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 Post subject: Good syntax books
PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:59 pm 
Boardlord
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If you don't follow my blog: my next book is on syntax, a topic dear to my heart.

Also, it turns out, a topic I'm way out of date on. So: what are some good, post-1995 books on syntax? Or even mediocre books, if you used them in class?

Is everyone Chomskyan these days? Or post-Chomskyan, or what?


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 Post subject: Re: Good syntax books
PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 12:08 am 
Smeric
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Syntax: A Generative Introduction by Andrew Carnie. I get the impression people are basically post-Chomskyan these days but have nevertheless not diverged all that much from Generative Grammar. I'm sure a computational linguist will vehemently disagree with me, but then I vehemently disagree with computational linguists in general, too, so


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 Post subject: Re: Good syntax books
PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:58 am 
Avisaru
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The only one I've used is Describing Morphosyntax: A Guide for Field Linguists by Thomas E. Payne.

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 Post subject: Re: Good syntax books
PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 4:02 pm 
Smeric
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Nothing to contribute, but I will insta-buy this book. Every language I make I go to use it and realize that my grasp of syntax is enormously deficient compared to phonology or morphology.

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 Post subject: Re: Good syntax books
PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:26 pm 
Smeric
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"Every language I make I go to use it"? Does that mean something like "I go to use it every time I make a conlang so that it can help me with making that conlang"?


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 Post subject: Re: Good syntax books
PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 12:32 am 
Boardlord
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Ordered the Carnie... I've already read Payne, and it's not what I am after anyway, which is generative syntax. Thanks for the recs!

Zaarin, I promise my book will have plenty of great stuff you can use. :) Plus web toys to play with!


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 Post subject: Re: Good syntax books
PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 8:26 pm 
Smeric
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Vijay wrote:
"Every language I make I go to use it"? Does that mean something like "I go to use it every time I make a conlang so that it can help me with making that conlang"?

Nope, that was me posting while distracted. Should have read "Every time I go to use a language I make I realize..." :oops:

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 Post subject: Re: Good syntax books
PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:13 pm 
Smeric
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zompist wrote:
Ordered the Carnie... I've already read Payne, and it's not what I am after anyway, which is generative syntax. Thanks for the recs!

No probs, enjoy the Carnie! It's a fun book. It mostly focuses on Chomskyanish stuff but does get into Minimalism, LFG, and HPSG, too. When I was in grad school (2009-2013), people seemed to like LFG, but I'm not sure how many people actually use it.


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 Post subject: Re: Good syntax books
PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 3:58 am 
Lebom
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As you know, minimalism is the dominant paradigm. Good introductions include Adger's Core Syntax: A Minimalist Approach and Radford's Minimalist Syntax.

What these books might not mention is the more recent work on syntactic interfaces with morphology and semantics. Most minimalists adopt distributed morphology as their "theory of morphology" (which of course is actually a theory of syntax). The work in the syntax-semantics interface is more varied, and doesn't generally rely on a single theory of semantics, beyond the formal conventions of lambda calculus (for which see Heim and Kratzer's Semantics in Generative Grammar).

Then there are a slew of other theories still in use. HPSG and CCG are pretty popular with semanticists and computational linguists. Good books for these are Sag, Wasow and Bender's Syntactic Theory: A Formal Introduction and Steedman's The Syntactic Process. Construction grammar is worth considering too, although I'm not sure of an up-to-date treatment of that: the classic reference is Goldberg's 1995 Constructions: a construction grammar approach to argument structure. And there's LFG too, which I must admit I'm not sure how many people are still working in.

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 Post subject: Re: Good syntax books
PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 1:18 pm 
Avisaru
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You probably already have thought of this, zompist, but a thing that could be useful in the beginning of the book is basically "This is what syntax is" and "This is what syntax is not". Just as a quick primer on explaining what the book will be covering.

Or maybe I'm just the one who doesn't really have a good grasp on the difference between syntax, grammar, and morphology.


