigate these topics in class until 24.952.

The goal of the course is to understand why certain problems have been treated in certain ways. Thus, on many occasions a variety of approaches will be discussed, and the (recent) historical development of these approaches are emphasized.

*Some translations represent previous versions of courses.



Problem Sets

They will be assigned almost every week, and will range from mechanical exercises to critiques of the literature to empirical problems that the instructors would like to have solved but can't manage by ourselves. Please discuss the problem sets among yourselves, argue about them, work on them together, etc. Do write the problems up on your own, however. Please do not hesitate to ask the instructors, in person or via e-mail, for assistance. Problem sets will be due on the Friday of the week after they are assigned.


Two of the topics have been designated for student presentations. These all involve debates. The presentations (a total of four of them) will be done in small groups whose exact numbers will depend on enrollment. We will discuss this more in class.


A short paper on a topic from the class will be due on the last class day. This paper can be quite short. It can be on any topic that captures your imagination (either positively or negatively!) during the course. It may include your own empirical or theoretical observations (see the journal _Snippets_ for examples of such writing) and/or your own thoughts about papers we have discussed in class. Please let the instructors know what you are planning to write about beforehand. We encourage you to make appointments with us to discuss your topic.


We have cut back the amount of required reading for this course over the last few years; then added more readings; then, cut back again — the "right amount" is still a mystery. You need time to think as well as time to absorb, and we hope that the current reading load this semester will give you that time.

This means, however, that you should attend all classes, no matter what. Nothing you could read will replace what goes on in class.

When you read the assignments, do not expect to understand everything you read. When you get stuck, try skipping over the trouble spot to get what you can out of the readings. At all times, if you need help, ask the instructors or your fellow students.


This is an introductory course taught at an advanced level. We assume that all the students in it have some background in generative syntax. The nature and extent of that background will differ from student to student, of course. Please do not hesitate to ask the instructors for more help if at any time you feel you need some background filled in. Also (and this is important!) do not hesitate to ask questions in class, even if the question is "could you explain that again".


1 Introduction: "The Case for Syntax"  
2 Phrase Structure  
3 Phrase Structure (cont.)  
4 Binding Theory Problem set 1 out
5 A-Movement  
6 A-Movement (cont.) Problem set 2 out
Problem set 1 due
7 Passives  
8 Unaccusativity Problem set 2 due
9 Unaccusativity (cont.)  
10 Unaccusativity (cont.) Problem set 3 out
11 Relational Grammar and Lexical-Functional Grammar  
12 Relational Grammar and Lexical-Functional Grammar (cont.)

Problem set 4: LFG Exercises out
Problem set 3 due

13 Case and Licensing  
14 Case and Licensing (cont.)

Problem set 5 out
Problem set 4: LFG Exercises due

15 Null Subjects (PRO)  
16 Control (PRO)  
17 Control (PRO) (cont.)  
18 Head Movement Problem set 6 out
Problem set 5 due
19 Student Presentations  
20 Student Presentations (cont.) Problem set 6 due
21 Nonconfigurationality  
22 Double Objects  
23 Student Presentations  
24 Psych Verbs Problem set 7 out
25 Psych Verbs (cont.)  
26 Minimalism Problem set 7 due
27 Minimalism (cont.)  
28 Minimalism (cont.)   Tell A Friend