Relevance of Linguistic Typology to Formal Theory: Minimalist Inquiry and Word Order



Jae Jung Song


Work Unit:

University of Otago


Vol.4 No.1 (Serial No.4) 2016






This article argues that the theoretical desiderata of Minimalist Program (MP) will actually necessitate, or even force, a high level of sensitivity to cross-linguistic structural variation, at least higher than has been the case in Principles and Parameters Theory. Moreover, this heightened sensitivity to cross-linguistic variation is likely to call into question two fundamental assumptions in Generative Grammar (GG), namely the distinction between competence and performance as well as the objection to the inclusion of performance in linguistic theory. By drawing on word order and, to a lesser extent, case marking (also related ultimately to linearization) for purposes of illustration, the article will explain how GG, as reconfigured in MP, needs Linguistic Typology more than ever, as MP theorists are becoming increasingly aware of the relevance of cross-linguistic variation to their minimalist inquiry. Furthermore, functional motivations or explanations (e.g. performance), typically utilized in LT, are likely to resonate well with the minimalist focus on so-called interface conditions.

Key Words:

competence, interface conditions, linguistic typology, minimalist program, performance, word order




Boeckx, C. 2006. Linguistic Minimalism: Origins, Concepts, Methods, and Aims [M]. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

_____. 2008. Bare Syntax [M]. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Chomsky, N. 1965. Aspects of the Theory of Syntax [M]. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

_____. 1993. A Minimalist Program for Linguistic Theory [A]. In K. Hale and S. J. Keyser, eds., The View from Building 20: Essays in Linguistics in Honor of Sylvain Bromberger [C]. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1-52.

_____. 1995a. Bare Phrase Structure [A]. In G. Webelhuth, ed., Government and Binding and the Minimalist Program [C]. Oxford: Blackwell, 385-439.

_____. 1995b. The Minimalist Program [M]. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

_____. 2000. Minimalist Inquiries: The Framework [A]. In R. Martin, D. Michaels and J. Uriagereka, eds., Step by Step [C]. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 89-155.

_____. 2001. Derivations by Phase [A]. In M. Kenstowicz, ed., Ken Hale: A Life in Language [C]. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1-52.

_____. 2004. Beyond Explanatory Adequacy [A]. In A. Belletti, ed., Structure and Beyond: The Cartography of Syntactic Structures [C], vol. 3. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 104-131.

_____. 2005. Three Factors in Language Design [J]. Linguistic Inquiry, 36:1-22.

Cinque, G. 1996. The ‘Antisymmetric’ Programme: Theoretical and Typological Implications [J]. Journal of Linguistics, 32:447-464.

_____. 2000. On Greenberg’s Universal 20 and the Semantic DP [J]. University of Venice Working Papers in Linguistics, 10(2):45-61.

_____. 2005. Deriving Greenberg’s Universal 20 and Its Exceptions [J]. Linguistic Inquiry, 36:315-332.

_____. 2010. Deriving Word Order Types: A Change of Perspective [Z]. MS. University of Venice.

Comrie, B. 1978. Ergativity [A]. In W. P. Lehmann, ed., Syntactic Typology: Studies in the Phenomenology of Language [C]. Austin: University of Texas Press, 329-394.

_____. 1989. Language Universals and Linguistic Typology [M], 2nd edn. Oxford: Blackwell.

Dixon, R. M. W. 1979. Ergativity [J]. Language, 55:59-138.

_____. 1994. Ergativity [M]. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dryer, M. S. 1992. The Greenbergian Word Order Correlations [J]. Language, 68:81-138.

_____. 2005. Order of Subject, Object and Verb [A]. In M. Haspelmath, M. S. Dryer, D. Gil and B. Comrie, eds., The World Atlas of Language Structures [C]. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 330-333.

Epstein, S. D., E. M. Groat, R. Kawashima and H. Kitahara. 1998. A Derivational Approach to Syntactic Relations [M]. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Greenberg, J. H. 1963. Some Universals of Grammar with Particular Reference to the Order of Meaningful Elements [A]. In J. H. Greenberg, ed., Universals of Language [C]. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 58-90.

Hawkins, J. A. 1983. Word Order Universals [M]. New York: Academic Press.

Hornstein, N. 2009. A Theory of Syntax: Minimal Operations and Universal Grammar [M]. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hornstein, N., J. Nunes and K. K. Grohmann 2005. Understanding Minimalism [M]. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,

Huang, C.-T. J. 1982. Logical Relations in Chinese and the Theory of Grammar [D], PhD dissertation. Cambridge, MA: MIT.

Kayne, R. S. 1994. The Antisymmetry of Syntax [M]. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

_____. 2000. Parameters and Universals [M]. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Marantz, A. 1995. The Minimalist Program [A]. In G. Webelhuth, ed., Government and Binding Theory and the Minimalist Program [C]. Oxford. Blackwell, 349-382.

Næss, A. 2007. Prototypical Transitivity [M]. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Polinksy, M. 2011. Linguistic Typology and Formal Grammar [A]. In J. J. Song, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Typology, Oxford. Oxford University Press, 650-665.

Richards, N. 2010. Uttering Trees [M]. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Seddy, S and V. Samek-Lodovici 2011. On the Ungrammaticality of Remnant Movement in the Derivation of Greenberg’s Universal 20 [J]. Linguistic Inquiry, 42:445-469.

Siewierska, A. 1988. Word Order Rules [M]. London: Croom Helm.

_____. 2006. Linguistic Typology: Where Functionalism and Formalism Almost Meet [A]. In A. Duszak and U. Okulska, eds., Bridges and Barriers in Metalinguistic Discourse [C]. Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main, 57-76.

Song, J. J. 2012. Word Order [M]. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Tomlin, R. 1986. Basic Word Order: Functional Principles [M]. London: Croom Helm.

Uriagereka, J. 1999. Multiple Spell-Out [A]. In S. D. Epstein and N. Hornstein, eds., Working Minimalism [C]. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 251-280.

Zwart, J.-W. 2009. Relevance of Typology to Minimalist Inquiry [J]. Lingua, 119:1589-1606.

  • Macrolinguistics(ISSN 1934-5755,e-ISSN 2473-6376)is an international academic journal w...
  • 1. Authors should submit the original work. This journal uses iThentic...
  • 1. Peer review of this journal consists of three procedures in sequence: initial review ...
  • The Learned Press, 9 East 37th Street, Suite: WL, New York, NY 10016, U.S.APhone: 646-831-8213Fa...