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 Post subject: Re: Good syntax books
PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 4:08 pm 
Smeric
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I feel like the definitions of the different fields are already nicely explained in the LCK: morphology is the formation words; syntax is the formation of sentences. All study of the workings of a language is grammar.

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 Post subject: Re: Good syntax books
PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 4:18 pm 
Sanno
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mèþru wrote:
morphology is the formation words; syntax is the formation of sentences.

Neat definition, but it presupposes clear universally-accepted definitions of "word" and "sentence" which I don't know exist. At least when I began studying linguistics, it was well known that "word" was one of those terms which everyone made use of but no one could satisfactorily define in a way that worked for all languages. It's a decent first approximation, but it seems worth going into a little more detail in a work aimed at covering only one of these two areas.


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 Post subject: Re: Good syntax books
PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 5:05 pm 
Smeric
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And the boundaries between morphology and syntax are fuzzy and what is morphology or syntax varies from language to language, so I feel like the definition still fits.

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 Post subject: Re: Good syntax books
PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:11 pm 
Smeric
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No idea what the evidence is for minimalism being "the dominant paradigm."


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 Post subject: Re: Good syntax books
PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 5:18 pm 
Boardlord
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Rory: thanks for the recs. More to add to the book pile!


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 Post subject: Re: Good syntax books
PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 1:02 am 
Boardlord
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The Carnie arrived today, and I'm pleased to report that, reading the first three chapters, I learned almost nothing!

That is, the introductory stuff is almost identical to what I know from 25 years ago. So that's nice. The few differences are mostly notational— e.g. apparently we now write D, T for what I learned as Det, Aux.


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 Post subject: Re: Good syntax books
PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 1:25 am 
Smeric
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Nah, even those notational differences are more like personal preferences. I've seen some people using D and others using Det. (It might even be a difference having to do with the editions. Which edition did you buy?). Aux may be kind of outdated, though (if my memory is correct without looking at the book at all, I think he talks more about why Ts are not necessarily auxiliaries in Chapter 6 or something).


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 Post subject: Re: Good syntax books
PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 5:20 pm 
Lebom
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Vijay wrote:
No idea what the evidence is for minimalism being "the dominant paradigm."

The majority of syntax work published in major linguistics journals is minimalist; the great majority of syntax training in American universities is minimalist. This doesn't mean that there aren't exceptions, or that minimalism is necessarily better, but that's the reality of the theoretical landscape.

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 Post subject: Re: Good syntax books
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:08 pm 
Lebom
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My syntax students, studying minimalism, seem to prefer Carnie, various Cambridge University Press books by Andrew Radford, and Understanding Minimalism by Hornstein et al.

I think Bresnan's Lexical-Functional Syntax might be good for the LFG approach, and I'd second looking at Goldberg on Construction Grammar.

Jurafsky and Martin's Speech and Language Processing contains a lot of good stuff on syntax and other things from a computational perspective.

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 Post subject: Re: Good syntax books
PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 2:36 am 
Boardlord
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I finished reading Carnie's book-- 3rd ed., by the way. My overall impression: I'm happy that a lot of old-style generative grammar is still there, pre-Minimalism. A lot of X' theory is either already in McCawley, or seems like a notational variant of earlier theories.

Which isn't to say I like everything. I think the parameters idea is bonkers. And the strict idea of X' theory-- that each XP has the same overall structure-- strikes me as seeking for elegance rather than evidence. I think GG's besetting sin has always been falling in love with its own diagrams. McCawley does this too, but at least it comes off as more playful than dogmatic.

Carnie only barely gets into Minimalism in this book, so I'll reserve judgment until I can read more on it.

Curlyjimsam, thanks for the recs!


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 Post subject: Re: Good syntax books
PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 3:31 pm 
Boardlord
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Two new books arrived this week! Adger on Minimalism, and Goldberg on Construction Grammar.

Construction Grammar is right up my alley. It relies heavily on Lakoff, who's one of my favorite linguists anyway. It's also compatible with Tomasello's work on child language acquisition (summarized in ALC).

As for Minimalism, I think it's kind of hilarious that the single stupidest bit of X' theory— the huge vertical growth of syntactic trees, crammed with contentless nodes-- has been quietly dropped. Poor students of that era, forced to draw extra nodes because nothing but the elegance of X' demanded them.


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 Post subject: Re: Good syntax books
PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 3:41 pm 
Smeric
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zompist wrote:
Poor students of that era, forced to draw extra nodes because nothing but the elegance of X' demanded them.

Pretty sure that era continues today in some linguistics departments, at least. I remember having to draw big X' diagrams for syntax classes as both an undergrad and a grad student. I think you get used to it eventually. :P


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 Post subject: Re: Good syntax books
PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 4:51 pm 
Avisaru
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zompist wrote:
As for Minimalism, I think it's kind of hilarious that the single stupidest bit of X' theory— the huge vertical growth of syntactic trees, crammed with contentless nodes-- has been quietly dropped. Poor students of that era, forced to draw extra nodes because nothing but the elegance of X' demanded them.


First-year linguists at Cambridge still have to do this, because for some reason the syntax teaching follows Chomsky's alterations to his theory almost in real time; we don't do minimalism until the part II, and only is you choose Li9, Syntax. And the bit that most stings is the fact that we already know we're being taught stuff that's outdated as shit and yet we're still supposed to swallow it - and then unlearn it when we come to it the next year.

The next effect of this and other retarded bullshits about the Cambridge course has somehow inspired me to want to go into this faculty when I graduate more, turn the place upside down, or at the very least be one of those professors who acts as a light in the darkness.

----

Anyways, the syntax book I'd probably recommend would be Paul Kroeger's Analysing Syntax, one of the few books I've found that's 1. not generativist (or at least, not hard-on generativist) and 2. mainly takes examples from languages other than English.

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 Post subject: Re: Good syntax books
PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 4:52 pm 
Avisaru
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Frislander wrote:
zompist wrote:
As for Minimalism, I think it's kind of hilarious that the single stupidest bit of X' theory— the huge vertical growth of syntactic trees, crammed with contentless nodes-- has been quietly dropped. Poor students of that era, forced to draw extra nodes because nothing but the elegance of X' demanded them.


First-year linguists at Cambridge still have to do this, because for some reason the syntax teaching follows Chomsky's alterations to his theory almost in real time; we don't do minimalism until the part II, and only is you choose Li9, Syntax. And the bit that most stings is the fact that we already know we're being taught stuff that's outdated as shit and yet we're still supposed to swallow it - and then unlearn it when we come to it the next year.

The next effect of this and other retarded bullshits about the Cambridge course has somehow inspired me to want to go into this faculty when I graduate more, turn the place upside down, or at the very least be one of those professors who acts as a light in the darkness.

----

Anyways, the syntax book I'd probably recommend would be Paul Kroeger's Analysing Syntax, one of the few books I've found that mainly takes examples from languages other than English.

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 Post subject: Re: Good syntax books
PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2018 10:49 am 
Smeric
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I just hope you'll attempt to include as much content as you can on how syntactic theories can be applied to languages other than English, instead of writing another introduction to the study of English syntax. This is easily one of the top reasons why conlangers don't seem to be interested in modern syntax much: book-length reference grammars almost exclusively use "atheoretical" approaches, and not everybody is up to reading journal articles. The result is that, with the exception of a few, hardly anybody bothers.

If you really like books I'd suggest you could begin looking at the Cambridge Syntax Guides series, reading the bits where languages are different from English at least. Karen Zagona's book in that series on Spanish does address negative concord and the free constituent order of the subject/object/verb addressed among other things (although some interesting things like sentence types beginning with the subordinator que are not addressed). Similarly, Joseph Aoun's book on Arabic contains more than one analysis of how VSO order can be handled and addresses the curious subject-verb agreement of Standard Arabic (even if it doesn't address the problem of the particle ’inna among other things).

But really, journal articles is where it's at. No book has been published on the syntax of Classical Chinese from a more theoretical approach, but Edith Aldridge's articles on that are right here.

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